We are part of a great adventure of national rebirth, the greatest our
people has seen in modern times,” stated Rabbi Ellenson at Ordination
Ceremonies at HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem campus on November 12
. “
institution and its graduates are playing a decisive role in the unfolding
of life in the State of Israel and we feel privileged and blessed to be part
of this extraordinary development in the history of our people. Here, in
Zion, we are educating rabbis and liberal Jewish educators who will help
guide the State in accordance with the highest and most humane values
of our tradition. Judaism must flourish in this land, and we will continue
to play our part in that historic process. In addition, we are committed to
the renaissance of Jewish life in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), where
Jewish communities are seeking Jewish identity and religious affiliation.
As we prepare the professional leadership to fulfill our mission, we
require a faculty who not only produce and publish works of innovative
scholarship, but who also participate in the life of the Jewish community
and are gifted teachers and transmitters of Jewish life and heritage.”
With these words, Rabbi Ellenson inaugurated the first new academic
position at the Jerusalem School in over a decade, established by Sheila
Lambert, a member of the Board of Governors, and her husband, Bill
Lambert. They have endowed the David and Roslyn Sonabend
Professorship for an Emerging Scholar, in honor of Sheila’s beloved
parents. Set against the backdrop of the Old City, the dedication of the
Sonabend Professorship represented the fulfillment of three generations
of this family’s love and commitment to Israel – beginning with
grandparents who supported Eretz Israel from 1936 on, the Sonabends’
first trip to Israel in 1953, to Sheila’s and her twin sister, Erica’s, first trip
there in 1963, and the many, many long visits continuing to this day. The
David and Roslyn Sonabend Professorship will enable the Jerusalem
campus to support and nurture the scholarship and pedagogy of
a young, emerging faculty member, whose teaching and mentorship
will significantly strengthen the Israel Rabbinical Program as well as
the Year-In-Israel Program for all first-year rabbinical, cantorial, and
education students.
The bright future of Progressive Judaism in Israel, as well as its potential
for growth in the FSU, was also celebrated with the ordination of five new
rabbis, each of whom is ready to make a unique and significant impact
on liberal Judaism. They are among the 38 Israeli Reform rabbis building
and transforming Jewish life in the Jewish State and nurturing new liberal
communities in the FSU.
Born in Jerusalem,
Rabbi Yehoyada Amir
is a third-generation Reform
rabbi. His grandfather, Mannas Neumark, was ordained 100 years
ago in 1904 by the
Liberal Rabbiner Verein
at the instigation of Rabbi
Leo Baeck. His father, Yehoshua Amir, who served as the Liberal rabbi
of Duisburg, Germany, had been ordained at the Hochschule für die
Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin in 1939, shortly before its
destruction by the Nazis. After Amir’s military service in the artillery corps
and completing his Ph.D. in modern Jewish Philosophy at The Hebrew
University, he taught for several years in the Department of Jewish
Thought at The Hebrew University as well as at Ben Gurion University
of the Negev and at Beit Berl College. For two years he headed a task
force that prepared a new Jewish studies curriculum at the Alliance
School in Tel Aviv. The author of the recently published book,
Reason out
of Faith - The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig
Amir has been an active
member of the Progressive congregation Mevakshei Derech in Jerusalem
for over twenty years and has chaired the parent steering committee of
the Tali Bayit Vagan School. He has played a key role in the shaping of
HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, where he will continue to serve as Director of the
HUC-JIR Israel Rabbinical Program. Upon his ordination, he affirmed
his commitment “to look to the future with faith, knowing that through
the sanctity of the past and the full dynamism of the sanctity of the
present, we have the strength to bring succor and redemption to our
fellows and to society, and truth and peace to our people and all humanity.”
Rabbi Michal Conforti-Krik,
born in Ramat Gan, served as a non-
commissioned officer in the Israeli Army, where she was responsible
for education and Land of Israel studies. After studying junior high school
education and pedagogy at Levinsky College, she completed her M.A.
in the Department of History at Tel Aviv University. Her first encounter
with Progressive Judaism was at her younger brother’s
bar mitzvah
as part of his preparatory course, the whole family was invited to a
morning service and later to
kabbalat shabbat
at the Beit Daniel
Progressive congregation in Tel Aviv. She and her family chose to
become active members of that Progressive congregation, where she
has worked for five years in various congregational and educational
functions. Currently the director of its Education Department, she
has organized a group of young families who meet twice a month for
supervised the congregation’s twelve pre-school classes,
Page 16
Annual Report
Rabbis Ellenson, Aharon Fox, Yehoyada Amir, Alona Lisitsa, Sa’ar
Shaked, Michal Conforti-Krik, Michael Marmur, and Kinneret L. Shiryon
at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem’s Ordination Ceremonies.
HUC-JIR in Jerusalem Vitalizes Pluralism
in Israel and Former Soviet Union