יום חמישי 16 נובמבר 2017
Four New Israeli Reform Rabbis!
On Thursday, November 16th four new Israeli Reform Rabbis were ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's (HUC-JIR). This brings the total Israel Rabbis ordained at HUC to over 100!
We invite you to get to know our newest Rabbis, from left to right: Yair (Yeye) Tobias, Leora Ezrachi Vered, Rinat Safania-Shwartz, and David Laor.
Photo: Netanel Tobias
Leora Ezrachi Vered
Leora was born in Jerusalem and throughout her life she connects between traditions and worlds. On her mother’s side, Leora is heir to a legacy of American Judaism, Zionism, the Jewish tradition; promoting the values of activism, equality and love of fellow humans. On her father’s side, her family is deeply connected to the establishment of the State of Israel from the Second Aliya to extensive social and community involvement today.
Leora grew up in a Reform home in a family where the Sabbath table was the center of their week. There Jews and non-Jews from all over the world came together to meet, talk, to argue and celebrate the holiness of Shabbat.
Leora was educated and shaped by a variety of settings of the Reform Movement in Israel: She was raised to pray under the guidance of her uncle, Rabbi Levi Weiman Kelman (founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Haneshama) and her mother, Rabbi Naamah Kelman. She was in the first class of the first Reform affiliated Tali School and was active in the Reform youth movement. From these places she made her way into a world of Reform work and leadership.
From an early age, Leora led Tefillah and felt at home in the synagogue. As a prayer leader, she found the ways to connect between worlds: between different traditions of prayer, between new and old, between traditional prayer and contemporary Israeli music. She has learned to combine modern Hebrew poetry and melody creating the space for comfort and ease for those less experienced in prayer.
After a year of pre- Army service at the youth village of "Einot" Leora served as an officer in the Education Corps of the IDF. She returned to the educational activity in the pre-military preparatory program for the leadership of the Reform movement (Mechinat Telem). She worked as a counselor, teacher, volunteer coordinator and finally as the Director. She then returned to her most significant religious home, the Reform Youth Movement (Noar Telem), and was privileged to lead the youth movement and the summer camp. There she helped establish the “Hamula” group for children with special needs.
Leora completed a BA and MA in Jewish History and wrote a Master’s thesis on “Neurim” the (Liberal Synagogue of Odessa in the 19th century.
Leora feels privileged to have been able to study and teach, to lead prayers and lifecycle events with Israelis and Jews living overseas.
Leora is now serving as the Rabbi of “Nigun Halev” in the Jezrael Valley, non-denominational part of the Israeli Jewish Renaissance community that connects Jewish tradition and Israeli culture.
In the army she got to know her soul mate, her husband Amit and together they are the parents of three sweet sons: Eitan, Dan and Ari.
Yair (Yeye) Tobias
Yair was born on Kibbutz Yahel in the Arava and studied at Ma’ale Shacharut School at Yotvata. He grew up in various frameworks and programs of the Reform movement: the youth movement Noar Telem; the EIE exchange program, in which he spent six months at BJBE Congregation in Chicago; and Kutz summer camp. He participated in the second year of young group to attend the Mechina for Progressive Jewish Leadership in Jaffa. During his military service he served as a combat soldier and medic in the Nachal. At the same time, he studied in the Ofakim program at Tel Aviv University, a teacher training program for outstanding students who go on to teach Judaism as culture in state schools. Yair completed a bachelor’s degree in Jewish Philosophy and Bible under the auspices of this program.
During his studies, Yair established the Beit Midrash Baderech program, together with partners from Kibbutz Yahel and the Reform movement. This pioneering program for young people combines the experience of kibbutz life, work in agriculture and industry, and life in a young community with spiritual experience and study in a Beit Midrash format. After completing his studies, Yair returned to Kibbutz Yahel and began to run the study program in Jewish Thought, Israeli culture, and Bible at the regional school. In the same year, Yair founded Amali - a forum of programs that promote study combined with employment in prioritized jobs among young people who have just completed their military service.
During his rabbinical studies Yair was active in developing educational and teaching programs for young adults: Mechina students, Shnat Sherut participants, post-army programs, students, and young adults beginning their careers. He taught in the Reform movement’s Jerusalem Mechina and at the Secular Yeshiva in Ein Kerem. Over the years he taught classes in Jewish thought, philosophy, Israeli society, prayer, Talmud, and the Jewish library. Yair was particularly active in the fields of relationships and preparing for marriage, Reform Jewish identity in Israel, and the philosophy of Jewish law, custom, and ceremony. He completed a Master’s degree at the Schechter Institute in Jewish Philosophy and Talmud and Halacha.
