Stephen Slater to be next Beth-El rabbi in Birmingham

On June 15, Rabbi Stephen Slater will become the rabbi of Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El, the largest Conservative congregation in Alabama.

Slater is in his final year of studies before ordination at Hebrew College in Boston. He has been the student rabbi at Shaaray Tefila, a Conservative congregation in Glens Falls, N.Y., and rabbinic intern at the University of Rhode Island Hillel.

A Detroit native, Slater grew up in West Africa, speaking French and Hebrew fluently. His bachelor’s degree is from Hillsdale College, and he has a master’s in Jewish studies from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

While in Israel, he also studied at the Hartman Institute and the Conservative movement’s yeshiva.

In 2012, after meeting Sudanese refugees in Israel, he co-founded “Right Now: Advocates for African Asylum Seekers” to express principled concern about the treatment of African refugees in Israel.

He has also been a residential counselor at Brandeis University and a youth counselor at Boston Impact Group. Before beginning rabbinical school, Slater taught Jewish thought, Chumash and Beit Midrash at Milken Community High School in Los Angeles and at Hebrew schools in Los Angeles and New York. He also taught Hebrew online.

He and his wife, Bethany, have a two-year-old daughter, Anav.

Beth-El President Jacob Halpern said Slater’s “outgoing, inspirational ability to reach all age groups was evident from the overwhelmingly positive feedback the (Rabbi Search) Committee received from the congregation. I am excited for the promising future Temple Beth-El holds.”

Slater succeeds Rabbi Barry Leff, who has been serving the congregation as interim rabbi for two years. The congregation started a visioning process in January 2017, then began its rabbinic search last fall.