Rabbi Maynard Bell, the spiritual leader for 25 years at Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, has been appointed executive director of the Arizona chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
He began his work Tuesday at the committee’s offices in Scottsdale.
Bell fills the post held by Rabbi Robert Kravitz for 19 years until he resigned Sept. 30. As director, Bell, 57, becomes a leading voice and advocate for the Valley’s Jewish population, which the committee estimates to be 90,000.
"Rabbi Bell will bring a fresh perspective and a broad vision to the organization’s mission," said Ken C. Smith, president of the chapter, which is marking its 40th anniversary this year.
The rabbi served Temple Solel, a Reform Jewish congregation from 1977 to 2002 before resigning to work in psychotherapy. During his tenure, the congregation grew from about 200 families to more than 900.
A native of Brookline, Mass., Bell earned an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Cincinnati and received his rabbinical degree from Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Institute of Religion. He was ordained in 1974. He recently received a master’s degree in counseling from Arizona State University.
Bell has twice served as president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix and was president of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis in 2003.
He said he looks forward to starting programs that focus on promoting understanding and mutual respect with other ethnic groups.
"In my recent experience as a student and therapist, my understanding of multiculturalism has grown, and I look forward to fostering relationships between the Jews and other ethnic and religious communities."
This year marks the centennial of the American Jewish Committee.