On May 31-June 1 the Jerusalem campus hosted a conference, "What Rabbinate Do We Need?" which addressed questions about the role of - and appropriate training for - the liberal rabbinate in the Jewish state. The keynote address, the annual Abramov Memorial Lecture, was delivered by well-known author Haim Beer, who spoke on "The Rabbi as an agent of culture." Panels on the following day dealt with the question of denominationalism, cultural factors impacting the effectiveness of the Reform rabbinate in Israel, and research on the motivation and training of Reform rabbis.
Speakers and attendees represented a broad range of institutions and religious ideologies, giving rise to lively and serious discussions. The conference was successful in achieving both of its primary goals: a) fostering the ongoing internal conversation within HUC-JIR on the roles and preparation of Reform rabbis in Israel today; and b) positioning HUC-JIR as a leader in thought and research in Israel in the areas of religion and society, and religious leadership.
Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, stated, ""What Rabbinate is needed in Israel today?" is a pressing and exciting question. As new models emerge and older ones are revitalized and adapted for Israel, our conference proved relevant and inspiring. We were able to convene speakers from across the liberal perspective, including 2 modern Orthodox rabbis. This discussion must continue and deepen as we shape the next generation of rabbis that can and must lead the ongoing search for community and Jewish identity in Israel."