Rabbi Samantha Natov
(She, her, hers)
Office: (212) 877-4050, ext. 244
Rabbi Samantha Natov grew up in Dundas, Ontario. She holds a bachelor’s from McGill University and a master’s in musicology and ethnomusicology from the University of Virginia. Following her time as a cantorial soloist in Toronto, Rabbi Natov came to New York to earn her degree in sacred music from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. After working as a cantor at congregations in New Jersey and Brooklyn, she decided to become a rabbi. Rabbi Natov was ordained by HUC-JIR in 2015 and joined Stephen Wise Free Synagogue a few months later in July 2015.
As associate rabbi at Stephen Wise, she oversees the congregation’s adult education programming and social justice work.
What Carries Us
The ancient Israelites wandered the wilderness for 40 years, carrying the Holy Ark from place to place. “But it was not a burden,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov, “for the Ark carries those who carry it.” On this weekend of service, “may we, too, feel elevated and carried by the energy embodied in that moment of chesed.”
A Blessing for the New Year
“As we begin the secular new year, we find ourselves asking: Who should I be?” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. “Instead of asking who should I be in the coming year, we could ask: How can I better be with myself?” she continues, “The self I am now. Not the one I want to be. But who I am in each moment.”
The Wounded Lion Still Knows How to Roar
“We all have struggles, large and small, public or hidden, that we go through throughout our lifetimes. No one gets through life without tremendous loss,” says Rabbi Sam Natov as the COVID-19 cases have increased. “Yet we have the capacity for reaching inward for strength – even when it feels like we won’t have anything left.”
Blessings and Challenges
“On this Shabbat of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for our blessings and acknowledge the challenges that have made us who we are,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. “Just as water carves rock over time, the adversities we face shape us.”
“There are moments in life that feel so intensely awful that it seems as if they will go on forever,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. It’s in times like these when we may not see the whole picture. “Faith is not the belief that everything is going to be okay. Rather, faith is the belief that we, in every moment, can access a kernel of strength, of hope, of continuity.”
Mere weeks after Yom Kippur, many of us have already transgressed. “The midrash tells us that God created and destroyed 974 worlds before creating the world we know,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. “Just like Noah, we must leave things behind to start anew. But even wickedness survived the flood…”
Missing Out on Joy
“In the wake of Yom Kippur, we have cleared out the clutter of regret,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. “Sukkot gives us an opportunity to tap into joy” that we should be sure not to miss out on.
We Are Enough
“There is a kind of myth that we can hold onto balance for even more than a short time, but to be alive is to be in motion,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov this Erev Rosh Hashanah. “In prayer, we call to something infinite that unifies us beyond time and space. Tonight, we get to start again.”
That’s What Friends Are For
“What does a life of blessing look like? It’s easy to see that it’s the people in our lives who really matter,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. “This week’s Torah portion reminds us that we have the power to choose blessing — to let people into our lives.”
Responding to Need
In the wake of an earthquake in Haiti and the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, Rabbi Samantha Natov reflects on our duty to our fellow human beings: “We may be separated by our places of birth, and by the context of our life circumstances, but what connects us is far stronger. When we see a fellow human being suffering, and we are in a position of strength, the Jewish response is clear: we must help.” Give to our humanitarian aid fund by visiting swfs.org/aid.
Recent Commentaries and Op-Eds
NY1: Why Two Women’s March Events This Weekend Have Caused a Rift
Jan 18, 2019
With concerns still growing over this year’s Women’s March, leaders within Women’s March Alliance are working to distance themselves from the national organization whose leaders have been accused of anti-Semitism. A local offshoot of the national organization is holding a competing event. “It’s really a shame because it stands in the way of so much unity between us,” said Rabbi Samantha Natov of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, which held a meeting ahead of the march and where members of the Women’s March Alliance tried to ease fears about the march.
Associated Press: Schism leads to dueling women’s march events in NYC
Jan 18, 2019
Conflicts over control, inclusivity, and alleged anti-Semitism meant that women protesting on the second anniversary of the Women’s March on Washington were faced with competing demonstrations in New York City. Some Jewish groups pulled support for Women’s March Inc. and a Washington state chapter disbanded in protest. The leaders of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue urged its members to take part in the uptown march, affiliated with Women’s March Alliance. Rabbi Samantha Natov said she still has problems with the Women’s March Inc.’s reaction to allegations of anti-Semitism: “The leadership has not assuaged our most serious concerns,” she said. This story was picked up by The New York Times and The Washington Post, among other outlets.
YNET (Hebrew): American holiday, Jewish values
Nov 23, 2018
YNET spoke to our Rabbi Samantha Natov about how Thanksgiving — a secular holiday — incorporates Jewish values, like tikkun olam, which our volunteers embraced at a Thanksgiving dinner for guests of our on-site Next Step Men’s Shelter.
Kveller: Thanksgiving Is Basically a Jewish Holiday. Here’s Why.
Nov 21, 2018
Our Rabbi Samantha Natov explains how Thanksgiving is profoundly Jewish for a secular holiday, incorporating central Jewish values. “Thanksgiving offers us a chance to replenish ourselves with a sense of gratitude, well-being, and connection. And this is at the heart of Jewish life and practice.”