NEWBURYPORT – Alex Matthews, congregational leader at Congregation Ahavas Achim (CAA) since 2019, will receive his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew College in Newton, on June 4, and will now assume the role of rabbi. His four-year ordination program included deep study of the Torah, Jewish traditions, and the importance of community building.
“Alex is truly the epitome of a phenomenal Jewish leader and we’re proud to be part of his journey to ordained rabbi,” said Debbie Pourati, president of CAA and a Newburyport resident. “We started working with him just as he began his studies at Hebrew College, and we’re excited to announce the evolution of his role as rabbi at our small but mighty congregation.”
Rabbi Matthews initially joined Ahavas Achim in 2015 and later became a spiritual leader and board member. His hiring as the congregational leader in 2019 marked a dedication from the community to his growth while he studied to become a rabbi. Highlights of his leadership include successfully steering the community through the pandemic and the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the congregation in 2022.
“This is a really exciting moment for me and the CAA community, and it’s been humbling and rewarding to lead the congregation throughout my time in school,” Matthews said. “When I enrolled at Hebrew College and accepted the job at CAA in 2019, it felt like a leap of faith for me and the synagogue, and we have learned and grown together over the last four years. I’m grateful to CAA and the Greater Newburyport community for supporting me through this journey. The learning I have accomplished in the last four years and the relationships that I have established will be invaluable for my rabbinic career.”
Matthews, 36, holds a B.A. from Cornell University. He worked for several years in Peru with the U.S. Peace Corps, and has hiked the Appalachian Trail in its entirety. Matthews grew up on the edge of New York City in Riverdale, NY, and has spent many years involved with farming and outdoor life. He and his wife McDonough “Mac” Scanlon, owner of High Road Farm, live in Amesbury. Θ
A special rabbinic fund has been created in honor of Matthews’ ordination. Donations can be made at caa-newburyport.org/payment. “A live stream of the ordination will be accessible at 12 p.m. on June 4. Matthews’ first Shabbat service as an ordained rabbi is on June 10 at 9 a.m. All are welcome. Congregation Ahavas Achim is located at 53½ Washington Street in Newburyport. Matthews can be reached at email@example.com.