This Shabbat we read from the double portion Vayakhei-P’kudei which brings to a close the book of Exodus. When we stop for a moment to think about the People of Israel at the beginning of Exodus, versus the people at the end of the book,......
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik
Rabbi Hillel Boaz Skolnik was ordained at Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May, 2011. In the summer of 2011, Hillel and his family moved down to Orlando to become the Rabbi of the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation.
Born in New York, Rabbi Hillel spent his entire childhood in Forest Hills, Queens. He is a graduate of both the Solomon Schechter School of Queens and the Solomon Schechter High School of Long Island. Before beginning Brandeis University in 2002, Rabbi Hillel spent the year in Israel as a participant on the Nativ Leadership Program where he enjoyed wonderful learning at the Conservative Yeshiva as well as volunteering in the potato and carrot fields of Kibbutz Saad. In December of 2005, he graduated Brandeis University (cum laude) earning degrees in Politics and Near Eastern Judaic Studies.
Rabbi Hillel enjoyed many summers at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires first as a camper, then as a counselor, Rosh Edah (Division Head), and Operations Manager. Rabbi Hillel has also completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, acting as a chaplain at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. In addition, Rabbi Hillel served for a year as the Rabbinic Intern and Hebrew School Principal at the Shelter Rock Jewish Center in Roslyn, NY.
Since moving to Orlando, Rabbi Hillel has sought out every opportunity to be an integral part of our community. The congregants at SOJC agree that he is energetic, charismatic, friendly, and has great determination to help SOJC grow. In February, 2014 Rabbi Hillel became the president of the Greater Orlando Board of Rabbis. As his numbers with SOJC have grown, so has his influence in the Orlando community. Rabbi Hillel now serves on the Orange County Public Schools Faith Based Advisory Committee, the Faith Against Domestic Violence Task Force run by Harbor House of Central Florida, and is one of the Orlando Sentinel’s “100 Most Influential Voices of Central Florida” with his opinions printed often in their Sunday paper.
Hillel has always loved being in synagogue ever since he was a little boy. He began reading Torah at a young age and after his Bar Mitzvah quickly became a regular shaliach tzibbur (service leader) including on the High Holidays. In addition to his Judaism, Hillel is passionate about many things in life, including his family, Israel, and ultimate frisbee.
It was back at Brandeis that Hillel met a wonderful woman named Sharon Barr, who now goes by the name Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik (ordained from JTS in 2009). The two were married on June 18, 2006 and have since brought two beautiful daughters and a wonderful son into the world.
Rabbis Hillel and Sharon reside in the Dr. Philips area of Orlando with their three children. They are extremely excited about being part of the wonderful community that is SOJC!