Rabbi Hershel Rader has been the Spiritual Leader of the Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation since 2009.
Rabbi Hershel studied in France, Israel and the United States before receiving his Rabbinic ordination in 1978. In 1981 he received his advanced ordination (Yadin Yadin – the academic qualification for a Rabbinic Judge).
He married Perla in 1980 before taking up his first post as Director of Education for the fledgling Solihull community in 1982. Whilst acting as Programme Director for the Birmingham Lubavitch Centre, he was responsible for youth and educational activities that ranged from a weekly ‘Yeshiva Programme’ for teenagers to a summer play scheme which attracted up to 150 youngsters.
In 1984 he was appointed as Rabbi to the Solihull community, its first Rabbi, and remained in that position until the end of 1993. During his tenure the community grew, both in numbers and stature, with a comprehensive array of social and educational activities. Principal among his successes was the Cheder, which doubled in size and attracted pupils from neighbouring Birmingham and areas further afield such as Coventry and Evesham.
In 1994 he became Rabbi of the Woodside Park and North Finchley United Synagogue in London, a community of over 800 families. Among his many activities in Woodside Park he was responsible for introducing the LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) Adult Education Programme, establishing an Israel Committee and was heavily involved in the building of the Synagogue’s new Community Centre and setting up a Welfare Support Network.
Rabbi Hershel also served as Chairman of the Nursery at Woodside Park and, together with Perla, ran the Bar and Bat Mitzvah programme. He was one of the first rabbis to conduct Bat Mitzvah ceremonies on Shabbat. In honour of that community’s 60th anniversary he organised the writing and dedication of a new Sefer Torah.
In 2003 Rabbi Hershel was named an Ambassador of Goodwill for Israel by government minister Benyamin Alon. In 2005 he led a mission to Israel which presented an Ambulance to the ZAKA humanitarian organisation. He has been acclaimed by the United Synagogue as ‘a hugely popular Rabbi, who has created and developed a young and flourishing community in the area’.
Upon arriving at Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation in 2009, Rabbi Hershel began to fulfil a full range of ritual, pastoral and educational responsibilities. He and Perla have also organised many social and religious events including celebratory festival meals, Shabbatons, communal Pesach Sedarim and the very popular Annual Summer Barbeque.
Since arriving in Hove he has introduced a continually expanding educational programme that currently includes a number of weekly shiurim that are very well attended. He and Perla enjoy teaching at the Cheder with two of their children, Tzippora and Mendel. The number of pupils attending the Cheder – where Rabbi Hershel has introduced the acclaimed Aleph Champ Hebrew Reading Scheme- has dramatically increased and continues to attract many new members to the community. He is always available for counselling and pastoral visitations.
Rabbi Hershel Rader is known as a committed advocate for both Israel and authentic Jewish values and he is unafraid to speak out for what he believes in. The Jewish Chronicle wrote that his “sermons usually combine current affairs and the week’s Torah portion. He picks up on issues which are of concern to his congregants, often focusing on events in Israel. He has a low-key eloquence and speaks with sensitivity and humour.”
Perla and Hershel Rader have six children: Zalmy, Chani, Yehuda, Mushka, Tzippora and Mendel. Zalmy, Chani and Mushka are married and live in Montreal, London and Melbourne Australia, respectively. They are also the very proud grandparents of 3 grandsons and 7 granddaughters.