At the beginning of this year Yair moved to the Golan Heights and began to work in the integrated religious-secular seminary at Natur. This open Beit Midrash program features studies in Jewish thought and Hebrew literature over a 15-month period. The participants return to the program for six months after completing two years of military service. Yair teaches philosophy and literature, the philosophy of law, Jewish humanism, and Mishna in the program. He is also currently establishing a regional community project for the Reform movement in the Jordan Valley.
Yair is 31 and married to Mor Sagi. The couple live in Kfar Haruv where they are raising their daughter Be’eri Miriam and looking forward to the arrival of another daughter.
David was born and grew up in Mexico. He attended Colegio Sefardi School and he and his family were members of the Conservative congregation, Beth Israel, in Mexico city. While he was a university student, David was actively involved in the creation and development of a new congregation in the city of Veracruz, working with a group of “Anusim” Jews who eventually converted to Judaism and founded Beth Shmuel Community Center. The fascinating story of these Anusim was later made into an award-winning film "Ocho Candelas" (Eight Candles) by Sandro Halphen.
Soon after obtaining his Bachelor degree in Information Science Engineering in 1990, David made aliyah and worked in the world of IT and computers for ten years. In 2002, during a relocation project, he returned to Mexico, to the city of Cancun, and became head of the Jewish studies center and synagogue at Neve Shalom's Conservative congregation, working as the religious leader for Judaism courses and religious services.
In 2007, David returned to Israel and searched for a more spiritual life. In 2011, David began his Rabbinical studies at the HUC in Jerusalem, and in 2016 he completed his Master's degree in American Jewry at Haifa University's Ruderman's Program.
Taking advantage of his IT skills, David created a web site in 2011 which, since then, he uses to teach Judaism using video in Spanish. He also developed several internet tools for Bar Miztva studies. David is the author of a book in Spanish: "Todo lo que quiso saber sobre Judaismo y no se atrevio a preguntar" (Everything you wanted to know about Judaism but were afraid to ask) that teaches basic knowledge for everyone interested in learning about Judaism. Today, David is active at the Domim project of the Reform Movement in Israel, and provides support to Jewish Reform communities in Latin America. In Israel, David assists in the communities of Yozma in Modiin and Darchei Noam in Ramat Hasharon with courses and preparations for Bar Mitzva celebrations.
David believes there is an enormous potential in Latin America, given the huge number of Bnei Anusim, and has dedicated much of his efforts to assist anyone interested in returning to our faith, our traditions and to Israel as well. David in his mission, is inspired by Amos the prophet that states: "“Behold, the days come,” saith the Lord God, “that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." Amos 8,11.
David is the father of Meytal, Liel and Noa
Photo: Netanel Tobias
Rinat Safania Schwartz is married to Liron and the mother of five-year-old Ariel. She was born in Jerusalem and lives on Kibbutz Naan. She holds a BA in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Educational Counseling and a second Master’s degree in Pluralistic Jewish Education, Midrash and Legend. Her Master’s thesis was devoted to Midrashic responses to the infertility of women.
Today, she is an educational consultant at a vocational high school - Second Chance - for students who are not able to continue in the established school system. She is also a group facilitator for regional Bet Midrash programs serving a diverse population.
Rinat is the seventh child of the Safania family. She grew up in a household where each person chose their own path of Judaism to follow and wherein each chose something different. (Three brothers are Orthodox, some are Ultra- Orthodox and one brother is an orthodox Rabbi.(
She was educated in the youth program of the Reform Movement in Israel eventually becoming the director of the Youth movement. Rinat has written and implemented Jewish education programs throughout Israel and abroad and was part of the Diller Fellows program between Tel Aviv and Los Angeles.
Currently, Rinat is a student (fourth year) in the Israeli Rabbinical Program of HUC-JIR, a member of Women of the Wall, and the student rabbi of the emerging Reform community in Shoham.
Rinat notes: My vision is “Judaism in slippers” - a dream that every Israeli and every Jew throughout the world will feel that they have ownership of their Jewish identity and in doing so they have a responsibility for shaping the Jewish character of their lives and their community.