The Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel

Meet Four New Masorti Rabbis:

A Generation of Passion & Purpose

Exciting and inspiring news!  The Masorti Movement is thrilled to welcome four new rabbis, just ordained by our partner, the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary.  These four passionate Israelis from diverse backgrounds–running the gamut from native-born to olim from Russia, Buenos Aires and Canada–bring a range of ideals, desires and perspectives that will immeasurably enrich their communities, the Movement and Israeli society.

Read their stories. In their own words, they tell of their paths to the rabbinate and to Masorti. They all give grateful thanks to their parents, to their teachers and for exceptional training they received at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary.

You’ll be energized and impressed by what they bring to the Movement. They are spiritual and practical, educators and lifelong learners. They embrace tradition and change. They are the future.

Rabbi Idit Mevorach Shaag

I grew up in a national religious family in Haifa. My mother’s parents came to Israel from the United States and my father’s parents, of blessed memory, immigrated to Israel from Yemen. I grew up with Zionism in my veins and with a great appreciation for the Torah, its study and its actualization in life. The combination of the traditions of the two houses in which my parents grew up yielded a rich variety of customs, but the common denominator was strong and rooted — strong halachic commitment, love of Torah and study, love of the land, importance of volunteering and giving tzedakah.

I studied at the Hammad institutions, from the elementary school in Haifa to the high school in Elkana. I also studied at Midreshet Lindbaum, the rigorous women’s religious school, and have a BA in politics and government from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. During my rabbinical studies I worked in the various communities of the Masorti Movement, No’am, the Moriah congregation in Haifa, and the Masorti kehillah in Kfar Vradim, Beit Midrash “Noga” in Be’er Sheva, Beit Midrash “Aravot” founded by the Sephardic Educational Center “Beth Prat” in Jerusalem and more.

Today I am the coordinator of activities at the Hadar Israel Institute and member of the Board of Trustees of the Aravot Beit Midrash. I thank my family who have provided me with the strongest elements of my identity, and that their home is the basis for who I am — their priorities are an inspiration to me. I also thank my teachers and community in rabbinical school and the women I became friends with through my training. This has given me a deep sense of solidarity with women and the role of women in Judaism.”

Rabbi Raanan Mallek

I was born in Canada to a family with a secular background that was influenced by various Jewish traditions, thanks to my grandfather and grandmother, Edward and Francis Mallek. I immigrated to Israel when I was 20 and the greatest influence on my desire to be a rabbi was my belief that religious leaders are required to turn religion from a force that encourages violence to one that builds peace.

To help Judaism see non-Jews from a halakhic perspective is my calling — as an agent of change in Israeli society. When civic equality is perceived as a religious imperative, Israel can address the challenge of balancing the ideals of equal rights and a Jewish state. My work to promote interfaith dialogue is at the forefront of this work because it allows the Abrahamic religions to know each other deeply. My greatest sense of success comes from watching participants from different backgrounds find similarities between their religion and those of others — and even celebrate the differences between them.

As a traditional Masorti rabbi, I will focus on local work as an educator and facilitator to bring about positive social change. I hope that I will have the patience and perseverance to carry out the work that entails continuing difficulties whenever violence arises. In ten years’ time, I hope that the interfaith dialogue will be perceived as equally important to that of diplomacy, and that all rabbis will be trained to effectively guide meetings celebrating the multiplicity of paths to one God.

Rabbi Irina Gritsevsky

First, I grew up in a Jewish home in the Soviet Union and absorbed love for the Jewish people and the values of mutual trust and respect, the thirst for knowledge and critical thinking. Second, I fell in love with an American Jew who helped me paint my Jewish identity in all the colors of the rainbow and to fall in love with open, inviting, inclusive and colorful Judaism in a world of commandments without coercion. And third, I have lived most of my life in Israel and I love the human touch I found here — the warmth that envelops my Judaism in a protective blanket…

While I do not prefer to be defined, I accept the human limitations of thinking that require definitions. And so, if forced, I define myself as a Russian-speaking, secular, believing and observant Jew. No matter how complicated the definition is, I found a home in the Israeli Masorti movement and I see its great strength in its ability to contain, accept and deal with this complexity.

The New Kehillah of Ramat Aviv and Rabbi Jeff Cymet and his family gave me and my family a warm and loving community. We all feel we belong and want to participate in this amazing enterprise where every voice is heard. As a rabbi I am embarking on a new and exciting journey in a rabbinate that does not pretend to make decisions for others and believes that there are different ways to reach union with God. I have a great desire to share the treasures I acquired during my studies and believe that the recipients will know how to use them wisely and lovingly.

Rabbi Yarden Jordan Raber

I grew up in a traditional Jewish home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A home in which Jewish customs and experience have always been central and vital. By my adolescence my Jewish identity was deeply rooted within me. This is why, throughout my life – even in times when doubts, questions and uncertainty – my Jewish identity has always stood solid. It was something you could always hold on to — as if it were my only certainty in the world.

This Jewish identity was certainly based on family stories that illustrated the historical connection between me and the Jewish people and shed light on certain customs that we preserved at home and on the values I absorbed in it. But I always felt that apart from all these things, there was something else, something deeper and meaningful that I did not yet know. In a sense, my Jewish identity seemed to be a kind of empty space that thousands of years of literary, halakhic, legal, philosophical and theological development had left in me. This void called out to me in a joyous voice and created a panic to refill it.

I knew then that it was time to embark on a journey of learning and experience that was deep and multifaceted; It was time to listen to the eternal cry that beats in the hearts of each of us: “Go to you,” go your own way. After several years of Jewish studies in various frameworks and activities in the communities in Buenos Aires, I immigrated to Israel, studied in various religious and academic institutions that spread across the wide range of contemporary Jewish streams, and even managed to teach in some of them. On the one hand, there was always a deep intellectual tendency toward the world of study.  On the other hand, I was drawn to the strong desire to be of help to those seeking their way within Jewish tradition and practice. This combination of intellect and spirit – seemingly dichotomous – signifies for me my attachment and the ways of personality to the rich world of tradition and Jewish texts.

As a rabbi, I feel the obligation to help each and every one find his voice and her personal voice within the totality of tradition, Jewish practices and sources. I feel the obligation to empower those who seek their way, to give them the tools so that they can take ownership of the Jewish tradition so that they can turn it into a way of life that aspires to meaning.