HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Ordination and Academic Convocation 5772/2011 - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Ordination and Academic Convocation 5772/2011

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Friday, November 11, 2011

From left: Rabbi Michael Marmur, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs; Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean; Rabbi Gila Caine; Rabbi Shai Beloosesky; Rabbi Ariella Graetz-Bartuv; and Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, Director of the Israel Rabbinical Program


Three new rabbis for Israel’s Progressive Movement were ordained by Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), at the Ordination and Academic Convocation at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem at 13 King David Street on Friday, November 18, 2011.  The ordinees are Shai Beloosesky, Ariella Graetz-Bartuv, and Gila Caine.  These two women and one man join the 69 alumni of the Israel Rabbinical Program, established in 1975, which, with this new cohort, has ordained 72 Israeli rabbis to date to serve Progressive congregations, schools, and communities throughout Israel.

The academic convocation also featured the third cohort of graduates of the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Care and Counseling’s Mezorim Program: Yuki Bartura, Daniela Brafman, Yael Granit, Anna Michelle Gerrard, Debbie Lapin, Sandra Ahr, Noga Eshet, Ofra Feffer, Dr. Martin Vahrenhorts, Gila Caine, Imbar Rimon, Baruch Shalev, and Rachi Shamir.  These thirteen graduates – Reform rabbis, social workers, educators, and nurses -- are the emerging leaders of a new profession in Israel of pastoral caregivers that are introducing the role of chaplain to Israeli society.  They are redefining Jewish religious outreach, grounded in the values and mission of the Reform Movement, and are having an impact on the lives of many through their capacity to comfort, counsel, and care.   

Eleven graduates of the Life Texts – Talmudic Bibliotherapy Program received their certificates: Rabbi Judith Edelman-Green, Ada Ahiman, Vered Jaia Bogomoski Yahalom, Tova Birnbaum, Fruma Brickner, Dr. Hagit Dee-Noor, Dina Hertz, Rachel Walfish, Irit Tunik, Uri Lam, and Yehudith Miller-Zamir. This program is sponsored by the Blaustein Center for Pastoral Care and Counseling.

Rabbi Uri Regev was presented with the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree and present the Ordination Address. Sally Klein-Katz received the honorary Doctor of Education degree.  Cantor Mikhal Shiff Mater received the honorary Doctor of Music degree. Lia Van Leer was presented with the President’s Medallion.


Ordination Class of 2011 – HUC-JIR/ Jerusalem

Ariella Graetz Bar Tuv

Ariella Graetz Bar Tuv grew up in Omer, in the Negev, where her father served as the rabbi of a Conservative congregation and her mother was active in Jewish feminism. She was educated in the mamlachti school system and experienced the tension of being the only observant Jew in her totally secular class, and the only girl to mark her becoming a bat mitzvah by reading the entire Torah portion, as the boys in the synagogue did. After serving in the army, she moved to Jerusalem, where she received her B.A. in political science and philosophy from the Hebrew University and received her M.A. in Jewish Informal Education from the Schechter Institute.   Through her work for Jewish organizations such as "Nessiyah," "Kolot" and "Tehuda," she experienced all of the denominations of Judaism in Israel.  Feeling the "call" to serve as a rabbi so that she could promote liberal and pluralistic Judaism in Israel, she chose to study at HUC-JIR’s Israel Rabbinical Program. At the same time, she served for over five years as community coordinator at the Reform congregation Kol Haneshama. Three years ago, she and her family joined a group inspired by the Zionist-Jewish challenge to revive Kibbutz Hannaton in the Lower Galilee, which was on the brink of falling apart. Today they are partners in building a Jewish-Liberal-pluralistic kehillah that includes all of the religious streams, and she is the community director of the kibbutz.

Colonel Yeshiyahu (Shai) Beloseski

The grandson of Holocaust survivors and grandparents who fled the pogroms of Lvov (Lemberg) for Turkey, Colonel Beloseski inherited the core values of pluralism and of not taking anything for granted. His childhood immersion in Orthodox Judaism in their homes was the source for his great love of prayer, liturgical chanting (hazanut), Jewish music, and Jewish experience.

