Rabbi Chanan Feld, East Bay mohel and teacher, dies at 53

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Rabbi Chanan Feld, the Berkeley-based Orthodox rabbi and longtime mohel, died Oct. 28 after a yearlong battle with oral cancer. He was 53.

Along with another couple, Feld and his wife, Jody, co-founded the Berkeley shul Beit Midrash Ohr HaChaim ten years ago. It became a popular East Bay center of Torah study.

 

Rabbi Chanan Feld

“He was a beloved teacher,” said Noach Bittelman, a close friend and co-founder of the shul. “[Feld] taught morning classes for years devotedly to a group of students. He taught them hands-on Torah, not top down.”

 

As a mohel he officiated at the brit milahs of many thousands of boys over a 20-year career, not only in the Bay Area but as far away as Washington state.

A native of Chicago, Feld was a champion college soccer player in his youth. Upon moving to the Bay Area he deepened his Jewish observance, affiliating with the Lubavitcher movement of Chassidism and becoming a mohel.

Feld and his wife Jody had three children together — Dovid, Daniel and Rachel.

Until only days ago, Feld continued to teach and promote Torah study via email, writing drashes and poetry that went out to a large email list.

“He exuded love,” Bittelman said, “and he touched the lives of thousands.”