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Installation of Rabbi Ari Hart

Press Release, October 24, 2017 The Board of Directors of Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue is delighted to announce that Rabbi Ari Hart will be formally installed as its full-time rabbi at a free, community wide event on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 8:30 pm. “We are proud to be realizing our vision of a big-tent, inclusive, Orthodox synagogue with Rav Ari’s spiritual leadership, ” said David Rubin, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob is a historic, thriving Modern Orthodox, founded in 1956. “This is an amazing synagogue, with a rich legacy, talented and passionate lay leadership, a spirit of openness and inclusion, and a can-do attitude. Joining the team here is a tremendous opportunity and I am so grateful to the board for this opportunity,” said Rabbi Hart.

Rabbi Hart grew up and lived in Evanston and Chicago before moving to New York ten years ago. “I am thrilled to be bringing the knowledge and experiences I’ve gained back to where I’m from. I dreamed about coming back here to serve as a rabbi, and I feel so blessed to have that dream come true,” said Rabbi Hart.

Rabbi Hart’s previous rabbinic work has brought him everywhere from Yale University Hillel to Rikers Island in New York to the shores of Lesvos, Greece responding to the Syrian refugee crisis. An activist rabbi, Rabbi Hart has led multiple efforts to increase awareness of justice issues in the orthodox community, including advocating for immigrant workers in the kosher industry and fighting for victims of sexual abuse. He previously served as the associate rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, where he focused on community outreach and creating a welcoming environment for all people within an Orthodox synagogue.

As a thought leader, he has contributed to leading secular and religious publications, including the Jerusalem Post, Ha’Aretz, The Hill, Patheos, NY Daily News, The Jewish Daily Forward,and more. Rav Ari recently was selected by The Jewish Week as one of the 36 "forward-thinking young people who are helping to remake the Jewish community." He is also a founder of Uri L'Tzedek: Orthodox Social Justice and co-founder of the Jewish Muslim Volunteer Alliance. Rabbi Hart received smicha (rabbinic ordination) from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York City in 2012.

Since joining Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob in July, Rabbi Hart and the synagogue have already launched several innovative programs and initiatives, such as welcoming 7 different prayer services into the building over the High Holidays, including free, 1 hour afternoon High Holiday Services in English, a partnership with Mothers Against Senseless Killing to combat gun violence in Chicago, an anti-hate vigil in response to Nazi rallies in Charlottesville, that drew over 350 community residents, prayer concerts, and more. Membership has grown by 20% to over 200 households since July.

"We are blessed to have Rav Ari as our rabbi. He will be transformative for our community. Fundamentally, his arrival reflects our work over the past few years of revitalizing an inclusive, welcoming, and outward looking community firmly rooted in Jewish observance centered in halakha. This has been the ethos of Skokie Valley since its founding over sixty five years ago and one which Rav Ari will help us take forward into the future,” said Mr. Rubin.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, founding president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and rabbi-in-residence of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, will speak at the event, which will include a festive dessert reception and is open to the entire community.

Mon, June 18 2018 5 Tammuz 5778