Rabbi Michael Barclay (הרב משה ישראל בן אברם הכהן) is an American rabbi, author, and lecturer. The founding rabbi of Temple Ner Simcha in Westlake Village, Ca. (www.nersimcha.org), he is recognized as an insightful theologian who integrates authentic Jewish theology into 21st century situations, and is the recipient of the 2011 Bnai Zion Distinguished Humanitarian Award.
Rabbi Barclay was born in Los Angeles in 1963, the son of an auctioneer and descendant of rabbis from Chernigov in the Ukraine. He graduated UC Berkeley and did his rabbinic studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion Los Angeles, as well as personal training with leading rabbis of the 20th century including Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz z”l and Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum; and was both the Hillel Director and taught in the School of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Rabbi Barclay has additionally spent over thirty years with various indigenous tribal cultures, and serves as a Padrino in the Yaqui tribal ceremonies.
Rabbi Barclay is a frequent Torah commentator for The Jewish Journal as well as contributor for multiple periodicals including The Jewish Forward, The Jewish Times, The Acorn, and PJ Media. He authored “Sacred Relationships. Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together” (2013, Liturgical Press), a Biblical commentary that has the rare privilege of being endorsed by academics and leaders of multiple faith traditions including rabbis, ministers, bishops, representatives of the Vatican, and the Chancellor of Oxford.
In 2016, Rabbi Barclay founded Temple Ner Simcha, the first non-Orthodox synagogue in the nation with no membership dues; no cost for High Holiday tickets, classes, and events such as lectures and concerts; and no financial costs for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs or tutoring. The full service synagogue subsists entirely on donations and grants. Ner Simcha is inclusive and trans-denominational, using Conservative prayer books but often praying the liturgy in English, utilizing internationally known musicians in services including Sam Glaser as the High Holiday Cantor; and the majority of teachings and guest lectures are based on traditionally observant Jewish theology and Kabbalah. The inclusive theological practices and business model has been emulated around the country, starting a nationwide “movement” of synagogues with “no dues” policies.
Rabbi Barclay has served as a peak performance coach for athletes and business executives seeking an extra edge in their field including Oscar and Emmy Award winners, NCAA athletes, CEOs of multiple corporations, and the Chicago White Sox. He lectures across the world on Judaism, cross-cultural mysticism, and Jewish understandings of politics and ethics; and is brought around the globe to officiate life cycle events.. Most importantly, he is the father of twin boys who constantly remind him to live fully, passionately, ethically, and with gratitude for the gift of each moment of Life.