HUC-JIR Announces the Ordination of the 100th Israeli Reform Rabbi at the Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Class of the 100th Israeli Reform Rabbi: (from left) Yair Tobias, Leora Ezrahi-Vered, Rinat Safania Schwartz, and David Laor. 

The 100th Israeli Reform Rabbi will be ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's (HUC-JIR) Rabbinical Ordination and Academic Convocation at the Taube Family Campus on November 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm at the Blaustein Hall at Merkaz Shimshon Beit Shmuel (6 Eliyahu Sham'a Street, Jerusalem). 

Honorary doctorates will be presented to Ron Huldai, visionary mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa for over 17 years, who will be honored for his leadership in creating a thriving progressive cultural, financial, and technological global city and forging tolerance and pluralism among its diverse inhabitants; Rabbi Meir Azari ’92, founder and leader of Beit Daniel and Beit Daniel Centers, who will be honored for his contributions to the spiritual, educational, and cultural life of his Tel Aviv-Jaffa community and his vital role in advancing Reform Judaism throughout Israel and around the world; and Meir Yoffe, head of the Education Department in the Zevulun Regional Council near Haifa, who will be honored for advancing meaningful Jewish-Arab coexistence Israel as a model for Israeli society as a whole. 

Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., HUC-JIR President, stated, "The ordination of our 100th Israeli Reform rabbi is a historic milestone in our mission to advance progressive Judaism and religious pluralism in the Jewish State. Our 100 Israeli rabbinical alumni are pioneers who are building communities, creating congregations, educating all generations, advancing egalitarian and LGBTQ inclusion, and promoting tolerance. They are sustaining tradition while transforming it to address the needs of contemporary Israeli Jewish life. They are providing a vital liberal option amid the polarity of ultra-Orthodoxy and secular Israeli identity. Reform and Conservative Jews now constitute approximately 8% of the Israeli population, and are growing in numbers. Our Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem, and its rabbinical, education, and chaplaincy programs, serve as important educational, spiritual, and cultural resources for Israelis seeking Jewish meaning in their lives. Our commitment to our programs in Israel represent the arevut, mutual sense of responsibility, that binds the Jews of Israel and world Jewry as we seek to strengthen these crucial links today and for the generations to come." 

Rabbi Michael Marmur, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost, added, "Seventy years after the creation of the State, these men and women are taking an active role in the creation of a new language of non-Orthodox Jewish commitment and creativity."

HUC-JIR's Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem is the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism in the State of Israel. It prepares Israeli rabbis, educators, and pastoral counselors who are building religious pluralism in the Jewish State; welcomes HUC-JIR's North American rabbinical, cantorial, and education students for their first year of study before returning stateside to the Cincinnati, Los Angeles, or New York campuses; and invites the larger Israeli community to educational and cultural programs.  

The Class of the 100th Israeli Reform Rabbi:

Leora Ezrachi-Vered is the daughter of the first woman to be ordained a rabbi in Israel, Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean of the HUC-JIR Taube Family Campus, and represents the 11th generation of rabbis in her family. She received her B.A. and M.A. from Tel Aviv University. She was the national director of the Israeli Reform youth organization Noar Telem, an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, served congregations Beit Tefiah Yisraeli in Tel Aviv and Tzur Hadassah, and was elected Councilwoman for her pluralistic community of 8,000 residents. She currently serves as the rabbi of Nigun Halev in Kibbutz Gvat in Emek Israel.  

David Laor was born in Mexico City, where he grew up and served Conservative communities as well as Kehila Neve Shalom in Cancun as an educator and religious leader. After receiving his B.A. in internet technology, he immigrated to Israel in 1990. He created a successful website in Spanish for teaching Judaism through video conferences and authored a Spanish book on Basic Judaism, as well. He received his M.A. from Haifa University. He serves the Reform congregations of Modiin’s Yozma and Ramat Hasharon’s Darkei Noam communities as an educator and leads bar/bat mitzvah projects.

Rinat Safania-Shwartz holds a B.A. in psychology and M.A.'s in educational counseling and pluralistic Jewish education. She was the director of the Reform Movement’s youth movement in Israel, and has implemented Jewish education programs as part of the Diller Fellows program linking Tel Aviv and Los Angeles. She is an educational consultant at a vocational high school for students not able to continue in the established school system and is a group facilitator for regional Jewish study programs serving diverse populations. She is serving as rabbi of the new Reform congregation in Shoham.

Yair Tobias grew up on Kibbutz Yahel, the Reform Movement kibbutz in the Arava. He earned a B.A. in Jewish philosophy and Bible from Tel Aviv University and the M.A. in Jewish Studies at the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem. He has years of experience in formal and informal education, including teaching in high school, founding “Beit Midrash Baderech,” and leading young adult programming for the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism.

In addition to the ordination of these four rabbis, fourteen students will receive certificates from the Blaustein Center for Spiritual Counseling Sugiyot Chayim Program: Sara Blankstein, Tzipi David-Goldberger, Tom Docci, Orya Dror, Roo Cohen Eilam, Dafna C. Feldman, Pnina Hemo, Odelia Barkin Kamil, Tamar Krygier-Armoni, Rinat Safania-Shwartz, Yonat Shapira, Rachel Simhi, Yael Vurgan, and Maya Cohen Walfish. The Blaustein Center is pioneering the new field of chaplaincy in the State of Israel. Its alumni provide pastoral care and counseling in a broad array of educational, healthcare, and communal settings throughout Israel. 

Questions? Contact us at 02-620-3333 or Jerusalem@huc.edu.

Please arrive at Blaustein Hall by 5:45 pm. The ceremony will last approximately two hours. Parking will not be available at HUC-JIR. Please allow enough time for parking.

Can't make it? Join us on the Livestream. 


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu