Dear Kehillath Israel Congregants:

It is with great excitement that I write you this letter, the first of many as Executive Director of your (now our) Congregation Kehillath Israel. I am equally ecstatic and humbled by this opportunity, one that comes at a unique time in the history of the congregation, the campus, and the many communities which we call “home”.

Over the recent past, I have been fortunate to have many meaningful conversations with clergy, volunteer leadership, staff, and our partners.

What is clear is the wonderful commitment to the success of the synagogue and the innovative campus. I am thrilled and inspired to join you in that commitment.

I am eagerly anticipating immersing myself in all the day-to-day operations of KI, and I am also looking forward to getting to know as many of you as soon as possible. It is an honor to be part of the continued forward trajectory of the future of KI.


Barnet Wolf Kessel

Dear Congregants:

I am thrilled to announce that Barnet Kessel will join Congregation Kehillath Israel as our new Executive Director, effective June 22, 2020.

In 2012, KI began re-envisioning its future as we approached our 100th anniversary. This process included an assessment of our physical infrastructure, our partner relationships, and our role in the broader Jewish community. What emerged was KI Next – an innovative plan to build a multi-generational, multi-partner campus acting as a hub for Jewish life, learning, and connection in the greater Boston area.

Five years later, in November 2018, after successfully raising $24.5mm and partnering with Congregation Mishkan Tefila, 2Life Communities (then Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly), and other cultural organizations and minyanim, we joyfully opened the doors to our new home. The new campus is both embracive and invigorating. It is also a more rich and elaborate environment, elevating the need for professional, dedicated administration.

Barnet joins KI to support our mission and help realize the ever-expanding possibilities of our collaborative campus. Combining the acumen of a long and successful career in business and extensive operational and executive experience in running one of Boston’s premier Jewish institutions, he has a unique and pertinent background to take on this exciting and challenging role. Barnet comes to KI after serving for seven years as Executive Director for the Vilna Shul (The Vilna), Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture. He utilized his management expertise to bring excellence to daily operations, raise engagement, revenue, and capital to strengthen The Vilna‘s profile in Boston and nationwide. Prior to his role at The Vilna, Barnet worked in manufacturing for twenty-four years as VP of commercial products at Mantua Manufacturing Company and as CEO/COO of West End & Hub Spring Company. In addition, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP). Barnet lives in Newton with his wife, Nava, and their three children.

Personally, and speaking on behalf of KI’s Board, we are excited to welcome and work with Barnet. From our conversations, I know he is both humbled and honored to be joining the KI community. His signature will soon appear in many future communications, but to identify him in situ, look for his bow tie!


Gordon Bennett, KI President