Sunday, June 04, 2000

A mission to help God 'repair the world' awaits

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Seventeen rabbis were ordained Saturday morning at Plum Street Temple at the annual Hebrew Union College graduation.

(Tony Jones photos)
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        HUC President Sheldon Zimmerman ordained the rabbis.

        Graduates were from several states and two other countries — Israel and Canada. HUC is the nation's oldest rabbinical seminary.

        Rabbis ordained at Hebrew Union serve in 20 countries and more than 900 congregations, almost all of them affiliated with Reform Judaism.

        Of Judaism's three major strands — Orthodox, Conservative and Reform — Reform is the most liberal.

        It is known for its aggressive outreach to Jews who have married outside the faith or fallen away for other reasons. Its focus is on making Judaism an enriching, useful part of real life and the practice of tikkun olam — helping God “repair the world.”

        One of the new rabbis is Canadian Erin Polansky, 25, a Montreal native and former member of Temple Sinai in Toronto.

"So many opportunities'
        “It means that I am entering a chain of tradition and responsibility — to my fellow Jews and the rest of humanity — to teach and exemplify and uphold the morals, ethics and sacred principles of Judaism,” Rabbi Polansky said later from her Clifton apartment, where friends and family had gathered for lunch.

        She had 40 guests at her ordination. Her parents, sister and grandparents came from Canada.

        The ordination completed a five-year rabbinical study, which follows a bachelor's degree. Rabbi Polansky just started a three-year program in Jewish law and ethics at Hebrew Union.

        She plans a career in public service.

        “There are so many opportunities,” she said. “With every new issue, there is a Jewish angle — genetic engineering, cloning. I hope to be in a position to help interpret, for the larger community, the Jewish opinion on issues.”
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        There were 16 other graduates. Their names and their immediate destinations are:

        Elissa Schwartz Ben-Naim, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles; Alexis Berk, Congregation Micah, Brentwood, Tenn.; Jonathan Blake, Temple Beth-El, Providence, R.I.; Laurie Cohen, Temple B'nai Chaim, Georgetown, Conn.

        Also: Holly Cohn, Congregation Kol Am of Ballwin, St. Louis; Lauren Cohn, Congregation Beth Tikva, Worthington, Ohio; Franklin DeWoskin, a St. Louis native; Joab Eichenberg-Eilon of Jerusalem, Israel.

        Also: Vered Harris, Congregation Beth Torah, Overland Park, Kan.; Shari Heinrich, Temple Shalom, Milwaukee; Alison Kobey, Temple Brith Kodesh, Rochester, N.Y.; Lori Macklis, resident chaplain at Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati.

        Also: Melinda Mersack, Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple of Cleveland, Beachwood, Ohio; Daniel J. Moskovitz, Temple Judea of Tarzana, Calif.; Bruce J. Pfeffer, resident chaplain at Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati; and Aaron Sherman, Temple Emanuel, Hyde Park, N.Y.


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