Israel's 100th Reform Rabbi Is about to Be Ordained!

November 13, 2017Kate Bigam Kaput

Exciting news! This week, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion will ordain the 100th Israeli Reform rabbi at the school's Rabbinical Ordination and Academic Convocation on November 16, 2017. The "Class of the 100th Israeli Reform Rabbi" includes the following individuals:

  • 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 Tefilah 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 b'nai mitzvah (bar/bat mitzvah) projects.
  • Rinat Safania-Shwartz holds a B.A. in psychology and two M.A.s -- one in educational counseling and another in 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 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.

Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., president of HUC-JIR, says of this historic class, 

"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.

Yasher koach (may you have strength) to all four ordinees in the Class of the 100th Israeli Reform Rabbi! 

If you'd like to watch the ordination ceremony online, join HUC-JIR's livestream. 

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