Rabbi Arthur Lavinsky, the spiritual leader of Beth El Congregation in Phoenix, came to us in the Summer of 2003 by way of Akron, Ohio, where he served his synagogue with distinction for eight years. He also served congregations in Stockholm, Sweden, Philadelphia PA, Burlington VT and Tampa FL.
Raised in New York, Rabbi Lavinsky is a graduate of Columbia University where he majored in psychology and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he pursued a degree in Talmud, and was ordained as a rabbi in 1981. He studied for two years at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and spent his first years of rabbinical school at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, now the American Jewish University.
From his earliest years, Rabbi Lavinsky has exhibited his leadership skills as a United Synagogue Youth chapter president, regional officer, and president of the student body of JTS both as an undergraduate and as a rabbinical student. Additionally, he served two terms as the president of the Akron Area Interfaith Council and two term as president of the Ohio/Western Pennsylvania and Kentucky region of the Rabbinical Assembly and is a past president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix. He received his Doctor of Divinity degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary in December of 2007.
While serving as the President of the Tampa Rabbinical Association, Rabbi Lavinsky initiated a city wide education program encompassing all area congregations. Throughout his career, he has been an exemplary ambassador of the Jewish community to local churches, schools, and other institutions. A fervent supporter of Israel, he has helped in fundraising efforts for the United Jewish Communities and has been interviewed on radio and television many times regarding Jewish observance and current events in the Middle East . He has initiated numerous intra-faith (within Judaism) and inter-faith programs and has supported charitable boards and programs wherever he has resided. He currently serves on the DUET Arizona, Partners in Health and Aging. With a commanding pulpit presence, Rabbi Lavinsky has earned a reputation as a charismatic teacher and preacher, and he has proven to be a compassionate, pastoral presence to his flock in times of joy and sorrow. Committed to the three pillars of our faith, Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chassadim (Torah Study, Divine Service, and Acts of Loving-kindness) he has consistently endeavored to empower his congregants to take an active role in all facets of Jewish life.
Rabbi Lavinsky is also a retired Chaplain (Lieutenant Commander) in the United States Naval Reserve and served military units with the U.S. Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. He is married to Deborah Lavinsky, a financial planner with the Securus Financial Group in Scottsdale. They have two children, Shira Aviva James, who is an occupational therapist in Tempe (married to Ryan James who is a middle school teacher in Tempe) and Aaron David Lavinsky who is an award winning photojournalist and works for The Minneapolis Star Tribune in Minnesota.
Rabbi Lavinsky enjoys working with the very talented staff at Beth El along with its many committed lay leaders. He envisions both great challenge and opportunity in leading the congregation to new heights in the coming years. He was officially installed at our spiritual leader on December 19, 2004 and looks forward to a long and fruitful tenure at Beth El.
His love for Jews and Judaism are evident in every aspect of his service to the congregation, and Beth El has enjoyed a significant increase in activity and participation since his arrival. Rabbi Lavinsky vows to “work hand in hand with Beth El’s staff and officers to make Central Phoenix’s only Conservative congregation stronger and more vibrant than it’s ever been before.”
In addition to his love for his family, Torah and Beth El, Rabbi Lavinsky enjoys playing the game of golf. Those who have witnessed his skill on the links can attest to the fact that he won’t be giving up his day job anytime soon. If you ever see him on the links, just duck!
If you are a member or prospective member of Beth El Congregation and you would like to set up an appointment to meet with Rabbi Lavinsky, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 602-944-3359, extension 108. He would be delighted to meet with you.