NHBZ welcomes new assistant rabbi

The Okin family: Rabbi Avi Okin with his wife, Devorah Tova, and their 1-year-old son, Binyomin. As of Sept. 1, Rabbi Okin will serve as Assistant Rabbi at Nusach Hari B’nai Zion. 

After an extensive search process that moved forward even during the pandemic, Rabbi Avi Okin has joined Nusach Hari B’nai Zion as the congregation’s new assistant rabbi. 

Okin just arrived in St. Louis from Los Angeles with his wife Devorah Tova and their 1-year-old son, Binyomin, and will formally begin in his position on Sept. 1.  In addition to providing rabbinic support to the congregation as a whole under NHBZ’s Senior Rabbi Ze’ev Smason, he will be focused on programming for young families and singles, children and young adults. 

“My wife and I are very excited to be moving to the St. Louis Jewish community. We love how warm and welcoming the community has been,” Okin said in a statement. “I am really excited about the opportunities to help make our mark by helping the entire community, but especially helping young families and adults feel engaged and empowered and making Judaism more relevant in their daily lives.”

NHBZ President Menachem Szus said the hiring of Okin was based on the shul’s “commitment to the entire community to provide opportunities to reconnect with Jewish roots…We didn’t see this as a luxury but a community need.  It’s all the more important now in challenging times to reach out to the dissatisfied, disillusioned and disconnected parts of our Jewish family…We are really looking forward to creative and innovative programming and events, and the personal touch we think they will provide.”

Okin received his Rabbinic ordination — as well as his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in social work — from Yeshiva University.  Okin has served as an NCSY Advisor, fifth-grade teacher, substitute synagogue rabbi, an outreach fellow with Aish HaTorah, a sports camp counselor and a “first responder” with an organization that provides help to stranded motorists. His wife, Devorah Tova Okin, is currently pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology.