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Ilia and Sahar

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Ilia, 30, was born in Novosibirsk, Russia and made aliyah with his mother and brother in 1998 because of the country’s financial crisis. After earning his bachelor’s degree in political science and communications at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he decided to go on Shlichut through the Jewish Agency for Israel. He spent a year in Toronto working with Jews of all different backgrounds. The experience opened his eyes to the different kinds of Jews and ways of practicing Judaism around the world. He returned to Israel and currently works in recruitment at a boutique HR firm in Tel Aviv.

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Sahar, 27, was born in Netanya, raised on a moshav (cooperative farm community) nearby, and is currently enrolled in college, majoring in agriculture sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Before she enlisted in the army, Sahar did a year of service at the Reform Kibbutz Lotan in the south of Israel where she was first exposed to Reform Judaism. After completing her army service and returning to work at the kibbutz, she also decided to enter the shlichim program through the Jewish Agency. Sahar spent two years right here in Washington, DC, working at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Ohr Kodesh Congregation, and Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital. This experience opened her eyes to the diversity of the Jewish world outside Israel.

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Ilia and Sahar met at a conference for returning shlichim two years ago. They realize they come from different worlds, have different worldviews, and have experienced different perspectives on Israel and Judaism. However, they both feel a strong connection to Judaism and cannot accept a Judaism that does not allow for progress and equality, is intolerant and unaccepting, and does not permit someone to marry the person they love. This led them to the decision to have a Reform wedding. They believe that this decision has an impact on Israeli society, and by participating in an event such as "Three Weddings and a Statement," the impact of their decision will go beyond just their circle of friends and family.