Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Ordains Three New Rabbis in Israel
Ordination affirms the vitality of growing Reform Movement in Israel bolstering communities in need throughout the country.
November 21, 2023
Haifa—Three new rabbis for Israel’s Reform Movement were ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) at the Ordination and Academic Convocation for the Israel Rabbinical Program. With their ordination, there are now a total of 129 Israeli Reform rabbis ordained to serve 54 Reform/Progressive congregations, schools, and communities throughout Israel.
The ordination ceremony for these three new rabbis–Lana Zilberman Soloway, Miriam Klimova, and Yael Katz Ben Yitzhak—represented a note of both optimism and determination during these very demanding times. These new rabbis will draw upon the wisdom of the Jewish tradition to serve Jews during a period of war and civil unrest in Israel, while sharing the Reform Movement’s emphasis on tradition, social justice, and equality.
Rabbi Lana Zilberman Soloway, who was born in Moscow and came to Israel as a young child, is a member of the clergy team at Congregation Or Ami in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Miriam Klimova, who was born in Ukraine, works at Shirat ha-Yam Carmel Congregation in Haifa, and has a special interest in supporting the needs of Russian-language converts to Judaism in Israel.
Rabbi Yael Katz Ben Yitzhak, a native Israeli, is Head of Congregational, Youth, Young Adult and Educational Activities at the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, and continues to support the Reform congregation in Megiddo, which she established.
“Being a rabbi in the best of times is challenging,” said President Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D. “Today, faced with the unrelenting sorrow, loss, and uncertainty following the October 7th attacks, embarking on such sacred service may seem like an insurmountable challenge. And yet you, and the distinguished community of 126 Israeli Reform rabbis ordained by HUC [to date] that you now join, have shown us just how to meet this moment. Guided by your teachers at HUC’s Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem, to be beacons of pluralism and shared society, enriched by the values of progressive, Reform Judaism, grounded in a respecting for the autonomy and equality of every individual and valuing our tradition not merely for its own sake, but to build a decent world for all.”
“Dear students, we came here today with heavy hearts; but we will leave here with full hearts: hearts full of love, gratitude, and hope — hope because we recognize the value of three new rabbis ordained from Hebrew Union College,” said Rabbi Andrea Weiss, Ph.D., Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost; Associate Professor of Bible. We are confident that, in the words of Isaiah, ‘your light will shine forth in the darkness'” (58:10).
Rabbi Talia Avnon-Benveniste ‘09, Director of the Israel Rabbinical Program HUC-JIR/Jerusalem said: “The three remarkable women that we are ordaining are links in a chain that started at Mount Sinai and continue to this day. Together, they will shape the path of the Reform Movement in Israel and bring all their full selves to lead Israeli society at this difficult time. They will offer ways for Israeli society to seek out Judaism that is unfamiliar and new.”
Rabbi Lana Zilberman Soloway was born in Moscow and made Aliyah with her parents to Israel at the age of eight. She grew up in Netanya and served in the Intelligence Unit of the Southern Command in Beer Sheva and then in the Gaza Strip. She holds a BA in East Asian culture from the Hebrew University, BMus in piano performance and voice from the Jerusalem Music Academy, MA in professional Jewish studies from the Spertus Institute in Chicago, rabbinic ordination from the Shalom Hartman Institute and now also rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College.
In the last twenty years Rabbi Zilberman Soloway has been working in the field of informal Jewish education, as a tour educator and guide, group leader, lecturer, and facilitator, in Israel, Europe, and the US, and has a special interest in interfaith dialogue and peacemaking initiatives.
In her role as a rabbi, she served as the director of shared society programs at Machon Merchavim and as director of community outreach and educational projects at Rabbis for Human Rights. In August 2023, Rabbi Zilberman Soloway joined the clergy team at Congregation Or Ami in Los Angeles, US, where she currently lives with her husband and their three children.
Rabbi Yael Katz Ben Yitzhak was born in Haifa to a secular Israeli family and grew up in Kiriat Tivon. She embarked on her Jewish journey at the Ma`alot Tivon Reform Congregation and prior to her army service, she volunteered at Beit Daniel in Tel Aviv. She completed a BSW in community social work and a MA in community and nonprofit management, both at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and is a certified organizational consultant, mentor, and teacher.
She has worked for a broad array of Jewish educational organizations, including the Melitz Center for Jewish Education, Gesher, Leo Baeck Education Center, the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism’s department, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and at Hamidrasha in Oranim. She also has a special interest in older adults—she is the former CEO of the Gilor Center, and her rabbinical thesis deals with the spiritual development and personal and community opportunities for those ages 55-70. Her goal is to develop this field in Israeli congregations and in other settings.
Rabbi Katz Ben Yitzhak is currently the Head of Congregational, Youth, Young Adult and Educational Activities at the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, and continues to support the Reform congregation in Megiddo, which she established and where she lives with her husband and her four children.
Rabbi Miriam Klimova was born in the city of Lviv in western Ukraine. She grew up in a Reform community, was a soloist in the community’s children’s band, and participated in informal Jewish education projects as an apprentice and teacher in Ukraine and Poland.
In 2011, she was accepted into the Machon. a program that trained community leaders for progressive Judaism, based in Moscow, which included Jewish studies at the Le-Dor va-Dor Congregation and at the Russian National Humanitarian University. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Hebrew Studies from the Higher School of Hebrew Studies in Torun, Poland, and a Master’s Degree in Hebrew and Jewish Studies from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. After completing a training program for prayer leaders at the Reform Congregation Beit Warszawa, she served as a prayer leader (shlichat tzibbur) and as a teacher of Judaism and Hebrew language in Reform communities in Poland.
In 2018 Rabbi Klimova made Aliyah to Israel and began her studies at Hebrew Union College. Since 2020, she has been working as a student rabbi at Shirat ha-Yam Carmel congregation in Haifa. There, she leads a conversion course for Russian speakers, volunteers to support the absorption of immigrants in Haifa, and leads classes, holidays, and cultural events for Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking new immigrants. Rabbi Klimova wrote her rabbinic thesis on the conversion of Russian-speakers in Israel to Judaism, with the goal of encouraging their continued learning and strengthening their sense of belonging to the Jewish community after their conversion ceremony.