Rabbi B's Journey

OVERVIEW

For thirteen years Rabbi Baruch HaLevi served as a congregational rabbi (known as “Rabbi B”), where he helped transform a newly merged synagogue into one of the most vibrant, innovative and inspirational congregations in the country. Together, with a team of talented professionals and lay leaders, he designed and implemented a revolutionary new paradigm for American Judaism and Jewish life, as detailed in his book, “Revolution of the Jewish Spirit,” part of a Synagogue 3000 series. Through visionary leadership, cutting-edge programming, re-imagined fundraising and funding, innovative multi-media marketing, bold decision making, "radical hospitality" and unparalleled inspiration, he successfully overcame demographic downturns, Movement stagnation, rising un-affiliation rates, waning philanthropy, and usual merger failures. Congregation Shirat Hayam became an example of what is possible for an American suburban synagogue and Jewish community in the twenty-first century.

In 2014, Rabbi B and his wife, Ariela, decided to pursue their lifelong dream of making Aliyah (moving to Israel) where he established Rabbi B Initiatives, ultimately creating welaunch, an non-profit that is building bridges between Israel's growing entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem and the U.S. market. In the summer of 2018 he and his family relocated to Denver, CO both to be closer to family, as well as to expand the scope of welaunch activities. 

At heart, Rabbi B is a social entrepreneur and spiritual pioneer devoted to creating new paradigms and platforms to promote zionism, Judaism, Israel engagement, Jewish and Christian relations, impact investment and venture philanthropy.

 

ACADEMIC 

Baruch HaLevi received a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Kansas, followed by his M.A. in Hebrew Letters from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University in Los Angeles, CA. In 2002 hew was ordained as a Conservative rabbi.

In February 2008 Baruch received his doctoral degree in ministry from The Graduate Theological Foundation affiliated with Oxford University.

JOURNEY

Upon graduating from college, Baruch set out to fulfill his dream of becoming a motivational speaker and began his career working within the fitness industry in New York City. During this time he began studying Buddhism, mindfulness practice and Yoga, all of which would become centerpieces of his spiritual life and professional practice. Baruch's passion for spirituality led him to discover Kabbalah, re-discover his Judaism, and fall in love with Israel after having moved there to explore Judaic studies, first at  Livnot U'lehibanot and then, the Pardes Institute.

RABBINIC

In 1996 Baruch moved to Los Angeles and entered the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, spending the next five years studying to be a rabbi and working for his mentor, Rabbi Mordecai Finley at Ohr Ha-Torah synagogue. During this time he met the love of his life, Ariela, and the two were married in 1999, spending their honeymoon year in Israel.

In 2002 Baruch accepted a position at Tifereth Israel synagogue in Des Moines, IA. The HaLevi's spent four wonderful years helping to reinvigorate this historic congregation. It was also during this time they expanded the family with the arrivals of Yehuda and Maya.

Rabbi B has opened his heart, directed his mind, and shared his soulfulness so that a path long covered is again revealed! We are invited to dance our liberation, and the ancient incense of Torah ascends through his wondrous insights.
— Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies; vice president, American Jewish University;

In 2006 Baruch was recruited by a newly formed synagogue in Swampscott, MA,  Congregation Shirat Hayam (CSH), to become their first rabbi. The HaLevi's joyfully relocated to Swampscott where they also welcomed the births of their two other children, Shoshana and then Aviv. 

For the next decade Baruch worked to transform CSH into one of the most visionary, vibrant and successful synagogues in the country, as detailed in his book, "Revolution of Jewish Spirit." CSH has become a model of what is possible for the modern suburban synagogue in the twenty-first century. CSH has been visited, studied and replicated by rabbis, cantors, lay leaders, ritual committees, churches and pastors because of it's vision, innovation and inspiration. 

It was also during this time when Baruch decided to pursue his other passion, counseling people through grief, loss and despair. In 2008 Baruch earned a Doctoral of Ministry Degree, with an emphasis on Pastoral Counseling, from the Graduate Theological Foundation. In 2015 he published his second book, Spark Seekers: Mourning with Meaning and Living with Light, detailing his personal journey through loss and sharing the wisdom gathered from having guided thousands of others through the process.

ISRAEL 

In 2014, Baruch visited Israel during "Operation Protective Edge" and was awestruck at the courage and fortitude of the Israeli citizens to stand their ground and stay within their communities during such a frightful time. With the words of his mentor, Rabbi Daniel Gordis, ringing in his ears, "If a place can make you cry, isn't that where you should call home," Baruch and Ariela decided to make aliyah.  

The rise of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism is staggering and alarming. However, it gives me tremendous hope that someone with the passion, intellect and unrivaled power of speech, like Rabbi B, stands up for the Jewish people and advocates on behalf of Eretz Yisrael.
— Rabbi Mark Ankcorn

In the summer of 2015, the HaLevi's said goodbye to their beloved congregation and moved to Israel where Baruch established Rabbi B Initiatives, and ultimately welaunch, a U.S. based not-for-profit, which connects Israeli innovation and technology with the U.S. Midwest. welaunch equally serves an educational and engagement platform teaching the world about Judaism and Israel through the lens of "the Start-up Nation," Israel's unparalleled success within entrepreneurism, innovation and technological advancement. 

In  summer, 2018 the HaLevis relocated to Denver, CO to further the mission of welaunch as well as to live closer to family, knowing that they will, one day, return to Israel.