Our Rabbi

Rabbi Monty Eliasov

Rabbi Monty is the Educational Director and Rabbi for Congregation Shalom Rav. Along with his educational and rabbinic duties, Rabbi Monty teaches classes in a variety of Jewish topics, and performs B’nei Mitzvah ceremonies and both traditional and interfaith Jewish weddings.

Biography

Rabbi Monty Eliasov was born in the Cape Province of South Africa and came to the United States at the age of sixteen to study rabbinic literature at the Telshe Yeshiva Talmudic Academy in Wickliffe, Ohio. He received his undergraduate training in both Jewish history and in economics at Yeshiva University in New York, and then went on to complete his M.A. in rabbinic literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

He has served for many years as religious educational director in both Conservative (full member Jewish Educators Assembly) and Reform (full member National Association of Temple Educators) synagogue schools and went on to study kabbalah and neo-chassidic prayer forms with Rabbi Zalman-Schachter, the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement.

He received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Gershon Winkler in a spontaneous ceremony in the summer of 1998 at the end of a Walking Stick Institute retreat, an annual retreat at which rabbis and Native American teachers converge to share their unique traditions and wisdom. In addition to being the director of the Walking Stick Institute, Rabbi Gershon Winkler is the author of many books of Jewish interest, including “The Place where you are Standing is Holy” and is the editor of “Pumbedissa Journal,” which is a forum for the uninhibited discussion of Judaic and rabbinic issues.

Rabbi Gershon traveled to Austin, Texas to publicly re-enact Rabbi Monty’s ordination ceremony on May 15th, 1999, with the members and friends of the Heart of Texas Havurah, the precursor to Congregation Shalom Rav, as witnesses to this unique and memorable ceremony. He was officially and publicly installed as the rabbi of the Havurah in March 2000 at a ceremony supported by his colleagues Rabbi Tirzah Firestone of Boulder, CO and Cantor Robert Esformes of Shokan, NY.

Rabbi Monty has since expanded his teaching of KabbalaHebrew classes and courses. His unique approach to teaching Hebrew along with his way of seeing the relationship of the language of the Torah to universal spiritual principles, plus the new Online Midrash Translation Studies, which convey literal renditions of ancient Rabbinic and Baal Shem Tov teachings, have coalesced, allowing him to prepare a creative path of Torah Study for those of us in the post-orthodox world.

RABBI MONTY ELIASOV PERFORMS INTERFAITH
JEWISH WEDDING CEREMONIES IN AUSTIN, SAN ANTONIO, HOUSTON, AND DALLAS

Rabbi Monty always knew he wanted to perform interfaith marriages. His “life’s mission,” as he terms it, comes from his deep conviction that Judaism is a porous religious faith, not one which was meant to be lived in isolation from the rest of society. Congregation Shalom Rav of Austin, Texas, has voted overwhelmingly in favor of his performance of Jewish interfaith wedding ceremonies with the full support of both the Board and the membership of the congregation.

For American Jews, intermarriage is a fact of life and has been for many decades. Rabbi Monty often meets older couples who all tell the same story — how they had difficulty finding a rabbi to perform their ceremony in decades past and that they are happy to see him doing this work. Rabbi Monty asks each couple to find the optimum balance they seek in their spiritual lives as a new couple.

One of his goals is to make sure that both sides of the family come away from the ceremony feeling both represented and included. He wants the ceremony to be the glue for a new relationship – one of hope and anticipation of the joys and challenges presented by the creation of a new family with members from two different religious backgrounds.

Rabbi Monty notes that more often than not the interfaith ceremony is in fact a transformative experience. He has witnessed latent and open antagonism turn into openheartedness and joyful acceptance right before his eyes. He has learned what the non-Jewish side of the new family needs in addition to what the Jewish side of the new family needs and proceeds to create a balance out of that understanding.

Rabbi Monty uses simultaneous translation into English of all the standard Hebrew blessings and prayers, and family and guests often remark how they feel the ceremony came across as meaningful for them as well. They understood his explanation of the symbols of the Jewish traditions and felt that the sacredness of the ceremony was passed on to them as witnesses. Many Jews who would otherwise not find Jewish representation at their ceremony are deeply thankful that Rabbi Monty has made this his life’s mission.

Rabbi Monty adheres to a popular form of interfaith Jewish wedding ceremony that he calls the “Officiant and Celebrant” model. Rabbi Monty conducts weddings in religiously neutral venues, and a meeting is required in order to cover all the aspects of a couple’s vision of their wedding ceremony. Rabbi Monty provides inquiring couples with a useful compilation of resources and information to better assist them in their planning for this most important day of their lives.

As a result of trailblazing a new ceremony particularly well suited to a whole range of family observances, from traditional to secular and in-between, Rabbi Monty is a popular rabbi for weddings in Austin, San Antonio and locations all around Texas.