Joel D. Newman, Rabbi
BA, BHL, FLBC, DD
Joel D. Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Dallas, Texas. He attended Columbia University in New York where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, and concurrently attended the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Hebrew Literature.
From 1977 until 1981, Rabbi Newman lived in London, England while attending the Leo Baeck College and culminated in the conferring of his Rabbinic Ordination. He was also a Rabbi of two congregations in London, scribe to the Jewish Religious Court of London and Senior scribe to the “Precious Legacy,” repairing and cataloguing the 1,600 Holocaust Torah Scrolls (5 Books of Moses) saved from the Nazis.
He returned to the United States, where from 1981 until 1992 he served as the spiritual leader of congregations in St. Paul, Minnesota and in Denver, Colorado.
Commissioned as a Naval Officer in 1990, Rabbi Newman received orders to serve with the Marines at Camp Pendleton, California. As a Navy Chaplain, for the next 23 years, he traveled to East Africa, Ecuador, Singapore, Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Horn of Africa, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Bahrain, including the ships in the Persian Gulf. He traveled through Kuwait on his way to Afghanistan for his tenth “combat deployment” in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While serving with the Marines, he deployed a thirteenth time to the Arabian Gulf for “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Rabbi Newman arrived at the United States Naval Academy in June of 2002 where he served as the Jewish Chaplain and as an Ethics instructor in the “Moral Reasoning for Naval Leaders” Ethics Class taught to sophomores. While at the Naval Academy, he spent three years in the design and planning of the new Commodore Uriah P. Levy Jewish Chapel.
Commander Newman retired from the Navy on 01 June 2014 after over 23 years of honorable service and 27 deployments.
During his rabbinic career, Rabbi Newman was made a “Senior Fellow of the Leo Baeck College” London, England and he received a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, from the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York.
Rabbi Newman is married to Janet, who was an Adjunct Professor with the School of Education at the University of Maryland, taught for 35 years in public and private schools in California and Colorado. She completed her Ph.D. in Education at the University of Denver in 1996. They have two daughters.
Michelle Cohn Levy, Cantor
Cantor Michelle Cohn Levy joined B’nai Vail to serve as the congregation’s full time Cantor in the summer of 2015. She lives in Gypsum with her husband Seth and their three daughters, Ziva, Maya, and Lila, the latter two born just down the road at Vail Health.
Since the age of 14 Michelle has been teaching and leading Jewish music in various capacities including as a songleader for her NFTY region, a staff member at Jewish overnight summer camps (OSRUI and CLTC), a regular fixture at the annual URJ music intensive Hava Nashira, and as an early childhood music specialist at several synagogues. She has been a guest Cantor for simchas in eight states and been a fill in lead singer for the Israeli band Nava Tehila.
Cantor Michelle skillfully engages adults, teens, and children alike to join her in song with enthusiasm, love for Judaism, and passion for music.