JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Ukraine native will be the first Conservative rabbi to serve in the former Soviet republic.
Reuven Stamov, 38, originally from Crimea, on Feb. 3 will be the 82nd rabbi to be ordained by the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem.
Stamov, with his wife and their two daughters, will return to Ukraine from Israel to serve as the first rabbi from the Conservative movement in Ukraine and the former Soviet Union, according to the seminary.
Stamov had made aliyah in 2003 with his wife, whom he met at a Midreshet Yerushalayim Jewish community school where he was teaching. Soon after he began rabbinical studies at the Schechter seminary.
By the age of 23, Stamov completed his master’s degree in mechanical engineering in Ukraine, but could not find a job in his field and instead took a job as a guide in a local Jewish youth club, despite negligible knowledge of Judaism and the history of the Jewish people
He later worked at the Ramah-Ukraine summer camps sponsored by Schechter’s Midreshet Yerushalayim Jewish enrichment programs for Jews in the former Soviet Union.
"Campers loved him. He sang with them and piqued their curiosity about Judaism and its vast stores of knowledge," said Gila Katz, director of Midreshet Yerushalayim Eastern Europe, adding that he will do well in energizing those Jewish communities in Ukraine.