Nusach Hari Welcomes New Assistant Rabbi
After an extensive search process that moved forward even during the pandemic, Rabbi Avi Okin has joined Nusach Hari B’nai Zion as the congregation’s new Assistant Rabbi. Rabbi Okin just arrived in St. Louis from Los Angeles with his wife Devorah Tova and their one-year-old son Binyomin, and will formally begin in his position on September 1. In addition to providing rabbinic support to the congregation as a whole under NHBZ’s Senior Rabbi, Rabbi Ze’ev Smason, he will be focused on programming for young families and singles, children, and young adults.
“My wife and I are very excited to be moving to the St. Louis Jewish community. We love how warm and welcoming the community has been and we appreciate all the big city conveniences that St. Louis has to offer. I am really excited about the opportunities to help make our mark by helping the entire community, but especially helping young families and adults feel engaged and empowered and making Judaism more relevant in their daily lives. I am also looking forward to learning the ‘tools of the trade’ and pastoral demeanor from an expert in working with Jews from all walks of life, Rabbi Smason. The prospect of accompanying Rabbi Smason and assisting him in lifecycle events is very exciting to me.”
NHBZ President Menachem Szus explained NHBZ’s motivation: “NHBZ prides itself on its commitment to the entire community to provide opportunities to reconnect with Jewish roots. We didn’t see this as a luxury but a community need. It’s all the more important now in challenging times to reach out to the dissatisfied, disillusioned and disconnected parts of our Jewish family. We were impressed with their knowledge, warmth, and personal commitment to each and every Jew. We are really looking forward to creative and innovative programming and events, and the personal touch we think they will provide.”
Rabbi Okin’s educational and work experience highlight this commitment. Rabbi Okin not only received his Rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University, but also received his Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Social Work there. Mrs. Okin is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Rabbi Okin has served as an NCSY Advisor, fifth-grade teacher, substitute synagogue rabbi, an Outreach Fellow with Aish HaTorah, a sports camp counselor, and a “first responder” with an organization that provides help to stranded motorists.
Rabbi Smason summed up NHBZ’s enthusiasm about the addition of the Okin family: “I have found Rabbi Okin to be warm, engaging, and thoughtful. With a deep, broad base of Torah knowledge and a passion to share his love of Judaism with others, I am excited that Rabbi Okin, his wife Devorah Tova and son Binyomin are part of the Nusach Hari B’nai Zion family. I am confident Rabbi Okin will encourage and inspire many to seek a more committed Jewish life. — particularly the younger families within our congregation and those in the broader St. Louis Jewish community.”
- Parshat Vayeria – Maximizing our PotentialBelow is the link to Rav Okin’s Dvar Torah from last Shabbat: Parshat Vayeria, 1/16/2021, Rav Avi Okin “Maximizing our Potential”
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