Published On: Wed, Sep 21st, 2016

Two Boca Raton Rabbis Join Prestigious Three-Year Sixth Rabbinic Leadership Initiative Cohort in Jerusalem


From the Reform and Orthodox traditions, two South Palm Beach County rabbis have returned from their first summer residency in Jerusalem as part 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 delighted to begin this prestigious, three-year intensive fellowship program.

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. (southeast Florida regional participants from all cohorts listed below)

For the next three years, Levin and Broide will be among the 28 sixth cohort RLI rabbis from around the country who will engage 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 will be Judaism and Modernity, Religious Pluralism, Jewish and Democratic Israel, Jewish Peoplehood, and Judaism and the World.

Levin and Broide will explore “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 on returning from the summer institute in Jerusalem. “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 summer month together. “With some of the greatest rabbinic and scholarly Jewish minds, and my first significant time studying with rabbis from other denominations, the summer institute has 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, the September Lunch and Learn program will be 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.”

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