Our Rabbis and Hazzan
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon came to B’nai Jeshurun in 1986 to share the pulpit with his mentor and friend Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer. Together they transformed this small, declining synagogue into a revitalized congregation (that today has a membership of more than 1,800 households) committed to an inclusive approach to liturgy and community and dedicated to the work of education, social justice, and interfaith cooperation.
Following the untimely death of Rabbi Meyer in 1993, Rabbi Matalon assumed BJ’s rabbinic leadership; in 1995 Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein—another student of Rabbi Meyer—joined him in rabbinic partnership, and in 2001 Rabbi Felicia L. Sol became the third member of the spiritual leadership of the congregation.
Rabbi Matalon serves on the boards of a number of agencies and organizations including the Board of American Friends of Parents Circle, the Advisory Board of Beit Tefillah Israeli-Tel Aviv, the Leadership Council of Habitat for Humanity, the International Council of New Israel Fund, the Advisory Board of Storahtelling, and the Honorary Advisory Board of T’ruah/The Rabbinical Call for Human Rights. Rabbi Matalon has received awards from the New York Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Peace Fellowship, and the New Israel Fund.
José Rolando Matalon was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1956. He attended the Universidad de Buenos Aires and the Université de Montreal, where he received a B.S. in chemistry. He went on to study at the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, with his teacher Rabbi Meyer, and attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for one year. In 1982 he came to New York to complete his studies for the rabbinate at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and he received his ordination and Master of Hebrew Letters there in 1986.
Rabbi Matalon is a founding co-director of Piyut North America, a partnership between B’nai Jeshurun and Hazmanah Le-Piyut in Israel. He plays the ‘ud (Arabic lute) and is a member of the New York Arabic Orchestra. Rabbi Matalon is married and has two daughters.
Rabbi Marcelo R. Bronstein
Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1954. He studied at Sh’nat Hachschara at B’nei Akiva, Israel in 1973 and received a BA, and a MA in Clinical Psychology, from Belgrano University. He got his Bachelor of Hebrew Letters from the University of Judaism, Los Angeles, in 1987, and his Masters of Hebrew Letters and Rabbinic Ordination in 1989 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.
Before coming to B’nai Jeshurun, Marcelo Bronstein served as Youth Director at Comunidad Bet Elin Buenos Aires and worked closely there with his teacher and mentor, Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer, for 10 years. After serving as Co-Director and then Director of Camp Ramah in Argentina, he became Youth Director, Student Rabbi and Director of Talmud Torah, Nueva Comunidad Israelita in Buenos Aires.
Rabbi Bronstein continued his training in psychology and had a clinical practice in the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Psychology at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School and at the Centro Médico Psicológico. At the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano, also in Buenos Aires, he became Professor of Group Dynamics and Evolutionary Psychology and had a thriving private practice specializing in adolescent therapy.
In 1989 Rabbi Bronstein became rabbi of Estadio Israelita in Santiago Chile and went on to found Congregacion Or Shalom in Santiago and serve as rabbi there. In 1995, after Rabbi Meyer’s death, Rabbi Bronstein joined Roly Matalon in the leadership of B’nai Jeshurun.
Rabbi Bronstein served on the boards of many Chilean and Argentine agencies concerned with social action, health, ecology, interfaith, and human rights issues. He sits on the advisory committee of Human Rights Watch/Americas and on the advisory boards of the Chaplaincy Program at Roosevelt St. Lukes Hospital, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Soaring Words and South Wing to Zion. He is a founding member of the Ecovilla Project: A Model for Sustainable Living in Costa Rica and is the co-founder and adviser to the Hineni Foundation (which serves special needs children) in Santiago, Chile. He is also a member of the Rabbinic Advisory Board ofHebrew College in Massachusetts. As one of the Rabbis of B’nai Jeshurun, he has launched many initiatives in the area of Jewish Mindfulness.
Rabbi Felicia L. Sol
While studying at HUC-JIR in New York, Rabbi Sol began her involvement with B’nai Jeshurun as the Family and Youth Director, a position in which she served for three years. During that period, she produced and edited Pnei Shabbat, B’nai Jeshurun’s family’s prayerbook, and she also edited Zimrat Yah: Prayers and Songs for Shabbat and Festivals. After her ordination, she became a Marshall T. Meyer Rabbinic Fellow at B’nai Jeshurun, serving in that position for two years under the mentorship of Rabbis J. Rolando Matalon and Marcelo Bronstein. In 2001, Rabbi Sol joined her teachers in their rabbinic partnership at B’nai Jeshurun.
In 2005 Rabbi Sol received the 2005 PaceSetter Award (nominated by Councilwoman Gale Brewer and presented by the New York City Council), and in 2006 she was honored as a Partner in Justice by Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps. She currently serves on the board of the Progressive Jewish Alliance and Jewish Funds for Justice.
Born in 1971, Rabbi Sol was raised in Connecticut. Following her graduation from Tufts University, where she received a BA in Developmental Psychology and Education, she received a Masters in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. During the course of her rabbinic studies she spent a year in Jerusalem. She received her Masters of Hebrew Letters in 1996 and rabbinic ordination in 1999 from HUC-JIR.
Rabbi Sol has a son and a daughter.
Hazzan & Music Director Ari Priven
Hazzan Priven has produced and performed in several recordings of BJ’s music, including With Every Breath (The Music of Shabbat), HaLailah Hazeh: The Music of Pesah at BJ, and TekiYah, Echoes of the High Holy Days at BJ, and he is the composer of a number of liturgical pieces. He participated in the production of the recordings of piyutim (liturgical poems) generated as a result of the Invitation to Piyut—North America conference in November 2010. The music of BJ is widely admired and has influenced many congregations across the country and around the globe.
Ari Priven was born in 1962 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was trained as a Hazzan by the late Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer. Ari Priven received a Masters degree from the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional. Shortly after Rabbi Meyer arrived in New York to revitalize B’nai Jeshurun, he called on Hazzan Priven to assume the duties of cantor and musical director, a position he has held since 1989.
Hazzan Priven lives in New York City with his wife, Nina Priven, MD, and their three children.