Pulpit rabbi takes on a second job: college professor

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Rabbi Lee Bycel, the spiritual leader at Congregation Beth Shalom in Napa for the past 15 months, will be splitting his time between the synagogue and the classroom come August, when he will begin a position as an adjunct college professor.

Under the auspices of the University of San Francisco’s Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, Bycel will teach two courses in the theology and religious studies department: “Holocaust and Genocide” and “Contemporary Political Prophets: Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel and Aung San Suu Kyi.”

Rabbi Lee Bycel

The former class filled to capacity shortly after being announced, Bycel said.

As for how he’ll manage the juggling act between his Reform congregation and USF, the rabbi said the two kinds of work actually go hand in hand.

“I think they’re great balances for each other,” he said. “Each type of work kind of enhances what I can give at both places, so I’m thrilled about the combination of the two.”

Bycel previously served as dean of Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles for 15 years, where he helped develop the college’s undergraduate Jewish studies program. He has also been a visiting professor at one university and a scholar-in-residence at many congregations over the past 30 years.

“I’m very excited about teaching at USF, which is a great Jesuit school with a history of social justice studies,” he said. “I’m excited to be actively involved in learning and studying, as well as teaching.” — emma silvers

Emma Silvers

Emma Silvers is a former J. staff writer.