The Zacharias Frankel College celebrated its First Rabbinical Ordination

18 June 2017 / 24 Sivan 5777


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By Josh Weiner

The last weekend was exhilarating, but before the memories fade, I thought I would put some of them in words. 

Something special happened up on the stage last Sunday in the Jewish community centre in Berlin. Nine rabbis stood there in front of a woman, said words, and ten rabbis walked off the stage. Something magical happened, that nobody could ignore. That magical shift, the creation of a new rabbi in Berlin, rippled out through the audience, and nobody could doubt the significance of what had just taken place. The various speakers, rabbis and community leaders from around the world, remarked on different aspects of the magic: the first Masorti rabbi ordained in Europe since the Shoah, the first graduate of the new Zacharias Frankel College, the successful product of shared optimism between the German state, the global Conservative/Masorti movement, and Nitzan herself. 

The ripples moved backwards and forwards in time. The whole weekend leading up to the ordination was busy and excited. Rabbis Brad Artson and Cheryl Peretz gave classes at the college, colleagues from around the world met and exchanged ideas and experiences, jetlagged Brazilians and Californians bumped into each other on the streets of Berlin, current students at the college taught friends and guests, people switched between English, American, Hebrew, German and Spanish mid-sentence. The beautiful synagogue on Oranienburgerstrasse has witnessed many landmark events in the last century, some painful, some happy. But rarely has there been as much positive energy and excitement at the Shabbat services as there was this week, and the excitement spilled over to the delicious and loud Shabbat meals we shared there. 

What's next? Of course, Rabbi Nitzan will continue her path, creating and strengthening Jewish life in whatever community she finds herself in. Just as exciting are the effects of the ordination weekend on others. For current students, it gave a clearer vision of what the end-point actually looks like, and strengthened our motivation to reach it. Other young visitors started asking about the school, and hopefully many of the rabbinical guests will go back to their communities and suggest studying in Berlin to crazy congregants itching to become rabbis themselves. For Berliners, and especially open-minded traditional Jews in the city, the ordination was a moment of pride and inspiration that they will continue to hold for a long time to come. Yeshar koach to everyone involved!

 

Rabbi Professor Dr. Bradley S. Artson, Dean of the Zacharias Frankel College and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies
(Photo: Margrit Schmidt)

Presenter Rabbi Ruven Barkan, Vice Dean Rabbi Cheryl Peretz, Rabbi Gesa Ederberg and Dean Brad Artson wrap the Tallit around Nitzan Stein Kokin's shoulders.
(Photo: Margrit Schmidt)

Rabbi Gesa Ederberg, Director of Congregational Proficiency, welcomes the guests.
(Photo: Tobias Barniske)

Distinguished guests: Executive Director of Masorti Olami, Rabbi Mauricio Balter and Daniel Botmann, Executive Director of the Central Council of Jews in Germany
(Photo: Tobias Barniske)

Visiting Professors for Halakha, Rabbi Harvey Meirovich and Rabbi Joel Rembaum, read the Rabbi's Kaddish.
(Photo: Tobias Barniske)

The new Rabbi Nitzan Stein Kokin
(Photo: Tobias Barniske)

 

Press release 

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Press reviews

Deutschlandfunk: David Dambitsch

Jüdische Allgemeine

ARD Mediathek

Deutschlandfunk: Carsten Dippel

Berliner Morgenpost: Philipp Siebert

Jewish Journal: Ryan Torok

epd

evangelisch.de

KNA: Rocco Thiede

Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland: Grußwort des Geschäftsführers Daniel Botmann