The AOP VAAD Honors Rabbinic Pastor Shulamit Fagan Upon Her Retirement

With gratitude and profound appreciation for our colleague, the AOP VAAD announces that our beloved Founding Director of the AOP Rabbinic Pastor Program, RP Shulamit Fagan, is stepping down from her service to the VAAD and AOP in this role. She will continue on as a valued member of our Hashpa’ah Faculty, as a Spiritual Director for individual students, and in her teaching roles.

Said Rabbinic Pastor Shulamit: 

“In 2001, I sat in Reb Marcia’s kitchen in preparation for going to Elat Chayyim where I would be ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor. My memory is that Reb Marcia said: ‘Reb Zalman and I have been talking, and we think it would be a good idea to have a RP program and we would like you to direct it.’

Here we are 18 years later. The program has ordained approximately 30 rabbinic pastors who represent ALEPH, Reb Zalman z”l and Jewish renewal in diverse and exceptional ways. Many work as chaplains in hospitals and hospices. Some serve in prisons and homeless shelters. Others lead havurot, teach meditation and chanting and play other important roles in their local communities. I am proud of each of them and grateful that I have played role in their life as director of this transformative program, teacher, mentor, colleague and friend.

It was Reb Zalman’s dream that we as Jewish leaders not all fill the same capacity. He believed that it was important to have specialties, positions where people could use their particular talents in service to the Jewish people. 

In recent months the RP program has made significant progress. There are numerous potential students, and the recent virtual open house were very successful. We remain, to the best of my knowledge, the only organization giving smicha to chaplain/pastors rather than a certificate.

Those eighteen years flew by. Now I find myself ready to hand over the direction of this program to someone else. It is time for me to retire from this role. I will continue to see many of you through my presence on the Hashpa’ah faculty and the various teaching that I am blessed to do. I will be teaching this year at our AOP ‘Smicha Week’ retreat and Ruach Ha’aretz, and look forward to seeing you all there.

With gratitude for all that we have grown together, and with hope that the program will continue its progression with ease and grace, I send blessings for all of us.”

We honor our beloved RP Shulamit for every aspect of her contribution to developing and furthering the goals of our ALEPH Ordination Program. We are grateful for her continued service to our program and send her our blessings as she discovers all the new ways in which she will serve God in this next phase of her life.