RABBI RIFAT SONSINO, LLB, Ph.D., D.D

101 Braeburn Lane

Ashland, MA. 01721

508-309-3422

rsonsino@tbsneedham.org

http://www2.bc.edu/~sonsino

 

Rabbi Rifat Sonsino is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Shalom, Needham , Ma.  and is a member of the faculty at Boston College's Theology department.

Born in l938, Rabbi Sonsino attended the University of Istanbul, Turkey, and graduated in 1959 with a degree in law. After serving in the Turkish army as a tank commander, he went to Paris, France to study at the Institut International d’Etudes Hebraiques. In 1961 he entered the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati from which he received his rabbinic ordination in 1966 with a Masters degree in Hebrew literature. In the meantime, he held student pulpits in McGehee, Ark., Jonesboro, Ark. and Kokomo, Ind.

 

After ordination, the World Union for Progressive Judaism sent Rabbi Sonsino to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to become the Rabbi of the only Reform Temple in the country, Temple Emanu-El (1966-1969). From 1969 to 1975 Rabbi Sonsino served at Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood, Pa. (a suburb of Philadelphia), and from 1975 to 1980 at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Ill. (a suburb of Chicago).

 

Rabbi Sonsino, a past president of the Boston Area Reform Rabbis (BARR), has taken an active role in a number of community programs. He chaired the North Shore Interfaith Housing Council (Chicago), the North Shore Fellowship of Rabbis (Chicago), the Program Committee of the UAHC Eisner camp, the Needham Clergy Association, the Joint Committee on Reform Jewish Education (Chicago and Boston) and the North East Region of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (NER/CCAR). He has also served on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR).

 

Rabbi Sonsino holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (1975) in  Bible and ancient Near Eastern studies. His articles on Bible and Judaica have appeared in a number of scholarly journals. His book, Motive Clauses in Hebrew Law, was published in 1980 by Scholars Press for the Society of Biblical Literature. It was reissued in 2004. He is the co-author of Finding God: Selected Responses  (Daniel B. Syme, co-author) (NY: UAHC, 2002, Revised Edition), What Happens After I Die? Jewish Views of Life After Death (Daniel B. Syme, co-author) (NY: UAHC, 1990), Six Jewish Spiritual Paths (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, Nov. 2000), The Many Faces of God; A Reader of Modern Jewish Theologies (NY: URJ Press, 2004) and Did Moses Really Have Horns? And Other Myths About Jews and Judaism (NY: URJ Press, 2009).  From 1997 to 2001, Rabbi Sonsino was the editor of the CCAR Journal.

 

In 1991 the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion bestowed upon Rabbi Sonsino an honorary doctorate in recognition of his 25 years in the Rabbinate.

 

Rabbi Rifat and Ines Sonsino have two children, Daniel Sonsino (married to Gabriela) and Deborah Seri (married to Ran), and four grandchildren, Ariella and Dalia Sonsino as well as Avi and Talya Seri.