Sep 7, 2016

Rabbis Dan Levin and Josh Broide Learning Together in Prestigious 3-year Shalom Hartman Program

From the Reform and Orthodox traditions, two South Palm Beach County rabbis are now well into their first year of Shalom Hartman Institute’s sixth Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI). Following a rigorous selection process by the Institute, Dan Levin, Senior Rabbi at (Reform) Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, and Rabbi Josh Broide, a practicing Orthodox Rabbi who serves as Director of Community Engagement at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, were selected to begin this prestigious, three-year intensive fellowship program this past summer.

Since then, as they will for the next three years, Levin and Broide have been among the 28 sixth cohort RLI rabbis from around the country, engaging in extensive distance learning through video webinars, study, small group elective courses, and local projects, as well as in yearly summer and winter residencies at the Institute in Jerusalem. The main pillars of their learning are Judaism and Modernity, Religious Pluralism, Jewish and Democratic Israel, Jewish Peoplehood, and Judaism and the World.

RLI brings together outstanding North American rabbis to immerse them in the highest levels of Jewish learning and equip them to meet contemporary challenges with increasing intellectual and moral sophistication.

Levin and Broide, with their cohort, are exploring “the multiple voices within our Jewish tradition that can help them find personal meaning and purpose for their unique rabbinic journeys,” said Miami-based Rabbi Berkun, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America Director of Rabbinic and Synagogue Programs. “The Institute provides an open space of pluralistic inquiry and intellectual risk-taking for rabbis to ask burning questions about their own spiritual and intellectual lives, as well as their communal leadership.”

Rabbinic leadership has been a core mission of Shalom Hartman for more than 30 years. But unique to the Boca Raton-based Broide and Levin is their entering the fellowship in a local learning partnership as Orthodox and Reform rabbis.

“RLI has been extraordinarily inspiring,” said Rabbi Levin. “In the Talmud, one argument is concluded with an amazing sentiment: ‘These words and those words are the words of the living God.’ The Hartman Institute seeks not simply for us to realize the holy wisdom in our texts, but also in the diversity of voices that make up the Jewish people. I am so inspired and blessed to learn with some of the most compelling and thoughtful scholars of our generation. And to study Torah for hours with an incredible cadre of colleagues from across the spectrum of Jewish belief yields a profound depth of understanding.”

Rabbi Broide shared his colleague’s kudos for their times in Israel together so far. “With some of the greatest rabbinic and scholarly Jewish minds, and my first significant time studying with rabbis from other denominations, the summer and winter institutes have been one of the most profound experiences in my life and possibly my greatest Jewish learning experience,” he said. “Our days began at 7:00 am and ended around 10:00 pm six days a week, but if felt like every lesson and program was so exciting that time flew by. Alongside learning from the rabbis, professors and colleagues, I learned more about myself – and how I can have a greater impact on our community through our Federation’s Deborah and Larry D. Silver Center for Jewish Engagement (CJE) - because it is the diversity of our community that will ultimately make us so much stronger.”

Rabbis Broide and Levin both stated how much they look forward to studying together over the three years ahead, and to sharing what they learn with the community. “At Temple Beth El, we held a Lunch and Learn program was devoted to whetting our congregation and community's appetite for what the Shalom Hartman Institute has to offer,” said Rabbi Levin.

Both rabbis are extremely grateful to an anonymous, generous local donor who understood the importance of their joining the RLI, and to the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County for facilitating their participation. They also credit another local rabbi with extensive RLI experience for inspiring them to apply.

“I am quite happy that my colleagues Rabbi Broide and Rabbi Levin are participating in RLI, said Rabbi David Steinhardt, Senior Rabbi of (Conservative) B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton. “I have been involved at Shalom Hartman for ten years and have hoped to see more local rabbis engage with the scholars and rabbis there. Since my three years in the second RLI cohort from 2004-2007, I have continued to return as a Rabbinic Fellow in the summers.”

Another past RLI cohort participant echoed its immense value. “RLI was one of the most significant experiences of my professional life,” said Rabbi Jessica Brockman, also of Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, who was part of the third cohort in 2007-2010. “As a female Reform rabbi, to study in-depth with fellow Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox rabbis was a unique opportunity, including the uninterrupted summer and winter immersions in text study in Israel. This program improved my text skills incredibly, but even more allowed me to use the lessons learned and the Institute’s grand thinking to create a better Jewish world of dialogue, understanding and study, and bring that back to my role at Temple Beth El.”

“We live in a world where so much of our understanding and processing of information and knowledge is done in simple or very black and white terms,” said Rabbi Steinhardt. “The Shalom Hartman scholars reflect the breadth of Jewish scholarship and contemporary Israeli thought, presenting deep and nuanced ways of looking at the issues facing the Jewish people, Israel and the world. Creative and compassionate, open, passionate and aspirational, they reflect the best of rabbinic thinking.”

About RLI

RLI is one of the few structured frameworks for ongoing rabbinic study, enrichment, and intellectual leadership training. In addition to rigorous study, the program fosters a deep sense of community for diverse rabbis in an environment of open dialogue, collaboration, peer-learning, and personal support.

The pluralistic framework of the program fosters a vibrant exchange of ideas aimed at integrating learning into rabbis’ ongoing work and creating a multidenominational community of colleagues uniquely able to elevate the quality of Jewish life.

The objective of the initiative is to significantly impact the quality of contemporary Jewish life in North America by training exceptional rabbis of all denominations to serve as profound spiritual and intellectual leaders. Through the study of texts and ideas with renowned SHI scholars and with their own rabbinic colleagues, participants gain a better understanding of the central political, moral, and spiritual issues facing North American Jewry and the modern state of Israel, enabling the rabbis to serve as bridges between Israel and the Diaspora.

Rabbis who complete the three-year course of study with the RLI program receive the title Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Equipped with a new array of texts, and a values-based methodology for applying traditional text to contemporary challenges, RLI rabbis are able to preach, write, teach, and lead with greater sophistication and depth. Fellows share that they feel empowered to take new risks, innovate new program models, institute new creative forms of prayer and ritual, and make Torah learning a more central component of their community.

Since its inception in 2001, RLI has produced five cohorts with a community of more than 120 rabbinic alumni. The fifth cohort celebrated its graduation on July 12, 2016, at the Hartman Institute’s Jerusalem campus.

For more information about the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative, please contact Rabbi Lauren Berkun, Director of Rabbinic and Synagogue Programs, at lauren@shalomhartman.org or 305.407.5494.

About Shalom Hartman Institute

The Shalom Hartman Institute is a pluralistic center of research and education deepening and elevating the quality of Jewish life in Israel and around the world. Through our work, we are redefining the conversation about Judaism in modernity, religious pluralism, Israeli democracy, Israel and world Jewry, and the relationship with other faith communities. For more information about Shalom Hartman Institute, contact Laura Gilinski, Chief Development and Public Relations Officer, laura.gilinski@shi.org.il, +972.54.435.3550.