Meet Our Rabbi

Meet Our Rabbi

Rabbi Joshua Neely was born and raised in San Diego, California, and a rare 3rd generation Californian. With a mother who was a religious school director, he grew up around synagogues and Jewish learning. Rabbi Neely studied philosophy and political science as an undergraduate at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He entered graduate school to pursue a higher degree in political science but decided that academia was not the right place to be.

He then traveled to Japan to teach English and pay off student loans. His one-year visit turned into three-and-a-half when he met his British wife-to-be, Penelope. Together, they returned to California when he entered the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. Their daughter Hannah was born four months before they left for Israel for a year. He was ordained in 2006 and was fortunate to become part of the Beth Israel community in Baltimore, where he served as the second rabbi for four years and where his son Nathaniel was born.

Rabbi Neely moved to Orlando in 2010 to be part of the vibrant community of Temple Israel. He is proud of the community’s hands-on approach to Judaism and open leadership structure. “Judaism is meant to be lived, not merely observed.”

Over the years, he has become known for his thought-provoking sermons and classes, covering a wide range of topics. Together with Cantor Kim Singer of Temple Shir Shalom, he runs the MAGAL religious school and gets to spend hours with the students each week; this means he knows them well by the time they start studying with him to become B’nai Mitzvah.

“I wanted to be a congregational rabbi so that I could be part of the lives of all types of people. The treasures of Judaism belong to everyone, and we belong to each other. That’s what it is all about.”

To get to know Rabbi Joshua Neely, Temple Israel invites you to join us for in-person or livestreamed services and encourage you to explore his educational YouTube channel. Connect with Rabbi Neely directly by emailing [email protected] or calling his cell (321)279-5315. Rabbi Neely is available to meet in person, by phone, or Zoom at your convenience.