In this episode, we sit down with Rabbi Ari Hart. Rabbi Ari is a local Skevanston resident, and a a true community builder. He leads the Skokie Valley Agudath Synagogue, which is a modern Orthodox Jewish Synagogue in Skokie, Illinois. Rabbi Ari grew up in Evanston, and now lives in Skevanston with his wife Becca, and has two young children.
The episode walks us through Rabbi Ari’s background which didn’t start in the traditional manner for an Orthodox Rabbi. Rabbi Ari discusses why he enjoys the dynamic role of being a pulpit Rabbi.
The conversation then turns toward Rabbi Ari’s push towards social justice. We discuss his role in co-founding Uri L’Tzedek, which is an Orthodox social justice organization. More information about them can be found here: http://utzedek.org/
The discussion then goes towards Skevanston, and what brought Rabbi Ari back home. He talks about his vision for Skokie Valley, the changes taking place, and why he finds communal life so important. He discusses how the synagogue is more than just a place for prayer. It is a building to bring the community together no matter your beliefs, sexual preference, gender identity or physical or mental abilities.
Rabbi Ari also discusses the events that he is leading including community shabbat dinners; daily prayer services; the green team in partnership with Kol Sasson Congregation (https://kolsassoncongregation.shulcloud.com/) to make the building more sustainable; the relationship with Rohingya Refugee Community including an ESL program with young Rohingya mothers and hiring a member of the community; “The Known and the New,” series on Jewish intellectual history; and many more programs.
If you want to find out more, come see Rabbi Ari at the synagogue located at 8825 E. Prairie Road, Skokie, IL 60076. They have weekly services Saturday at 9AM, and daily services as well. You can find them online at http://www.svag.org and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/svajsynagogue/ and you can find Rabbi Ari on Facebook @arihart.