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Ohr Kodesh Announces New Rabbi Selection

On behalf of the Ohr Kodesh Board, I am very excited to announce that the Board has unanimously selected Rabbi Corey Helfand as the new Rabbi of Ohr Kodesh Congregation, and Rabbi Helfand has accepted the position. We are thrilled to welcome Rabbi Helfand to Ohr Kodesh!

Rabbi Helfand will begin in July, stepping into the role currently held by Rabbi Lyle A. Fishman who is retiring in June after having served our congregation with distinction for 37 years. 

We are confident that Rabbi Helfand will be a top-flight and compelling educator, a warm and empathetic pastor, and a visionary leader for all of our members for years to come. For the past ten years, Rabbi Helfand has been the Senior Rabbi at Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, California.

A native of Kansas City, he is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinical School and Washington University (St. Louis). Rabbi Helfand and his wife Jenny Ackerman, a social worker, have three children, Eden, Matan and Jonah.

Rabbi Helfand stood out in an incredibly strong field of rabbinic candidates as someone who demonstrated truly extraordinary skill and devotion in the areas that our community identified as most important for our next Rabbi. We are confident that Rabbi Helfand will be an excellent fit for us both today, and as we move forward and grow together. I would like to express the Board’s and congregation’s sincere appreciation to the Rabbinic Search Committee and especially its chairs, Kim Price and Gary Libbin, for their many months of hard work and who so ably and thoughtfully steered us through this process.

Rabbi Fishman commented, “Mazal tov to Rabbi Corey Helfand. May he and his family find fulfillment in the embrace of our Jewish community. May he lead Ohr Kodesh from strength to greater strength in serving the Jewish people, humankind and God.”

“I am looking forward to welcoming Rabbi Helfand into our leadership,” added Cantor Hinda Labovitz, “and I look forward to our working together in partnership. Rabbi Helfand’s strong background, wisdom and experience will help lead Ohr Kodesh into the next phase for our vibrant community.”

Rabbi Helfand’s selection is the culmination of a multi-year process, commencing with the EnVision OKC project that helped us discover who we are as a community, followed by two dozen focus groups and a congregation-wide survey that further defined our congregational values and the desired attributes of our next Rabbi. Principal among these attributes were a community visionary, an empathetic source of pastoral care, and a compelling educator across all member cohorts. Other priorities included worship leader, religious motivator, inclusive leader and Jewish law expert. Additionally, it was essential that our next Rabbi contribute to the growth of our community and strengthen Ohr Kodesh as an organization. 

With these objectives in mind, the Rabbinic Search Committee conducted the search process, screened and interviewed numerous candidates, and invited three Rabbinic candidates for three-day virtual weekend visits in which hundreds of OKC congregants participated and gave extensive feedback in post-visit surveys. Following the completion of this process the committee unanimously recommended Rabbi Helfand, a recommendation unanimously endorsed by the OKC Board, and strongly supported by our members in the visits’ weekend survey feedback.

Thank you to everyone in our community who participated all through the process, including and especially during the focus groups, the congregational surveys, and the weekend visits. 

We have already begun working with Rabbi Helfand and his family on their move to our area and the transition. I know you all join me in welcoming Rabbi Helfand, Jenny, Eden, Matan, and Jonah to our community. We will share more updates on welcome activities in the coming weeks and months. This is a very exciting time for Ohr Kodesh Congregation and we are greatly looking forward to starting this new chapter with Rabbi Helfand.

Rabbi Helfand has recorded a video message to the congregation. Please click HERE to view and hear the message.

Seth Yoskowitz
President, Ohr Kodesh Congregation

Tue, April 13 2021 1 Iyyar 5781