Jaime Klein Aklepi, rabbi at Bet Breira Samu-El Or Olom in Kendall, and Pinecrest resident is the first woman elected as President of the Southeast Central Conference of American Rabbis, (SEACCAR), the regional professional organization of Reform Rabbis which includes Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and parts of Tennessee.
SEACCAR is a region of the CCAR, the oldest professional Rabbinic Organization in the United States, founded in 1890. The mission of SEACCAR and the CCAR is to foster excellence in Reform Rabbis through professional development, personal growth, Torah study and additional education opportunities.
“I am honored to serve as president of such an important and distinguished organization and to help further my colleagues in their roles as rabbis and spiritual leaders. There are increasing challenges facing synagogues and religious institutions today and the rabbi, as leader must be prepared as never before. Not only do we serve as spiritual leaders, teachers and pastoral counselors, we must also be competent in leadership management and even in the use of the newest technologies.”
As for being the first woman president, Rabbi Aklepi says, “I’m very happy to be the first woman in this role. Sometimes in the rabbinic organizations it can feel like a Jewish good ole’ boys network, but that’s changing. It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the impact of women in religious life. I am always conscious of my ability to be a role model to other women.” Rabbi Aklepi has never been reluctant to be the first at something or to develop new programs or ideas. While she was the Hillel Director at the University of Miami, Rabbi Aklepi created and launched the first Birthright Program, the most popular Israel experience for young Jewish men and women. She is also a past president of the Rabbinic Association of Greater Miami, where she was the second women president. Today, Rabbi Aklepi serves one of the first combined Reform and Conservative congregations in the country. “Bet Breira Samu-El Or Olom is moving from an experiment in a new style of synagogue to its own special niche in the community. As we begin our fourth year as both reform and conservative we continue to embrace each tradition and offer multiple worship styles. At the same time, we are one institution and therefore for most of our activities and events, outside of worship, there is a seamless unity.” Rabbi Aklepi is looking forward to the challenges and rewards that will accompany her new role of president of SEACCAR.