Chair, Israel Board of Advisors & Co-Chair, Board of Governors Israel Committee
How did you get connected to HUC-JIR?
I got connected to HUC-JIR when I was introduced by a friend who was an ordinee. She introduced me to Rabbi Naamah Kelman, the Dean of the Jerusalem Campus, and it wasn’t very difficult to persuade me to join the Board of Advisors at that time. Two or three years later I became closer to President Aaron Panken, Ph.D., z”l, who I really admired. He, with Dean Kelman, asked me to become the Chair of the Board of Advisors, and I was honored to accept his request. That was the additional step that made me as involved as I am today. I’m the only Israeli on the Board out of more than 50 Board of Governor members.
Why do you support HUC-JIR?
I feel very strongly about promoting progressive liberal Judaism in Israel. I think this is critical to the future of Israel, combining progressive and liberal ideas with our roots as Jews. HUC-JIR is a very important institution in the promotion and strengthening of Reform Judaism here in Israel, and it will only continue to become more important.
How does HUC-JIR make a difference in Israel?
HUC makes a difference in Israel by training, educating, and ordaining Reform rabbis in an Israeli program targeted for Israelis. We have already ordained 121 rabbis in Israel, which is the most significant way in which HUC is fulfilling its mission in Israel. All of HUC-JIR’s programs, such as RIKMA and Teacher’s Lounge contribute significantly to advancing pluralism and liberal ideas.
Why is a Reform Jewish presence important for Israel?
Israel today is the biggest and most important Jewish life center in the world. The future of the Reform world lies in Israel, which is a critical point that gives us extra motivation to strengthen HUC-JIR.
What are your hopes for the mutual responsibility binding Israel and North American Jewry?
HUC is in a unique and extraordinary position to strengthen the connection between North American Jewry and Israel. They both have strong common values and missions and HUC-JIR plays an important role in connecting them. We can only benefit from strengthening this connection.
How does the recent Ordination and Academic Convocation illustrate the success of HUC-JIR in Israel?
Even the ordination of a single rabbi in Israel is a reason for celebration. There were six rabbis ordained in the ceremony, and I really think that every additional rabbi and graduate of HUC-JIR is another building block, a foundation of the future of liberal Judaism in Israel. Each educator has an impact on many other people, so each ordinee or graduate will be spreading the ideas and values of liberal and progressive Judaism outward, which I think is something to celebrate.
How would you describe HUC-JIR in one word?
A tree, growing and blossoming up the future, strongly rooted and connected to the past and to the ground.