Kessler was born in Houston, Texas. He studied for his doctorate, in Texas Jewish history, at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion and received his BA from the University of Texas in Austin. His long interest in Texas Jewish history lead to him founding the Texas Jewish Historical Society in 1980. Today the society has grown to more 750 members and has sponsored and supported research for scholars and students of Texas Jewish history.
After graduating from the University of Texas, and being ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati he served as director of the Texas Hillel, the Hillel that serves the students attending the University of Texas. While there Kessler taught very popular courses in the Religious Studies programs at UT and served on several committees at the request of the president of UT. His strong dedication to education and youth continues to this day through his serving as Campus minister to Jewish students at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) as well as his position as Jewish chaplain for patients at UTMB's hospitals.
Kessler has led Congregation B'nai Israel for over 25 years.