In 1980 Shai was enlisted to the Adjutancy Corps, where he held a range of many positions in the field of human resources, including Central Command adjutancy officer and adjutancy officer of a standing division and a reserve division. These experiences gave him skills in the fields of development, fostering, and realizing the potential of human resources.

He has initiated social and community activities, such as providing help to children and youth hospitalized at the Schneider Children's Medical Center, assisting mentally challenged children and adults, and giving support and assistance at afternoon school programs.

Among the many positions he has held, he served as assistant to the Military Secretary to Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Yitzhak Rabin, z”l. He studied political science at the University of Haifa, has a bachelor’s degree in Jewish studies and the history of the Jewish people, and is a graduate of the National Security College. Through his position as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, he has been given the chance to express the role of emissary.  It is the  ability to help people through humane military action that drives him forward.

Gila Caine

Although born to a modern Orthodox family in Jerusalem, Caine realized that she needed to find a new spiritual and religious path for herself while still a teenager at the Pelech High School.  After finishing her B.A degree in sociology and anthropology, she joined her husband in the northern city of Kiryat Shemona. Through her work with students at Tel Hai College and at the Rape Crisis Center, she understood how this kind of intimate work with people could be a holy experience, and that rabbinical work could help her connect the realms of interpersonal work and leadership in the community as a whole. Her rabbinical thesis explores the liturgical, spiritual, and ceremonial aspects of birth and labor in Jewish tradition and contemporary practice. This is part of her search to find more ways in which modern Judaism and contemporary rabbis and spiritual guides can help women and men in all aspects of their lives. She and her family now live in Tel Aviv, and she is serving as rabbi of Brit Olam Community in Kiryat Ono.




Rabbi Uri Regev, Esq., is the CEO of Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, an association that seeks to promote the full realization of the promise of equality and freedom of religion and conscience enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Hiddush is an Israeli-Diaspora partnership that operates as an apolitical body not identified with any Jewish stream, and enjoys the support of individuals from across the political and religious spectrum.  In addition to his rabbinical studies at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, Regev also studied law (graduating cum laude), Jewish philosophy, and Talmud at Tel Aviv University. He is active in various Israeli and international Jewish bodies and in human rights organizations, and lectures and writes on subjects relating to Judaism, pluralism, and freedom of religion. Before founding Hiddush, Regev served as the president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Earlier, he established the Israel Religious Action Center, which he headed for 15 years. In the spirit of IRAC’s motto – “For human equality, social justice and religious tolerance” – Regev led many of the key legal and public struggles in Israel on issues of religion and state, including the advancement of religious pluralism, the “Who is a Jew” issue, the religious councils, gender equality, and other issues. During his HUC-JIR studies in Jerusalem, Regev served as the assistant to the dean, Dr. Michael Klein, z”l. He later went on to direct the Israel Rabbinical Program at HUC-JIR. Regev’s involvement in Jewish renewal in Israel intensified in 1967, when he participated in an exchange program for students under the sponsorship of the American Reform movement. The experience exposed him both to Jewish pluralism outside Israel and to the struggle to promote human rights. 


Sally G. Klein-Katz (pictured, second from right) received her M.A.R.E. degree from HUC-JIR.  For 12 years, she directed summer camps and religious schools in the U.S.A.  Since making aliyah in 1985, she has been educator/consultant/coordinator of a variety of Israel seminars. She is a graduate of the Jerusalem Fellows, where she rethought the Israel Experience, directed a four-year research and development project for Melitz (Centers for Jewish-Zionist Education) for the Family Israel Experience, and was the chairperson and editor of Family Israel Experiences: The Ma Nishtana of Family Education Israel Trips. Since 1991, Sally ha served on the faculty at HUC-JIR for the overseas graduate seminar on Jewish Education and the Mandel Leadership Initiative inquiry groups. At the Conservative Yeshiva, she was Coordinator of the Legacy Heritage Program and currently teaches in their summer program. She is an educational consultant to the Overseas Department of Merchavim, The Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel, and is author of their Madrich L’Madrich for family educational programs for English speakers. She was the Coordinator/Faculty for the JESNA Graduate Seminars in Israel from 1999-2006. She is also an Education Consultant and Strategic Planning Consultant for various Jewish Federations, Jewish colleges, and Boards of Jewish Education from North American and England. From 2002 - 2006, she was responsible for Staff Development at the URJ OSRUI camp in Wisconsin. She has published widely on subjects within Jewish Education.



