Reflections: 20 Years of Sorensen Fellows

Avram Mlotek '09
2008 Sorensen Fellow
Hope Community Services
Mekelle, Ethiopia
Yemin Orde Youth Village
Haifa, Israel

Read Avram's 2008 Sorensen Fellow essay here.

avramAvram Mlotek spent his Sorensen Fellowship working with two organizations, Hope Community Services in Ethiopia and Yemin Orde Youth Village in Israel. These experiences fueled his spiritual activism and planted seeds for his interest in service, interfaith dialogue, and community building.

avram“Meet Gabe (Geb) Beyenne, a pastor and founder of Hope Community Services (HCS) along with his partner Connie. Together they spearhead HCS which seeks to support the needy in their community: orphans, fistula victims, destitute elderly and the disabled. Geb is the type of spiritual activist who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. I remember cutting elephant grass with him to feed the cows (and how tenderly he watched over a mother cow give birth through one sleepless night) as well as watching him work with community leaders and countless children who crossed his path. As I think of my rabbinate now, Geb played a pivotal role: he, and his life partner, live the change they wish to see in the world.”

avramThe second half of his summer internship was spent overlooking this view of Northern Israel as Avram volunteered at Yemin Orde Youth Village, a home, school and safe-haven to over 400 at-risk and immigrant youth from all over the world. Founded in the early 1950s, the village is open 24/7, every day of the year, serving children with a variety of educational, therapeutic, and social services. These children do not have anywhere else to call home. When Avram arrived, the village's visionary leader of 30 years, Chaim Peri, was just stepping down. Avram was fortunate to witness him in action as well as to see how an idea can evolve into a movement. “The contrast between poverty-stricken Ethiopia andIsrael was stark,” Mlotek remembers,“but the glue of that summer was in learning from these community leaders as well as working with children in need.”

Rabbi Avram Mlotek is co-founder of Base Hillel and serves as rabbi of its Manhattan site. Base Hillel is a growing movement of pluralistic rabbinic couples who use their homes as convening points for Jewish life centered upon hospitality, learning and service. In May 2015, Avram was listed as one of America's “Most Inspiring Rabbis” by The Jewish Daily Forward and in 2012, The New York Jewish Week selected him as a “leading innovator in Jewish life today,” as part of their “36 Under 36” section. His writing has appeared in The Forward, Tablet, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Week, The Huffington Post, and Kveller, among other blogs. Mlotek completed two units of Clinical Pastoral Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary and
received rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He is blessedly married to Yael Kornfeld, a social worker, and proud Tati to Revaya and Hillel Yosl.