Congregation Agudas Achim has named Rabbi Stephen E. Slater to be its new head rabbi and Avi Allen to be the Bexley synagogue’s new executive director.
Slater’s naming comes after a year-and-a-half long search that included interviews with a leadership group co-chaired by the new executive director and Brad Kastan, along with other congregants and clergy, according to a synagogue news release. Slater, who officially begins in mid-July, was affirmed April 21 as the next head rabbi after a congregational vote. He will be moving from Birmingham, Ala., with his wife, Bethany, and their two children.
In the release, Slater said he is excited by the opportunity and was attracted to the synagogue in part by his positive impression of the congregants and the broader community.
"Bethany and I consider this a wonderful opportunity to come care for a lovely, historic congregation," he said in the release. "We are attracted by the tightly-knit, deeply committed and highly knowledgeable Jewish community; the uncommon neighborliness of Bexley and Columbus; and the congregation’s desire for a dynamic rabbi to take a communal leadership role. The congregants gave us such a feeling of genuine warmth, devotion and energy that we can’t wait to become the rabbi and rebbetzin of this wonderful gem of a shul."
Kastan said he believes Slater will help usher in a more vibrant Jewish experience.
"Our congregation’s future is so bright," Kastan said in the release. "Engaging Rabbi Slater along with his wife, Bethany, and their family will bring energy and passion to Jewish life that Agudas Achim hasn’t experienced in a generation. Our goal should be nothing less than creating the best Conservative congregation in the Midwest."
Meanwhile, Allen, Kastan's fellow rabbinic search committee co-chair, takes over as the synagogue's executive director.
Josh Ruben, chair of the executive director search committee, called Allen "clearly the best choice for our congregation,” adding that "his enthusiasm for the position made the entire process a great success for our search committee. We know that Avi is going to be a wonderful asset to our shul," in the release.
Allen, his wife, Sarah, and their two sons have been members of the congregation since their move to Columbus two years ago. Allen is an attorney at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP in Columbus, focusing on labor and employment issues.