Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Annual Report
| Page 17
ix Israeli Progressive rabbis were ordained at the
Academic Convocation held on the HUC-JIR/
Jerusalem campus on November 14, 2008. These
new rabbis strengthen the cadre of 59 rabbinical
pioneers working to create a contemporary Judaism
that speaks to the values and lifestyle of modern
Israelis. Through their efforts, the Israel Movement
for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) is gaining ground
and furthering religious pluralism in the Jewish state.
The first son of a Reform woman rabbi ever to be
Daniel Alexander Meyer
took his first steps
toward ordination in Jerusalem at the age of eight,
while his father, Dr. Michael Meyer, Ochs Professor
of Jewish History, was teaching at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem
and his mother, Margaret Meyer, was studying in the
Year-In-Israel Program. At his
bar mitzvah
service at
HUC-JIR/Cincinnati, he announced his intention
to make
and at the age of sixteen, Daniel repre-
sented the American Jewish community in the World
Bible Quiz for Jewish youth on Israel’s thirtieth inde-
pendence day, winning eighth place. He was active
in the Reform youth movement in the U.S. and in the
Zionist movement Habonim throughout his teens.
At the age of nineteen, after completing a year’s stud-
ies at Columbia University, Daniel moved to Israel,
and worked as a youth leader. After serving in a com-
mand position in Nahal (Israel Defense Forces
infantry brigade), Daniel made his home on Kibbutz
Lotan, where he coordinated date-growing activities,
developed the progressive Jewish education system,
supervised Noar Telem (the youth movement of the
IMPJ), organized Jewish studies for the adult mem-
bers of the kibbutz, and helped to lead Jewish lifecycle
ceremonies. He studied Jewish history in the Open
University, completing a B.A. degree
cum laude
earned his M.A. in Jewish history in the Mishnaic
and Talmudic period at the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem. Daniel began his rabbinical studies in 2002
with the encouragement of Rabbi Meir Azari and
Rabbi Yehoram Mazor. He worked for over three
years as a student rabbi in Achvat Israel Congregation
in Rishon Lezion and wrote his rabbinical thesis on
Each Generation and Its Exegesists.” He is currently
beginning to work in Ra’anan Congregation as a
member of the team led by Rabbi Tamar Kohlberg.
Talia Avnon-Benvenisti
was born in Kibbutz Hemdiya
in the Beit Shean Valley, completed her military
service in the Air Force, and served as an educational
emissary in summer camps in North America under
the auspices of the Education Department of the
Jewish Agency for Israel. After receiving her B.A. in
Education and Social Sciences at Beit Berl College,
she joined the Ya’adim Institute for the Management
of Knowledge in Education, where she helped write
several curricula and books. In 2003 Talia joined the
educational staff at the Jewish Agency’s Institute for
Youth Leaders from Abroad, counseling groups and
promoting the professional development of diaspora
Jewish youth leaders. She completed her M.A. in
the fields of Bible and Midrash,
cum laude
at the
Shechter Institute last year. During her rabbinical
studies, Talia established the field of school programs
for the Education Department of Beit Daniel, which
today provides Jewish enrichment for thirty schools
in the Tel Aviv region, and was appointed director
of that Department. Talia’s rabbinical thesis discusses
the development of new prayers intended for mod-
ern, secular Jews, and for believers who seek to
enrich the language of prayer.
Strengthening Israel’s Progressive Future
continued on page 18)
Newly ordained
Israeli Progressive
Rabbis (from left)
Daniel Meyer,
Gili Zidkiyahu,
Nir Cohen, Orna
Pilz, Oshrat Morag,
and Tali Avnon-