Rabbi Jonathan J. Bernhard Assumes Presidency of Board of Rabbis

The executive committee of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California passed its proverbial gavel April 23 to Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard, senior rabbi of Adat Ari El, who will lead the membership organization of more than 330 rabbis. Bernhard succeeded Rabbi Judith HaLevy, who concluded two years’ service as Board of Rabbis president.

"I am eager to continue the great work the Board of Rabbis has done in its 75 years," Bernhard said, "as well as forge new paths to better serve the rabbis and the broader community."

The Board of Rabbis continues to function under the auspices of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, as it has for more than 40 years.

"Our community has extraordinary rabbinic leadership," said Jay Sanderson, president and CEO of The Jewish Federation. "We are looking forward to seeing the Board of Rabbis, under the new lay leadership of Rabbi Bernhard, make an even greater impact on our Federation and our community. I look forward to working closely with him and the new Board."

HaLevy, senior rabbi at Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, celebrated the transition. “The prayer for counting the Omer uses the word netzah (eternity),” she said. “As long as we have Jews in this community, we know we will have the Board of Rabbis. May this be a long and healthy relationship.”

In November, the Board of Rabbis’ officers and Federation leadership established a task force, charged with initiating an evaluation of the scope, geographic reach and purpose of the rabbinic organization. The task force wrapped up its process in April and endorsed a new vision statement for the Board:

“Believing that the interests of the Jewish People are strengthened by a healthy rabbinate and the cooperation of the rabbis in the work of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California seeks to:

  • Promote and nurture the growth of rabbis on both spiritual and professional levels,
  • Foster a sense of Klal Yisrael among the different denominations, and
  • Serve as a resource for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles in its work to engage, care for and ensure the future of the Jewish People."

At the April 23 meeting, Past President Rabbi Denise Eger presented the following slate of officers from the nominating committee, representing a large spectrum of the Los Angeles Jewish community, to lead the Board of Rabbis during the next phase of its transition:

President:
Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard

Vice Presidents:
Rabbi Morley T. Feinstein
Rabbi Jason Weiner
Rabbi Amy Bernstein

Secretary:
Rabbi Sarah Hronsky

Treasurer:
Rabbi Kalman Topp

Immediate Past President:
Rabbi Judith HaLevy

Members at Large:
Rabbi Lynn Brody Slome
Rabbi Kenneth Chasen
Rabbi Denise L. Eger
Rabbi Nicole Guzik
Rabbi Jon Hanish
Rabbi Joshua Hoffman
Rabbi Zoë Klein
Rabbi Zachary Shapiro
Rabbi David Woznica  

The board will formally install these officers and members at large, at a future date.