WEST ORANGE, NJ — Yerachmiel Meiersdorf, rabbi of the Masorti NOAM Youth Movement, and his wife, Nava, who is currently studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York, will speak on “Jews and Jews in Israel:  Different Worlds” at the Culture and Learning Center at B’nai Shalom in West Orange on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.

Raised in deeply observant Religious Zionist communities, the Meiersdorfs jointly led the first Kabbalat Shabbat prayer service at the egalitarian Masorti Kotel.  Their journey from ultra-Orthodox Judaism to an observant but pluralistic understanding of Jewish faith gives them a unique perspective on the Jewish religious spectrum in Israel today.

Nava Meiersdorf brings additional insight into the challenges faced by Jews who practice outside the prevailing Orthodox framework, as she recounts having been physically attacked while participating in a Rosh Hodesh service celebrating the 30th anniversary of Women at the Wall.

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Meiersdorf studied at three Orthodox yeshivot before graduating from Herzog College. After years of searching for a path within Judaism compatible with his thinking, he enrolled in the Schechter Institute, where he received an MA in Jewish Studies and earned rabbinic ordination. Now serving as rabbi for the NOAM Masorti Youth Movement, he is a bright star of the Masorti movement in Israel.

Nava Meiersdorf grew up in a Religious-Zionist family in Petach Tikvah, an ultra-Orthodox stronghold. Graduating from a religious girl’s school, she entered a mixed, religious-secular pre-army course—shocking her family.  Posted to work as a shlicha in Los Angeles, she found her vocation as a Jewish educator.  Returning to Israel, she entered the Schechter Institute, and then the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary. This semester, she is studying at the JTS.

The Meiersdorfs are founders of an egalitarian synagogue in Jerusalem.

This free event is open to all community members looking to hear this challenging story. Register in advance at the Culture and Learning Center at B’nai Shalom website, www.clc@bnaishalom.net.

The Culture and Learning Center is a new venture at B’nai Shalom—welcoming members and non-members alike to a dynamic series of more than 25 classes, lectures, concerts, exhibits and shared experiences designed to stimulate Jewish conversation and build community.