Flanders shul leader now an ‘official rav’
Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News
Moshe Rudin, who has been the student rabbi at Temple Hatikvah in Flanders for four years, was ordained as a rabbi at the 2010 graduation ceremonies of the Academy for Jewish Religion on May 13.
He was one of eight rabbis ordained and two cantors invested that day. The cantors included Joan Finn, who has been serving as cantorial soloist at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange.
For Rudin, the ceremony, in which three of his teachers placed their hands on his head and offered a blessing, left him filled with awe.
“It was a profound moment. It was so moving and powerful. I was shaking. I felt so many people were speaking through the teachers of mine all the way back to Sinai,” he said.
A former principal of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union’s Cranford lower school, Rudin is hardly a newcomer to the Jewish professional field.
And yet, as the “official rav,” or rabbi, of the Flanders synagogue, “it’s surprisingly different,” he said. “There’s a certain gravitas to what a rabbi does that a student rabbi just does not have. For everything, I am a symbolic exemplar. I represent Jewish tradition. Before adopting any approach, perspective, or policy, or make any statement from the bima, I have to say to myself that everything I have to say now joins the annals of what rabbis have said and I take that very seriously.”
Rudin has no plans to move from his current position. “The shul has unbelievable potential,” he said. “It’s a warm and lovely place, and I’m grateful to everyone there. It has a great destiny to fulfill.”
Attending AJR — a pluralistic seminary located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx that is not associated with any of the major denominations — put the pieces of Rudin’s past together, he said. His early roots in Boston are in the Reform movement and the secular Labor Zionist youth movement, although his mother was raised Orthodox. He studied at the pluralistic Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem; while living in Israel, he also studied Jewish thought and education at the Oranim Academic College in Tivon.
Rudin has been a Conservative movement educator since returning to the United States in the 1980s, teaching first in the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, then becoming principal at the Rabbi Harry Halpern Day School in Brooklyn. At the Cranford school, which closed at the end of the school year in 2008, he pioneered a special curriculum preparing students for leadership in the Jewish community.
Rudin weaves his love for music into his rabbinate, as he did into education.
He served as music director at both Camp Young Judaea and at Camp Yavneh and continues to infuse prayers with traditional, contemporary, and original Jewish songs. While he was a student rabbi, Temple Hatikvah created its own simha band, Shirei Simcha.
Rudin lives in West Orange with his wife, Joyce, and their daughter, Sophie. He also has two older sons, Yonatan and Shimrit.
Asked about his goals as a rabbi, he said, “I just want to bring honor to the Torah and to my teachers.”