By Ruth Thomas…

Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon [pictured above] has a string of firsts to her name.

She was the first woman in the history of the state of Israel to serve as a congregational rabbi after being ordained in 1981 as one of the first 22 women in the world to become rabbis.

She was the first woman to chair the Council of Progressive Rabbis in Israel.

She was instrumental in establishing the first Reform day school to receive state funding from the Israeli government.

She fought for Yozma’s kindergarten programmes to be recognized by the Ministry of Education, making them the first congregational Reform Jewish kindergartens in  Israel.

And this year Rabbi Shiryon will be coming to Wellington’s Temple Sinai for the High Holydays.

Born Sandra Levine, she was ordained at the Hebrew Union College and made Aliyah in 1983. For 7 years she was rabbi at Ramat Aviv before moving to Modi’in, a new city between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

There she founded Kehillat Yozma. Because Israel has historically been unsupportive of non-Orthodox denominations of Judaism it took 11 years to receive funds to construct a building for the synagogue.

Kehillat Yozma is known for its social justice partnerships, such as with the Beit Eden community for special needs children, and various outreach efforts for economically struggling families. It has become well-known as a flourishing and well-recognised community of Progressive Judaism in Israel.

Rabbi Shiryon’s first visit to Temple Sinai was in 2010 and the congregation is delighted she is returning.