Mikhal Shiff Matter grew up in a musical home filled with classical and Jewish liturgical music in Miami, and as a teenager sang in her father’s choir and learned Yiddish songs with her grandfather.  Though active in youth group and synagogue music, the option of becoming a cantor was only just available to women, so after earning a music degree from University of Miami in 1975, she studied at Manhattan School of Music, while serving as a Cantorial soloist in Brooklyn.  Summers she apprenticed at the Santa Fe Opera and was a Fellow at the Aspen and Tanglewood music festivals.  She began her cantorial studies at HUC-JIR in 1982, receiving a Master of Sacred Music and investiture as a cantor.  In 1988 she decided to spend a year in Israel, which led to her marriage, starting a family, and a continuing association with Dr. Eliyahu Schleifer and the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem campus as teacher, coach and cantor.  She has also served congregations in New York, Arizona, Texas, Missouri, Haifa, and Warsaw, Poland.

In Israel Mikhal teaches voice, directs the Hashmiini women’s ensemble, sings in the Allegresse women’s quartet, concertizes (primarily in Yiddish), and performs Gilbert and Sullivan and Broadway musicals.


Lia Van Leer (pictured, left) was born in the Bessarabia region of Romania in 1924, and grew up in a European Jewish home with a strong interest in culture. Encouraged by her parents, she studied no fewer than five languages: Romanian, Russian, French, German, and Hebrew. In the summer of 1940, her parents sent her to Palestine to visit her sister, who had made aliyah several years earlier, and she has lived in the country ever since. Her parents remained in Romania and died in the Holocaust.  Until 1946, she studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Faculty of the Humanities. In Tel Aviv, she met Wim Van Leer, who at the time was serving as a pilot in the Machal framework for overseas volunteers. Wim Van Leer also served as director of the Chimavir company and was an ardent film lover. The couple married in 1952 and moved to Haifa, where the idea of establishing film clubs in Israel was born. They traveled widely, viewed countless films, and became familiar with the world of the cinema. There were no art cinemas in Israel at the time, and the couple began to purchase 16 millimeter copies of quality films and screen them to friends at their home on Mt. Carmel. As the demand for art films grew, the couple established the Good Film Club in Haifa in 1955, which had some 250 members and screened art films once every two weeks. In 1956, she founded additional clubs in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Over the years, the couple continued to purchase films and in 1960 they founded the Israel Film Archive, which was later admitted to FIAF – the International Federation of Film Archives. In 1973, she founded the Haifa Cinematheque, and later the same year the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Cinematheques opened. In 1974, after moving home many times, the couple settled in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Cinematheque soon became a dynamic center for film lovers. In 1981 the Cinematheque and the archive moved to a new building in Gei Ben Hinnom, immediately gaining recognition as the most beautiful art cinema in the world. In 1984, she founded the International Film Festival at the Cinematheque, which has since become the most important and prestigious event on the Israeli cinema calendar. The festival offers viewers a chance to see some of the best new films produced around the world each year. The films include works from outside the mainstream of cinema production, including avant-garde works, documentaries, restored classics, animations, and epic retrospectives of leading artists. The festival plays a particularly important role in showcasing films that are not distributed through the usual commercial channels and serves as a cultural bridge of peace with countries around the world. In 1988, for example, she managed to bring a large delegation of producers, directors, and actors from Russia to the festival. The Jerusalem Cinematheque and its founder are well known around the world. Researchers from many countries draw on the materials held in the archive; famous figures from the world of film visit the site; and Israeli works enjoy exposure to an international audience.

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 leaders to serve 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, museums, 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.