Rabbi Rena Kieval has served for many years as a spiritual, educational and pastoral leader at Congregation Ohav Shalom and in the wider Albany community. She was ordained in 2006 by the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York. Prior to becoming full-time rabbi at Ohav Shalom, Rabbi Kieval served for seven years as the staff Jewish chaplain at Albany Medical Center, where she received formal chaplaincy training. In her earlier professional life, Rabbi Kieval earned a Masters degree in Social Work from Boston University and worked in the field of mental health. She later served as Jewish Family Educator at Hebrew Academy of the Capital District, implementing programs there, at Ohav Shalom and at other area synagogues. She was especially involved in creating innovative worship services for adults and children and in founding Ohav’s hevra kadisha, the traditional sacred burial society.
Rabbi Rena holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Barnard College, and has published journal articles related to Jewish text and to pastoral issues, as well as a book chapter coauthored with Rabbi Ornstein about clergy and healing. She and her husband Shalom are the proud parents of David, his wife Emily and Daniel Lev and grandparents of Mira and Yoni. They remember their son Jonathan through the work of Ohav’s Yad Yonatan chesed committee, which supports individuals with special needs, as well as those facing illness and bereavement.
Rabbi Rena’s additional interests include writing, reading, bicycling, kayaking and music.