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.
“We are either rushing or resting. One or the other,” Rabbi Samantha Natov observes. But dwelling in our sukkahs, being both outdoors and indoors, teaches us to “dwell in contradiction,” she says. “Instead of running from one moment to another, we can strive to integrate peace into whatever moment we find ourselves in.”
“Hayom, the sound of the shofar implores us to wake up,” says Rabbi Sam Natov. “This is the time to allow our hearts to break open. It is only when we are present to that which causes us pain that we can move with it and grow…”
In an increasingly digital world, “we have flattened and simplified our interactions with one another and even, at times, our expectations for ourselves,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov, imagining a world where we always choose community, connection and life… On Erev Rosh Hashanah, she says: “Tonight, we engage in the work of teshuvah as a community. The energy of our prayers is exponentially enhanced by being together. We are spiritually enriched by each other’s presence.”
Each day after we wake, “we ask God to open our eyes,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. What are we missing because we’re too busy looking at our phones or our feet? As we approach the High Holy Days, “may we open ourselves up to new avenues of perception.”
“Loving can be challenging,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov — as evidenced by the internal strife that threatens to pull Israel apart. “May love guide us and reunite us.”
Blessings From Struggle
In this week’s parashah, Zelophehad’s five daughters win their appeal to Moses — and God — to inherit their late father’s land, blazing a new trail for all the daughters of Israel. “We can only imagine how this momentous event shifted their sense of who they were within society and what was possible for them,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov. “This struggle against injustice never ends — yet from struggle, blessings may come.”
The Truth Before Us
“It’s amazing how we can be so immersed in our own selves that we don’t see what’s right in front of us,” says Rabbi Sam Natov. In this week’s parashah, even Balam — a prophet — is unable to see the angel blocking his path until God opens his eyes. “To see means being humble enough to open ourselves to a different perspective.”
Counting Toward The Unknown
“We usually count up when we don’t know what to expect,” says Rabbi Samantha Natov as we mark off the 49 days of the Omer, the time between the second day of Passover and the start of Shavuot. “The rabbis, in their wisdom, had us count this way in order to embody the experience of the Israelites — walking into the unknown.” Who knows what our journeys will bring?
What Does It Mean To Be Holy?
Rabbi Samantha Natov turns to this week’s Parashat Kedoshim (Holiness Code) to answer this important question. The code “may at first glance seem to be hopping from topic to topic,” she says. “But if we look carefully we can see how these laws work together to implement boundaries that honor the dignity of each person, fostering healthy relationships.”
The Complacency of Silence
Rabbi Samantha Natov ponders why the high priest Aaron remained silent following the untimely death of his sons Nadav and Avihu. Amidst the rise in shootings and violence in our country, she asks, “What about our silence? When is our silence complicit in enabling tragedy?”
Recent Commentaries and Op-Eds
JTA: Torah is the anti-ChatGPT. But we can embrace artificial intelligence without losing our soul.
Apr 20, 2023
“The technology behind ChatGPT is either going to destroy the world or solve all of our problems,” our Rabbi Samantha Natov wrote in JTA News. She weighs the benefits and dangers of our new AI reality – and the drastic ways it will change how we connect with one another.
Gothamist: Where to celebrate Purim in NYC: A guide to the city’s parties, carnivals and more
Mar 4, 2023
Purim is a “celebration of the possibility for one person with a strong moral compass to make a difference,” our Rabbi Samantha Natov tells Gothamist. Head “Into the Spiel” with us this year as we continue our more than 30-year tradition of musical megillahs.
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.”