Reform rabbis were ordained in Holland for the first time.
The Robert A. Levisson Institute ordained its first five graduates Wednesday at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of the Liberal Jewish Congregation in The Hague.
Rabbi David Lilienthal, who founded the institute in 2004, blessed the new rabbis, who include Tamarah Benima, Marianne van Praag, Albert Ringer, Navah-Tehila Shmuelit-Livingstone, and Kineret Sittig. The new rabbis are all Holland residents who took part in the five-year, part-time rabbinical program while continuing in other careers.
Lilienthal, the Swedish-born son of refugees from Germany and Russia, served as Holland’s main Reform rabbi from 1971 until 2004, when he left to build the new institute. He told JTA his dream was to encourage people from Holland who wished to pursue rabbinical studies but could not afford to do so abroad.
There are some 40,000 Jews in Holland today, and about 4,000 are members of Reform congregations, Lilienthal said.
The Institute is named after the late Levisson, a prominent member of the Reform Jewish Community in the Netherlands who died in 2001.