Rabbi Ari Hart has only been at Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue for a year, and he's not only helping transform and grow the shul, adding 70 new member units in the first year, but positioning it -- and himself -- as a leader in outreach and community partnership in the greater Skokie and Chicago area.
In addition to his primary role of being there for his synagogue community, Ari is reaching across boundaries between Jews and other people and cultures in our community. He created a Tisha B'Av program partnering SVAJ with residents in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood that focused on reducing gun violence; he delivers hot food to the homeless living in tent cities; he has cultivated relationships with and support for Chicago's Rohingya refugee community in Rogers Park.
So it should be no surprise that Ari is the co-founder of the national Orthodox social justice organization Uri L'Tzedek, as well as the Jewish Muslim Volunteer Alliance in New York.
ON THE SIDE:
HOW DO YOU GIVE BACK:
I try to use my pulpit to give voice to those who have been silenced: People struggling with mental health, LGBT Orthodox Jews, abuse victims, refugees, etc.
A JEW WHO INSPIRES YOU:
The quiet ones who show up, make a difference, and do it again and again. You know who you are.
YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE:
There are two things in life that beforehand you may not want to do but afterwards you will never regret -- exercising and showing up for someone who needs you. Do both.