Rabbi David Evan Markus embodies joyful Jewish passion in many forms – traditional and innovative liturgy, classical and modern music, spiritual poetry and mentorship, mystical practice, uplifting text study and heart-centered humor – to breathe new energy into Jewish life for today and tomorrow.
Rabbi David is North America’s only pulpit rabbi simultaneously serving full-time in government. Unique in modern Jewish life, David’s parallel-track commitments to public service weaves the spiritual and secular on terms fully authentic to each, and holds prominent leadership roles in both. For his historic contributions to both spheres, Jewish Week honored David as one of its “36 to Watch in Jewish Life” for 2022.
IN SPIRITUAL LIFE
David is a dynamic prayer leader, and a creative and empowering catalyst for learning and transformation. He serves as senior rabbinics faculty at the Academy for Jewish Religion (New York’s pluralist accredited seminary) and past faculty in rabbinics and spiritual direction for ALEPH. A Rabbis Without Borders fellow, David is a sought-after officiant, shabbaton anchor and scholar in residence for communities and conventions across North America. He has been lead presenter at Yeshivat Maharat, Isabella Freedman, Limmud New York, Routes DC, Limmud Toronto, Pride Ottawa, Hillel, CLAL and OHALAH (trans-denominational clergy association for Jewish Renewal).
An accomplished vocalist, pianist and composer, David directs TBE’s Band by the Sea melding Jewish tradition, congregational favorites and original heart-opening originals commissioned for TBE and freely shared with other congregations. A prolific writer, David has published widely in The Forward, The Wisdom Daily, My Jewish Learning, prayerbooks and online platforms. With R. Rachel Barenblat, he co-edited Beside Still Waters (Ben Yehuda 2019), and serves as senior editor for Bayit: Building Jewish – a trans-denominational Jewish creativity initiative whose Board of Directors he also chairs.
David maintains an active spiritual direction practice for seekers of all traditions and backgrounds, including clergy and students. With his unique grounding in governance and community leadership, David also serves as congregational and board consultant for communities within and beyond denominational life. David was honored to serve as co-chair of ALEPH, umbrella organization for the Jewish Renewal legacy of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l.
David earned ordination after six years of study with ALEPH and a summer term at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Rabbi David is blessed to count among his teachers Rabbi Dr. Arthur Green (Hebrew College), Rabbi Jeff Fox (Yeshivat Maharat) and Dr. Erica Brown (Yeshiva University). He earned a second ordination as mashpia (spiritual director), also from ALEPH, and a graduate certificate in spiritual entrepreneurship from the exe executive Masters in Business Administration program at Columbia Business School.
David came to Temple Beth El as an intern in 2009. The community promoted him to Associate Spiritual Leader in 2011, then co-rabbi in 2015 alongside Rabbi Shohama Wiener. The congregation unanimously promoted David to Senior Rabbi as of July 1, 2019.
IN SECULAR LIFE
David is a multiple award-winning public servant for the people of New York. He presides as judicial referee in New York Supreme Court, Ninth Judicial District. He is a member of numerous access to justice initiatives and the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Lawyer Assistance, and is passionately committed to equity and wellness throughout the justice system. He is a regular teacher in continuing legal / judicial education programs on substantive law, ethics and wellness.
David’s prior public roles include Deputy Counsel under New York Chief Judges Jonathan Lippman and Judith Kaye, Special Counsel to the New York Senate Majority, Deputy Director of Voter Protection for a winning presidential campaign, senior law secretary with the New York Court of Appeals, legislative director in the New York Assembly, and policy aide to environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
He has served as faculty in graduate public administration at Pace University, and undergraduate political science and public policy at Fordham and Pace Universities. He has been a regular lecturer in continuing legal and judicial education programs across New York.
David earned a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from Williams College; a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, and a Masters in Public Policy (as Wilmers Fellow for State and Local Government, on full merit scholarship) from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he was the first ever to earn Harvard’s global Innovator in Public Service designation while still a student.
David lives in Westchester County, New York, and is an avid Yankees fan (especially when visiting Massachusetts).