In a festive ceremony filled with music, Torah and song, the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary ordained its rabbi, marking 30 years of ordaining Conservative/Masorti rabbis in Israel. The moving ceremony was held December 12, 2019 at Kehillat Moreshet Avraham in Jerusalem. Following three years of training, these three new rabbis, David Arias, Yos Baruch Fromer and Matan Stein, join the leadership of the Masorti Movement, bringing the number of rabbis ordained by the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary to 101!
Rabbi David Arias was born in Santiago, Chile to a traditional Jewish family. He studied at the Chaim Weizmann Hebrew School, was active in the NOAM Masorti youth movement and subsequently worked for it in leadership positions. David made aliyah in 2014, served in the IDF and subsequently began studying at Schechter. Since August 2019, he has been serving as the rabbi of Kehillat Moriah in Haifa, the first Masorti kehilla in Israel. Rabbi Arias decided to become a rabbi “in order to help people get into touch with Judaism and to strengthen them in this path. I want to be someone who opens doors do that people can take responsibility for their own Jewish life.”
Rabbi Yosef (Yos) Baruch Fromer was born in Haifa to a family with Greek roots. Following his military service, he earned a B.Sc. in Computer Science and an M.A. in Philosophy from Haifa University as well as an MBA from the Technion. He established a hi-tech company of which he was the CEO for ten years. Yos was one of the leaders of the Social Justice Protest Movement in Northern Israel in 2011-12, which involved both Jews and Arabs. In 2012, he attended a conference on the banks of the Kinneret, where he met rabbinical students from Israel and overseas. This encounter made him realize that his social activism was rooted in his Jewish identity. Rabbi Baruch Fromer lives in Tel Aviv and is establishing an egalitarian Sephardic minyan there. He believes that “Israel is thirsty for comfort and healing. Masorti Judaism can provide Israel with spiritual healing based on a long tradition of concern for the needy and the other and love for all human beings.”
Rabbi Matan Stein was born in Jerusalem and raised in Ofra, a religious Zionist community in the West Bank. He holds a B.A. in general linguistics and Egyptology and an M.A. in Egyptology from the Hebrew University as well as an M.A. from the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. Rabbi Stein works as an editor, translator and teacher of Jewish languages, particularly teaching Ladino in various venues throughout Israel, including the Schechter’s adult education program. Rabbi Stein hopes he “will continue to have the possibility to integrate a life of Torah with a universal spiritual outlook. ‘These and these are the words of the living God’ (Eruvin 13b) that I wish to bring to the world.”
Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, Rabbi Avi Novis-Deutsch, is thrilled for these three new rabbis will be serving the Israeli people: “Israel needs leaders who can bridge gaps, who can listen to the various voices and allow anguish to be heard so that mending can take place. A true rabbi allows people to find their voice, strength and ability. A rabbi must encourage dialogue and listening, connect people to the Torah in all of its seventy facets, and guide people to prayer that breaks down walls and unites hearts. This is what our rabbis have been doing for over thirty years.”
Rabbi Novis-Deutsch believes that Israel is at a key moment of growth for Masorti Judaism: “According to recent surveys, the percentage of Israelis defining themselves as Conservative Jews has tripled in recent years and the number of Israelis attending egalitarian synagogues is five times what it used to be. The number of Conservative synagogues has grown and we now have some eighty kehillot throughout Israel. These 101 Masorti rabbis, men and women, assist an increasing number of Israelis to take another step along the long road to their Judaism. They come from a place that respects a person’s free choice and value system. Our rabbis serve tens of thousands of Israelis for various life cycle events. We feel that pluralistic Judaism in Israel is blossoming.”
We wish Rabbis Arias, Baruch Fromer and Stein mazal tov as they embark on their rabbinic paths.