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Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
2005-2006
Annual Report
Pioneering Pluralism in Israel
S
ix new Israeli rabbis, brimming with passion for
the Progressive Movement, pluralism, and the
Jewish people, were ordained at the Ordination and
Academic Convocation ceremony at Mercaz Shimshon
on the HUC-JIR campus in Jerusalem on November
10, 2006.
They are the pioneers of liberal Judaism in
a society thirsting for alternatives to the extreme poles of
Orthodoxy and secularism, seeking to reconnect with
their Jewish heritage in new and innovative ways.
They will be joining the 39 rabbinical alumni now
serving Progressive Judaism in Israel today, trans-
forming the Jewish future of the Jewish state in
which they live.
Liberal Judaism was a revelation for
Avraham
Yitzhak (Stanislaw) Wojciechowicz
(
known as
Stas), who was born in Communist Uzbekistan in
1977.
Stas’s first encounter with Jewish life was after
the fall of the Soviet Union, when he attended a
Chabad-sponsored summer camp. It wasn’t until he
immigrated to Israel after high school and encoun-
tered the Progressive Movement congregation Or
Chadash in Haifa that he found a spiritual frame-
work that would comply with the modern Jewish
lifestyle that he found and loved in Israel. As a rabbini-
cal student, Stas has worked to promote liberal Judaism
in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) and among immi-
grants from the FSU living in Israel. He has established
himself as a rabbinical emissary at summer camps and
congregations throughout the Ukraine, creating oppor-
tunities for learning in communities that are newly
discovering their Jewish heritage.
Ezra Nadav Ende
,
the son of American and Iraqi
olim
,
strives to promote the development of what he
calls
Caring Congregations –
supportive, mutually sus-
taining Reform Israeli communities. He came to the
Israeli rabbinical program with a background in the
Masorti Movement and degrees in education and
Jewish Studies from The Hebrew University and the
Schechter Institute. His educational work with
Mevakshei Derech Congregation in Jerusalem and
his serious involvement in the Israel Movement for
Progressive Judaism opened a new world to him and
created within him the urge to fulfill his ambition
of becoming a Reform rabbi, which he views “as a
privilege and a religious mission.” Upon completion
of his studies, Ezra and his family decided to spend
some time in the United States, where he currently
serves as the assistant rabbi at Temple Sinai in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Ilana Baird
was born in the Russian city of
Chelyabinsk, just east of the Ural Mountains, the
great-granddaughter of one of the first Jewish busi-
nessmen granted permission by the Tsar to live and
work in Russia. After making
aliyah
with her family
in 1993, Ilana pursued degrees in the Study of the
Land of Israel and History of the Jewish People at
Haifa University. She continues to honor her Russian
heritage by working with new immigrants and con-
verts from varying backgrounds in Belarus and else-
where in the FSU, serving as a liaison between com-
munities there and in Israel. She teaches
b’nai mitz-
vah
classes for the Russian-speaking community in
Israel, and incorporates Hasidic stories into intimate
Shabbat
services as a means of inspiring a meaningful
Jewish and Israeli identity.
Nava Hefetz
is the director of the educational
department of Rabbis for Human Rights, and is
an advocate for human rights programming in the
(
From left) Dr. Yehoyada
Amir, Director of the
Israel Rabbinical Program,
and Rabbi Ellenson with
newly ordained Rabbis
(
front) Ilana Baird, Nava
Hefetz, Ezra Nadav Ende,
(
back) Avraham Yitzhak
(
Stanislaw) Wojciechowicz,
and Corrie Zeidler, Rabbi
Michael Marmur, Dean,
HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, and
newly ordanined Rabbi
Ofek Meir.