Congregation Kehillah Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman was elected president of the Greater Phoenix Board of Rabbis in early May for a two-year term.
She is working with BOR’s executive committee to flesh out a collective vision.
Sharfman said she wants BOR to be available as a resource, which strengthens synagogues and Jewish organizations and fosters more collaboration.
First and foremost the board is a professional association. “We’re here to support each other in terms of sharing information, ideas and resources,” she said. “We see ourselves also as being in a position to rise and respond to the needs of our community where and when we are needed.”
Her first move as president was the creation of a video that the board released June 9, encouraging the Jewish community to remember its heritage and to find strength during a time of increased antisemitism.
“At our first executive committee meeting, we talked about how there was a very pervasive atmosphere of concern and anxiety in the Jewish community — and this is a typical Board of Rabbis’ executive committee question: What can we do to help?”
Sharfman; Rabbi Aviva Funke, principal of Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Phoenix’s Hebrew High; Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, president and dean of Valley Beit Midrash; Rabbi Bonnie Koppell of Temple Chai; Rabbi Nitzan Stein Kokin of Beth El Congregation; Rabbi Zari Sussman of Temple Beth Emeth; and Rabbi Jeremy Schneider of Temple Kol Ami all shared a few words in the collective video.
This isn’t Sharfman’s first time as BOR president. She was also at the helm 10 years ago. Since then, the Jewish community and its needs have evolved.
“I think Jews are looking for experiences that are less institutional, more connected,” Sharfman said.
The health of the Jewish community is very important to everybody who serves in Jewish communal life, she said.
“There is a certain synchronicity that when synagogues are healthy, they help other synagogues be healthy. And when Jewish communal agencies are healthy, they help the rest of the community also be healthy,” Sharfman said. “So we want to reach out and do what we can to foster some of those really key relationships in the community.” JN