Rabbi Haim Ovadia of Magen David Sephardic Congregation in Rockville is the newest member of the Beltway Vaad.
“I’m very excited,” said Ovadia, adding that he was invited to join on his first day in town. Ovadia became spiritual leader of Magen David in July.
“The Vaad members are accomplished and inspiring leaders who understand today’s reality, and are able to listen and to respond to the polyphony of contemporary Jewish voices,” Ovadia said in a statement to Washington Jewish Week.
“I am also impressed by their insistence on transparency, so alarmingly lacking in the current religious landscape,” he said about the Beltway Vaad, which was launched in February of this year by five Washington-area Orthodox religious leaders. Rabbi Uri Topolosky of Beth Joshua Congregation in Rockville is its chairman.
Ovadia was born in Israel and came to Magen David after having worked at Mikdash Eliahu in Brooklyn, N.Y. He began his career as an assistant rabbi and cantor in Bogota, Colombia, where he worked from 1991 to 1996. He continues his family’s long tradition of becoming a rabbi, which dates back “probably 10 generations,” he said.
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, a founding member of the Beltway Vaad, called Ovadia “a man of great scholarship, wisdom, sensitivity and courage.”
Herzfeld, the rabbi at Ohev Sholom-The National Synagogue, said he looked forward to working with Ovadia “to strengthen our combined spiritual communities and the broader community of the Greater Washington area.”
Ovadia will be the Sephardic liaison for the Vaad. He served in the Israel Defense Forces and holds a bachelor’s degree in Talmud from Bar Ilan University and a master’s degree in Near East languages and cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his s’micha from Chief Rabbi Mordekhai Eliyahu through the Shehebar Sephardic Center in the Old City of Jerusalem.