Meet Our Rabbi
Rabbi William Hamilton
Rabbi William G. Hamilton has led Kehillath Israel since 1995. He strives to activate Torah in the service of meaningful living – nourishing growth, solacing grief, and deepening joy.
Empowering learners is at the heart of his leadership approach. Lay-leaders, Jews-by-choice, and rabbinic interns, all take responsibility for creating community and celebrating Judaism. A commitment to inclusion is also central to Rabbi Hamilton. His deep involvement with the Ruderman Foundation’s work for disability inclusion alongside his Board leadership with New England Yachad, complements a principled commitment to gender, ideological, and diversified practice inclusion at KI.
Rabbi Hamilton’s vision for partnership practice now shapes a new century at Kehillath Israel. Establishing a campus that hosts five prayer-communities and several other agencies under his leadership has made KI the subject of a Harvard Business School Case-Study. His impact and influence are strengthened by exceptionally strong engagement with Israel. As a founder of The David Project (Campus advocacy) and the New England Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces, Rabbi Hamilton regularly brings groups on specialized tours of Israel. He sees resourcing Israel as essential to deepening Jewish commitments and furnishing richer inner-lives.
His leadership in civic settings also distinguishes his voice throughout our region. For twenty years he has served as Chaplain of the Massachusetts State Police, on the Board of ADL, and on Harvard University’s Board of Ministry.
He enjoys playing sports and rooting for local teams. His wife, Debbie Block, an accomplished historian and educator, gathered, produced and edited Kehillath Israel: The First 100 Years.
Meet Our Senior Staff
Barnet Kessel has been Executive Director of Kehilath Israel since 2020. He came to KI from the Vilna Shul in historic Beacon Hill, which he led for 7 years through the restoration and modernization of the landmark building and an institutional transformation that placed it at the vanguard of Jewish life in downtown Boston. Prior to running the Vilna, Barnet led a fourth-generation family manufacturing business for 24 years.
Barnet previously served on the boards of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Jewish Community Relations Council, Council of American Jewish Museums, and the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts. He is actively involved in numerous philanthropic efforts, including Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Pan Mass Challenge, and Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks. He holds a BS from Syracuse University’s School of Management. Barnet lives in Newton Centre with his wife Nava and their four children.
Director of Programs
Anna Winestein is a cultural historian, curator, and arts entrepreneur. She has previously served as Creative Director for the Hermitage Museum Foundation and a consultant on film and other programming to museums, including the National Gallery of Art (DC). In 2009 she co-founded the Eurasia-focused arts non-profit Ballets Russes Arts Initiative. Anna has curated exhibitions for the Boston Public Library and Sotheby’s, among others, and lectured at the NGA, Sotheby’s Institute of Art (London), Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (NY) and elsewhere. She has also authored, co-authored, edited or translated books, exhibition essays and articles for academic and lay audiences. She is a research affiliate of the Davis Center at Harvard University.
A former Fulbright Scholar, Anna holds separate graduate and undergraduate degrees in history, economics, art history and painting from Boston University and Oxford University, where her dissertation examined artists from the Russian empire in Paris from 1870 to 1917. Her research encompasses visual art, dance, theater, film and social history and international cultural exchange. Anna was born in Leningrad, USSR, immigrated to the US in 1991 and grew up in Brookline. She has also lived in London, Paris, Zurich and Astana, Kazakhstan. She now resides in Brighton with her partner George. She is an avid ballroom and social dancer, wine and spirits aficionado and bicyclist.
Director of Family Engagement
Lisa Redisch comes to Kehillath Israel and Boston from Washington DC, where she has been living and working for the past decade. Following her undergraduate degree in Jewish Studies from the University of Maryland, Lisa moved to Washington where she worked as a teacher, tefillah educator, and art/ dance specialist at the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation’s Capital, now known as Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School.
For the past four years, she worked as the Director of Youth & Family Programs at Ohev Sholom- The National Synagogue, where she built and developed numerous programs for children of all ages. In 2017, Lisa earned her Masters degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew College, through their online program. When Lisa is not building community and or having fun with children, you can probably find her making art, baking and cooking, hiking and being outdoors, or spending time with her friends and family- maybe even several of those at once!
Director of Early Childhood Education
With a passion for early education and a wealth of experience in the field, Katie is thrilled to begin her journey as Director of Early Childhood Education at Kehillath Israel. A strong advocate for high-quality learning experiences, Katie has made a significant impact in the field through various roles, including teaching, curriculum creation, as well as leadership positions.
Katie began her studies at Boston University, where she completed her undergraduate degree while running a tutoring program in Boston Public Schools. This early experience allowed her to develop a deep understanding of the educational needs and challenges faced by young learners in diverse environments.
Building on this foundation, Katie pursued a graduate degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education and Hunter College, further honing her skills and knowledge in providing effective learning opportunities for young children. During her studies, Katie gained invaluable experience teaching in New York Public Schools.
Driven by a desire to return to the Boston area community and raise her children in the same warmth and diversity she experienced as a child, Katie moved out of New York and embarked on her career at Kehillath Israel. Initially joining as a passionate and dedicated teacher in the Parparim classroom, Katie quickly demonstrated her expertise and leadership potential, earning the role of Curriculum Coordinator and later Assistant Director.
Katie welcomes opportunities to collaborate with fellow educators, families, and stakeholders to create an environment that empowers young learners to thrive and reach their full potential.
Director of Musical Engagement
Ariel Wyner is an arranger, videographer, composer, producer, mandolinist, and vocalist based in Boston, Massachusetts. His musical works have pushed the boundaries of pop, bluegrass, jazz, and every style in between, all stemming from his strong foundation of classical training.
Ariel has been a source of musical joy and spirituality long before his role at KI through performances with Jacob’s Ladder, the premier Jewish Bluegrass band.
Before diving into other genres, Ariel studied Opera Performance at Northwestern University, where he was a Central Region NATS winner and Bel Canto Finalist. He went on to sing with Choral Arts Philadelphia, The Jerusalem Chamber Choir with the Israeli Philharmonic.
Ariel is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Contemporary Writing and Production, where he discovered his passion for American Roots music. He was commissioned in 2021 by Freshgrass at Mass Moca and Berklee College of Music to compose the “Bluegrass Concertos” alongside The Steep Canyon Rangers.