On January 13, 2013/ 2 Shevat, 5773, near Boulder, Colorado, on the Sunday afternoon inaugurating the annual conference of OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis, Cantors and Rabbinic Pastors for Renewal, the ALEPH Ordination Program welcomed two new rabbis, three rabbinic pastors and one hazzan into the lineage of ordained Jewish Renewal leaders. Family, friends and other guests swelled attendance at the OHALAH conference for the moving and inspiring ordination ceremony.
The ordination each year blends the ancient tradition of awarding smicha (ordination) through the “laying on of hands,” with the ritual creativity of the students who design the surrounding ceremony. As the music and chant begins, the core faculty and Directors of Studies (the VAAD) of the Ordination Program processes into room. All stand to honor the beloved teachers who guide our growing seminary-without-walls, which embraces students from throughout the US, Canada and Europe.
The founder of the seminary and inspirational guide of Jewish Renewal, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi greeted the procession, led by the Director and Dean of the Ordination Programs: Rabbi Marcia Prager, the Associate Dean and ALEPH’s Director of Spiritual Resources, Rabbi Daniel Siegel, followed by the Director of the Cantorial Program Hazzan Jack Kessler, the Director of the Rabbinic Pastor Program R’P’ Shulamit Fagan, and Rabbi Shohama Weiner, Rosh Hashpa’ah and Director of the Spiritual Direction Program. The procession of teachers was complete when the other members of the VAAD entered. Processing at that time were Rabbis Leila Gal Berner, Elliot Ginsburg, Victor Gross, Shawn Israel Zevit and and Steve Silvern, with Rabbis Sami Barth, Shaya Isenberg and Laura Duhan Kaplan not able to join the processional at that time, but very present in the hearts and minds of all who gathered.
The ordinees this year are:
Rabbi Elyse Seidner-Joseph
Rabbi Hannah Ableman Laner
Rabbinic Pastor Patrice Spitz
Rabbinic Pastor Larissa Blechman
Rabbinic Pastor Sandra Wortzel
Hazzan Shulamit Wise Fairman
Some of the musmachim remarked on thier path. Hazzan Shulamit Wise FAriman said, “As a student in the ALEPH Cantorial program for the last four years, my life, and my life-work have been immeasurably enriched by the progressive, creative, depth-centric leaders and teachers in the Renewal movement and beyond, and by an exquisitely diverse and passionate cadre of student-colleagues.”
Rabbinic Pastor Larissa Blechman remarked, “In 2006, I met the Aleph Jewish Renewal Seminary Va’ad members when I was in mishpacha group with them at Elat Chayyim, and I learned what work and what ordination program had been calling me. Aleph’s Rabbinic Pastor program! I entered the Rabbinic Pastor ordination program in 2007 and began the formal educational path that would nurture the special and holy healer, soul accompanier and ritualist role that Aleph has created for those who are drawn to deep pastoral work. I’m blessed to be able to continue my counseling and meditation work in this way.”
And Rabbi Hannah Ableman Laner gave eternal gratitude “for the great love, wellspring of teaching, and phenomenal mentoring that I have received from Reb Zalman, and the depth of knowledge and spirit that all of my teachers, mentors, and members of the Vaad have shared and for the amazing support of my wonderful family, friends, and colleagues in our program. I have been greatly blessed by HaShem, and I pray that my rabbinic path will bring many blessings, and that I will be able to reach out and touch the hearts and souls of many.”
We also were delighted to welcome Rabbi Kevin Hale, a skilled sofer/Torah scribe, and graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, into the legacy of those ordained through ALEPH and Reb Zalman. In a special ceremony earlier that day he stood with Reb Zalman, other ALEPH teachers and the Ordination Program VAAD to receive a well-earned second smicha. His inspirational words of greeting on Sunday set the stage for the ALEPH Ordination Program Ceremony
Yashar koach to each of ALEPH’s new musmachim.
May your journey forward unfold with grace and abundant blessing.