Rabbi Alex Kress

Headshot of Rabbi Alex Kress

Rabbi Alex Kress (he/his) is the rabbi of Beth Shir Shalom in Santa Monica, CA. His rabbinate centers on pursuing justice, inclusion, and good synagogue coffee. He works to incorporate avant-garde ideas that revitalize spirituality and community. With projects like Hip Hop High Holidays, he attempts to bridge ancient wisdom with contemporary culture to make our tradition relevant and accessible. He previously served Temple Sinai of Roslyn and Hillel at UCLA.

Finding Holiness in Hugs, Home & Hoagies

D'Var Torah By: Rabbi Alex Kress

The pandemic kept me away from Philadelphia for over a year and a half, the longest I had ever been away from my hometown. As the plane descended out of the clouds, I gazed down on the city and was overcome with emotion. So much of my life had happened down there: celebration and mourning, love and heartbreak, triumph and failure.

Confronting Violence and Injustice Against Women

D'Var Torah By: Rabbi Alex Kress

Because women close to me had never confided their experiences of sexual violence, I was shocked when they began to tell me – first one, then another, and another– that they had been raped, sexually harassed, touched without permission, or abused in other ways. Listening to their stories, trying to absorb their pain while controlling my rage, I felt guilty about my own ignorance and inaction. Why was I shocked at a truth that has been true for so long? Why had I never spoken out before?

In the End, There Was Love

D'Var Torah By: Rabbi Alex Kress

Just as Parshat Chukat lists the Israelites’ battles and resting places in their trek toward the Promised Land, so too should we mark our nation’s jagged journey toward racial justice. It is therefore appropriate to mark not just the official end of slavery with the phrase et vahev b’sufa, but also the continuing struggle against the legacy of Jim Crow – systemic racism.

Know Before Whom You Stand Before You Judge

D'Var Torah By: Rabbi Alex Kress

During the pandemic, I had a serious mental health breakdown and no one knew. Perhaps I seemed a little off or distant to my loved ones and coworkers, but the depth of my sorrowful disorientation remained mostly hidden to the outside world.

Choose Hope: The Story of Coach Ted Lasso and the Biblical Caleb

D'Var Torah By: Rabbi Alex Kress

In the story of the spies from this week’s parashah, we find the Torah’s version of soccer coach Ted Lasso, the protagonist of the TV series by the same name. While Joshua had a prophetic spirit that would later inscribe him in the canon, Torah says that Caleb “had merely a human spirit.” Caleb, like Ted Lasso, was just an optimistic, can-do guy.