Muslim-Born Lawyer to be Ordained as Rabbi
Unconventional Rabbinical Ordination to Take Place in New York City on August 25
NEW YORK, July 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- On August 25 in New York City, environmental lawyer and former academic Dario Hunter will become the first Muslim-born man to be ordained as a rabbi. Hunter, an openly gay man raised by an Iranian Muslim father and an African-American mother, will graduate alongside classmates who include a Catholic-born Brazilian and a British songwriter. But so far, none of the graduating class has ever met in person: they've all studied via an online program led by Rabbi Steven Blane of the Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute (JSLI).
A year ago Hunter left behind his academic career in the US and moved to Israel, where he decided to study toward rabbinical ordination. Now, he wakes at 3am Israeli time every Monday to meet Rabbi Blane and his classmates online.
One-third of the members of Hunter's graduating class are converts to Judaism, and their diversity of backgrounds reflects Rabbi Blane's belief in the need to train rabbis to serve the nearly 50% of Jews who are unaffiliated or in interfaith marriages. Blane himself left his previous rabbinical position because he felt he needed to pursue a more progressive mission, and he resigned from the highly regarded Cantors Assembly in 2009 when he was threatened with expulsion for officiating at interfaith weddings. He now trains rabbis and runs an online synagogue, Sim Shalom, which holds services for a global congregation every week.
Blane knows that a former Muslim becoming a rabbi will be uncomfortable for some, but the plurality of backgrounds of his graduating class fits perfectly with his belief in Jewish Universalism. "I don't believe that Jewish people were uniquely chosen for a relationship with God - God doesn't choose a favorite child," says Blane. "Nearly 50% of the Jewish population finds deep significance in observing Holiday and life-cycle rituals, but doesn't feel like any traditional denomination reflects their views. There's a huge need for rabbis who can provide spiritual leadership that serves this large and important group."
For his part, Hunter sees his story as an opportunity to use faith to bridge the gaps between people. And although his acceptance in traditional Judaism is uncertain, one thing's for sure: when he finally meets his fellow classmates in New York on August 25, they'll have plenty to talk about.
About Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute (JSLI)
JSLI is an online rabbinical school, founded by Rabbi Steven Blane in New York City, which trains future rabbis to spread Jewish thought and rituals to the nearly 50% of Jews who are unaffiliated or in interfaith marriages. Its one-year program of study takes place online, and its current class will be ordained at the Subud Chelsea Center in New York City on August 25. Previous classes of alumni have been ordained in Vermont and Delray Beach, Florida.
Rabbi Steven Blane is available for comment, and can be reached on (201) 338-0165
Media Contact: Rabbi Steve Blane JSLI- The Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute, 9174070477, email@example.com
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SOURCE JSLI- The Jewish Spiritual Leaders InstituteBack to top