RABBI RIFAT SONSINO,
LLB, Ph.D., D.D
101 Braeburn Lane
Ashland, MA. 01721
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,
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. and Kokomo,
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
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.