For just over a half year now the Vilnius Jewish community hasn’t had an official rabbi.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community announced a public tender to find a new rabbi and received responses from over thirty honored rabbis from the USA, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Belarus, Latvia, Russia and elsewhere.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community are grateful for the response by all the rabbis, and for the concern and respect shown Lithuanian Jewish believers and their venerable past.
The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community have specific requirements and a clear and realistic vision for the post.
Some of the candidates were invited to Vilnius to introduce themselves to the community and successfully passed the initial interview process.
After we got to know them, the idea occurred to us to hire two rabbis who would form a rabbinate, assist one another and provide the broad spectrum of services needed by religious Jews, including organizing educational activities, getting youth involved at the synagogue, holding kolel Torah (seminars on Torah and the teaching of traditions), opening a small Sunday school for children, performing kosher services, performing brit milah, registering of marriages and vital statistics at the synagogue and setting up a mikvah.
The rabbis Kalev Krelin and Shimson Daniel Izakson have been asked to perform the services of rabbi at the Vilnius Choral Synagogue.
The chairpeople of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community resolved to do away with the “title” of Chief Rabbi because it contradicts the religious traditions of the Gaon and Litvaks. The chief rabbi is to be understood as the best rabbi. One may only become such through knowledge, moral authority and personal characteristics.
The rabbis Kalev Krelin and Shimson Daniel Izakson will be appointed the rabbis of the LJC and the Vilnius Choral Synagogue who together assist the Jewish religious communities of Lithuania as well.
Rabbi Kalev Krelin
born in Moscow in 1969. Studied at Moscow State University. Repatriated to Israel in 1988 where he studied at different yeshivas and the famous ARAN of Jerusalem. Worked as a teacher at the Copenhagen Jewish Academy, as community rabbi in Germany and rabbi of the Young Israel Synagogue in the United States.
Since 2012 he has lived with his family and worked in Riga as rabbi. He will reconcile his work in Latvia with his work as rabbi in Lithuania.
Rabbi Shimson Daniel Izakson
Born to a family of religious and traditional Jews in Mogilev, Belarus in 1987. He began Torat Chaim Yeshiva in Moscow at the age of 14. In 2005 he repatriated to Israel where he continued his education in Judaism at the Ateret Israel yeshiva. After he got his smicha (rabbinical ordination) he worked for 4 years as rabbi in the Vitebsk Jewish community. The Conference of European Rabbis recognized Rabbi Izakson’s special achievements in working with young people.
He will live permanently with his family and work in Vilnius.
Conference of European Rabbis Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt and Torat Chaim Yeshiva director Rabbi Moshe Lebel have welcomed and blessed the future work of Kalev Krelin and Shimson Daniel Izakson in Lithuania.
Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman, Lithuanian Jewish Community
Shmuel (Simas) Levinas, chairman, Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community