Rabbi Alan LaPayover, director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College’s Mordecai M. Kaplan Library, is, at heart, an educator. And the library — both its physical space and digital presence — is his classroom.
A 2002 RRC graduate, as well as an experienced librarian, LaPayover imparts one of the most valuable skills students will need as rabbis: knowing where to look when one does not know an answer. LaPayover is passionate about helping students become lifelong learners of Torah and Jewish text. He empowers students to find texts and resources they need, both within the library’s collection and in the vast, wider world of information beyond its walls. Additionally, he serves as a resource and guide for students wrestling with texts in RRC’s beit midrash.
His managerial and oversight responsibilities include the library’s budget and its book collection, which contains the most up-to-date materials in addition to publications reaching across the wide breadth of Jewish history. LaPayover also manages the library’s online catalogue to ensure a friendly and smooth user experience for remote and onsite users.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he assumed editorial management of Reconstructing Judaism’s Virtual Shabbat Box. Each week, the Virtual Shabbat Box brings curated resources — articles, videos, blessings, songs — to enhance the Shabbat experience for hundreds of people.
In May 2010, LaPayover joined the staff of the Mordecai M. Kaplan Library as associate librarian. Since 2015, he has served as its director. The Kaplan Library is housed within Goldyne Savad Library Center.
He had previously served as associate rabbi of Congregation Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley, Pa., and interim rabbi of Congregation Tiferes B’nai Israel in Warrington, Pa. He also has been on the faculty of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School at Gratz College, and has taught various adult-education classes at Philadelphia-area synagogues. As a Jewish educational consultant for the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, LaPayover was part of an interfaith team that designed and oversaw the curriculum for the Center’s very successful “Walking the Walk” teen program.
LaPayover is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and holds a master’s degree from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
In 2020, Rabbi Alan LaPayover delivered a talk titled “A House Is Not a Home, but Can a Sukkah be a Temple?” as part of Recon Connect Beit Midrash.
In 2021, Rabbi Alan LaPayover delivered a talk titled “What? Passover AGAIN??!!” as part of Recon Connect Beit Midrash.