Who We Are
The Massachusetts Board of Rabbis (MBR) is an organization of rabbis of various streams and groups serving congregations, agencies and institutions within Massachusetts. Its membership consists of men and women from across the denominational spectrum who come together for fellowship, religious camaraderie, educational enrichment, and to speak with a single voice on behalf of our Jewish community.
How We Got Here
Originally founded sometime around 1938, the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis was known as the Rabbinical Association of Greater Boston, and met at the offices of the Associated Synagogues at 177 Tremont St. (where the Va'ad meets today). Its founders included Rabbi Herman Rubenovitz of Mishkan Tefila, who served as president for many years, followed by Rabbis Louis Epstein (Kehillath Israel), Joshua Loth Liebman (Temple Israel), Beryl D. Cohen (Temple Sinai), Sam Abrams (Ohabei Shalom). Chaplaincy was a major topic of discussion, along with lay leader Harry Kraft of the Associated Synagogues (now the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts).
Why Join the MBR
The MBR is more than its rich history and wonderful programs; it is also about the relationships we build and the community we nurture. As a member of MBR you will be provided information to join the "Members Only" section of this site, which allows you to:
- -access our Members Directory
- -learn about special offerings for rabbis
- -have a conversation with colleagues through our blog
To join our growing community, click on the Membership menu item on the left.
Honoraria for Life-cycle Events
Current recommended fees for officiation at funeral homes in the Greater Boston area are:
$600-chapel service (effective June 2012)
$550-graveside service (effective December 2012)
The current range of fees for weddings in our area is from $750 to $1,500 (a/o February 1, 2015).
For information about clergy parking at area hospitals and discounts for Red Sox tickets for rabbis, please contact [email protected] for instructions or call 781-861-0300.
Thursday, November 3, 2016 - Workshop: "Respecting Broken Tablets: including and supporting community members whose lives are changed by Alzheimer's or a related disorder"
Breakfast at 9:30 am
Workshop from 10:00 - 11:30 am
at Temple Shalom of Newton
Beth Soltzberg, MSW, MBA, Director of the Alzheimer's/Related Disorders Family Support Program at JF&CS, and a coordinator of the Dementia Friendly Massachusetts Initiative, will lead a presentation and discussion about the profound and growing impact of dementia on our community. Alzheimer's has been termed "the theological disease" because of its unique challenges to concepts of personhood. Yet, as the prevalence of these conditions grows with our aging society, those living with dementia and those who care about them are speaking out more and more, and their experiences are motivating a fresh, hopeful and inclusive approach.
This presentation will address: (1) dementia fundamentals and concrete tips for communicating with someone who has dementia; (2) inspiration from success stories in synagogues and other faith communities around the U.S. and the world; (3) an update on efforts underway in Massachusetts communities, including a pilot initiative at Temple Shir Tikvah in Winchester; and (4) resources to learn more, and suggested ways that synagogues and other Jewish community organizations can help keep those living with dementia woven into the fabric of our community.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - Community Study discussion with CJP
Rabbi Laura Baum, CJP's Associate Vice President of Jewish Learning & Engagement and Elisa Deener-Agus, Associate Vice President, Planning will lead the discussion.
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In the Community
Statement on Transgender Inclusion
The Massachusetts Board of Rabbis celebrates the breadth of diversity within the Jewish people, as among all humanity. Delighting in the myriad ways that human beings are created in God’s image, we encourage the greatest spirit of openness in our communities, that we might be blessed through the unique holiness of all who enter.
Black Lives Matter — A Statement of Jewish Solidarity by the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis
The Massachusetts Board of Rabbis reaches out in solidarity with African Americans and with all Americans of conscience. We express outrage in response to the recent police killings of black males in our cities, two adults and a child, and deep concern over the failure of grand juries to indict. Grieving with their families, we honor the memories of Michael Brown, of Eric Garner, of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice.
The MBR general meeting on the "end-of-life" allowed us to explore this important topic with a panel of experts in a combination of training, lecture and havruta learning. Here are links to some of the resources mentioned at the Training.
September 2016 - "Surrender and Rebirth" with Nehemia Polen
The MBR was privileged to study with Rabbi Nehemia Polen for its opening meeting in Elul, exploring the topic of "Surrender and Rebirth: The Spiritual Cycle of the High Holy Day Season. The three texts we learned at this exquisite learning session all relate to transformation and teshuvah. According to Polen, "we tend to focus on the very same thing every year, so we have to wonder whether this process is working. In this spirit we are looking at three Hasidic texts that are deeply concerned with return in the metaphysical sense - return to some place it all began (or before it all began). This is return before rigidity and habit began. Ultimately, incubation of new spirit can emerge and become transforming.”
June 2016 - Israel Bonds Luncheon & High Holiday Sermon Seminar Provides High Level Learning with Art Green
Close to 40 members of the MBR enjoyed some exquisite learning at this year's Sermon Seminar with Art Green, the founding dean and currently rector of the Rabbinical School and Irving Brudnick Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Religion at Hebrew College. Text study focused on the yamim noraim and, in particular, "ROSH HASHANAH: HA-YOM HARAS 'OLAM? A Post-Evolutionary Celebration of Creation" and "YOM KIPPUR: Learning to Forgive."
After a delicious lunch sponsored by Israel Bonds, the learning continued with "SOD KERI'AT SHEMA': A Fragment from Green's Unpublished Commentary to the Siddur, Sefer Be'er Le-Hai Ro'i," which, as Art characterized it, is a little "Something for Your Neshama."
Enjoy a few quotes from our Art Gallery:
"How to build the bridge between what is written in Tanach and what I believe, is one of my most difficult challenges."
"Torah is God addressing us. Tefilah is us addressing God."
"Every Rosh Hashanah the world is created; each year the world is recreated by our teshuva."
"As leaders of Jewish communities we have a responsibility for the survival of the world."
"Teshuva is over; Yom Hadin has passed; God has forgiven. Now, on Yom Kippur, we celebrate!"
"We have to emulate God's forgiveness and learn to become forgiving."
May 2016 - Musical Prayer Leading Workshop with Nava Tehila
MBR and the New England Board of Cantors enjoyed a very special workshop with Nava Tehila, a liberal, egalitarian religious community in Jerusalem that has gained a reputation for its uplifting music. Rooted in Middle Eastern, Hasidic, contemporary Israeli, and other "world" musics, Nava Tehila's original compositions - alternately celebratory, meditative, joyful and reflective - were shared with more than 60 area rabbis and cantors to make the spirit soar.
In this workshop we were fortunate to experience the wonderful journey into the world of prayer with Daphna Rosenberg through chanting and the experience of heart-opening prayer. It was also useful to talk about the intention behind prayer and chanting, and touch upon how we can bring this into our personal lives.
March 2016 - "Jewish Law and Moral Values: The Obligations of the Israeli Government to its Minority Populations in Two Responsa of Rabbi Haim David Halevi"
Rabbi Haim David Halevi (1924-1998) was a prolific author of responsa and served for many years as Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yaffo. Dr. David Ellenson, the Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis and Chancellor Emeritus of HUC-JIR. presented two very interesting halakhic texts written by Halevi in which Halevi employed biblical and rabbinic sources to present a moral vision of how he felt the Israeli government was obligated to conduct itself in relationship to its non-Jewish citizens. In so doing, Rabbi Halevi wished to provide clear moral directives for the broad Israeli Jewish public. Its implications today are considerable. Ellenson notes that, according to Halevi, "anyone who thinks the halakha is frozen is wrong." Reviewomg several troubling texts, Ellenson posits that the modern reader has to determine "if it is possible to use negative texts to teach positive values."