Annual Report
Page 17
developed unique educational programs for early childhood, and
prepared kits for running festival ceremonies in the family in an
egalitarian and modern spirit. Having served for a year as rabbi of Brit
Olam Congregation in Kiryat Ono, she is now working toward establishing
a Reform day school in Tel Aviv. Her ordination speech stated “Over the
past few years I have met many people who do not know that they can
choose a different Judaism. People who feel they can only choose
between ‘all’ or ‘nothing.’ People who did not know that they could
choose a liberal, egalitarian, and modern way of life. We have chosen
to be emissaries. Our choice, as a Movement, as an educational
community, and as a religious congregation, is to offer every man
and woman freedom of choice.”
Rabbi Aharon Fox
grew up in an Orthodox Zionist home
and studied for six years in an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva. Fox spent ten
years in the Israeli Army, serving in command HQ positions in the
Paratroopers and in the Shaldag unit. He completed his B.A. and M.A. in
the Department of Jewish History at The Hebrew University and is
currently preparing to begin his Ph.D. studies. The desire to combine
academic studies and activity in the educational, cultural, and communal
spheres led Fox to the Kibbutz Givat Brenner High School, where he
taught Talmud and the philosophy of the Sages. He was also a fellow in
the Rikma program, which aims to rejuvenate Jewish life in Israel. His
decision to study for the Progressive rabbinate was a further manifestation
of his desire to help shape Jewish identity in Israeli society. He currently
works as an educational consultant at Beit Morasha in the Israel Defense
Force’s “Education and Destiny” project, continues to teach at Kibbutz
Brenner High School, and teaches courses on moral dilemmas and
attitudes to the ‘other’ at the pre-Army
course of the Israel
Movement for Progressive Judaism. At ordination, he said ”In a country
where everything is divided into halves – right- and left-wingers, religious
and secular, Orthodox and Reform, settler and non-settler – there is a
need for connections and bridges. We need to break down the walls and
achieve the simple and quintessentially Jewish understanding of what it
means to be ‘one of a
’ –
to know that all these need each other.”
Rabbi Alona Lisitsa
was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and immigrated to
Israel in 1991. In addition to earning her M.A. in English linguistics at
The Hebrew University, she studied in the Educator Course of the
Institute for Jewish-Zionist Education, which marked the beginning of her
career in informal Jewish education and led to her positions in the
Jewish Agency, Gesher, the JDC, and the Tower of David Museum. After
two years of serving the Conservative Masorti community as a
community and youth coordinator, she decided to pursue her rabbinical
studies at HUC-JIR and work toward an M.A. in Talmud and Halakhah at
Machon Schechter. Lisitsa has served as Director of the Department of
New Immigrant Activities in the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism
and currently serves as rabbi of Kibbutz Yahel. At HUC-JIR/Jerusalem,
she is developing Reform spiritual leadership for the Jewish communities
of the Former Soviet Union, with the generous support of the Charles
and Lynn Schusterman Foundation. Lisitsa noted at her ordination that
My friends, my teachers, and colleagues have been with me
throughout the journey…HUC-JIR and the congregations that have
welcomed me as a member or a rabbi have provided wonderful
laboratories in which I could grow, experiment, and, above all, take
risks with the content of my work.”
Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked
grew up in Netanya, the descendent of founders
of that city. As a child, he was deeply influenced by the tradition of
Practical Zionism” as embodied by the elders of his family. His military
service in the Armored Tank Corps was recognized by the Order of the
Outstanding Soldier, bestowed upon him by President Ezer Weizman
in 1996. After the Army, Shaked went to the United States, where he had
his first encounter with the world of Progressive Judaism as a counselor
at the Reform Movement’s Olin-Sang-Ruby Institute summer camp in
Wisconsin. The sense of elation that he felt at the camp was the
foundation for his decision to pursue the rabbinate. At the same time
as he studied for a B.A. in History and Classical Studies at Tel Aviv
University, he worked in informal education and youth counseling. He
was active in the student struggles of 1998, and during this period was
offered the opportunity to coordinate the Young Adult Leadership Forum
of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism in Tel Aviv. This was the
beginning of his involvement in Beit Daniel, the congregation that, until
recently, served as both his spiritual and professional home. Shaked
has studied Exegesis and Culture at Bar Ilan University, where he
recently completed his M.A. and began his doctoral studies. He intends
to write his thesis on the subject of “The Perception of Sanctity in the
Transition from the Second Temple Period to the Mishnaic Period.”
Shaked now serves as head of the Carmel Yeshiva, a new Zionist and
Progressive study program for young Jews from the Diaspora operating
under the auspices of the Lokey School of Jewish Studies at the Leo
Baeck Education Center in Haifa. Haifa University has accepted
academic responsibility for the program and has been involved on a
conceptual level in its development. At ordination, he expressed his
gratitude to HUC-JIR by saying “For me, this College-Institute represents
the chain of transmission of study and thought, exegesis, debate, and
profundity that are the pride of our ancient heritage.”
Sheila Lambert (left) dedicating the David and Roslyn Sonabend
Professorship for an Emerging Scholar, endowed in honor of her and her
sister, Erica Frederick’s (right) parents, Roslyn and David Sonabend
second and third from right).