by the Forward

Avi Winokur

Society Hill Synagogue | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | 64 years old

Rabbi Avi Winokur has been a leader in many ways. He is warm and welcoming, but also insightful. His combination of intelligence and passion has brought many new and diverse members to our synagogue. Rabbi Winokur has a son who struggles with very serious health conditions. Watching the grace with which Rabbi Winokur handles this tremendous struggle inspires many members of the congregation to bear their own burdens better — including me. Rabbi Winokur inspires the Hebrew school students with his love of learning and interest in their own spiritual journeys. He spends many hours one on one with each b’nai mitzvah candidate, which makes the experience more meaningful. Because he has made it such a wonderful process, we are seeing adults becoming a bar or bat mitzvah, and many more who have become very engaged in adult education. Rabbi Winokur also teaches adult education classes and has spread Jewish learning throughout our community: members and non-members flock to his classes. Rabbi Winokur has been a leader in promoting the synagogue’s social justice efforts; recently, he spoke at rallies in support of school funding and fair wages. In the past five years, I have had breast cancer and my husband died, and Rabbi Winokur was there to support me through it all.

— Debby Freedman + 6 other nominations

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