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Silverstein, Alan


SILVERSTEIN, ALAN (1948– ), U.S. rabbi. Silverstein was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1970 and an M.A. from Columbia University in 1973. In 1975, he was ordained at the *Jewish Theological Seminary, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1990. He served as rabbi of Congregation Tifereth Israel in Cornwells Heights, Pennsylvania (1974–79), before becoming rabbi of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, New Jersey (1979– ). In New Jersey, he was president of the New Jersey Region of the *Rabbinic Assembly (1984–86), of the Metrowest Board of Rabbis (1986–88), of the West Essex Clergy Association, and of the statewide New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders [of all faiths] (2003–05). He was also a member of the National Rabbinic Cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal.

In 1992, he was elected vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, becoming president in 1994 (to 1996). As president, Silverstein worked to implement the three-fold approach of Conservative Judaism toward interfaith marriage: ideally promoting marriage within the faith; after the fact of intermarriage, facilitating the creation of Jewish households via conversion; finally, if no conversion is in the offing, advocating keruv – bringing the intermarried couple closer to Judaism and assisting them in selecting Judaism for their children and raising them unambiguously as Jews. Following his term of office, Silverstein served as vice president of the American Zionist arm of Conservative Judaism, Mercaz usa (1996–2004). In 1997, he became a member of the Founding Executive Committee of the National Council of Synagogues, until 2000, when he was elected president of the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues (2000–05). In this capacity, he established a central office in Jerusalem and hired the organization's first full-time executive vice president and other professionals. He also created a formal partnership between the council, whose name he changed to Masorti Olami, and Mercaz Olami, Conservative Judaism's global Zionist arm. Under Silverstein's leadership, the number of kehillot affiliated with Masorti Olami grew from 70 to 120, while its international youth movement, Noam, and young adult leadership network, Marom, grew concomitantly. In addition, 15 rabbis were placed in new congregational positions, and Chayl Masorti (the Masorti Peace Corps) was launched.

Silverstein has written numerous articles on intermarriage, conversion, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is the author of three books: Alternatives to Assimilation: The Response of Reform Judaism to American Culture, 18401930 (1994); It All Begins With A Date: Jewish Concerns About Intermarriage (1995); and Preserving Judaism in Your Family After Intermarriage Has Occurred (1995).

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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