The Sephardic Community of Paramus (SCOP) welcomed its new rabbi just in time for the new year. Rabbi Aviram Biton, his wife, Shirel, and their baby daughter, Avigail, are looking forward to leading, and growing with, the community.
Prior to his start in the U.S., Rabbi Biton learned at Beit Midrash Sepharadi in Jerusalem. (Both the rabbi and his wife are Moroccan and were born and grew up in Israel.) The goal of the yeshiva is to ready its students for life as religious leaders all over the world. Upon moving to the States, the Bitons first settled in Ocean City, Maryland, where they lived for a year. After discovering that the community was mostly active during the summer, they moved to Connecticut in the hopes of finding a Sephardic community that was more active year-round.
After a year with the Sephardic community of West Hartford at Beit Mordechai, where Rabbi Biton worked in conjunction with Rabbi Eli Tal, the Bitons decided to move to Paramus, where they were warmly welcomed by the community.
“We’re really looking to enjoy it with everyone,” Rabbi Biton said about what he is most looking forward to as a part of the SCOP family. “We are looking to really enjoy Judaism––not just practice it. As a community, we want to be able to enjoy what we’re doing.”
Both the rabbi and his wife have an array of family-friendly plans already in the works for SCOP.
The rabbi started an organization in Connecticut called Jewish Experience–Keter Torah with Rabbi Tal that he is looking to continue in New Jersey. The goal of the organization is to make Judaism accessible for adults and young adults.
During Sukkot, the family held a small l’chaim in their sukkah. To celebrate Simchat Beit HaShoeva, the Bitons held a small falafel party in the SCOP sukkah. All falafel sandwiches were individually wrapped, and masks and social distancing were requested of participants.
Rabbi Biton is hoping to start different learning programs as well. Avot u’Banim is a program the rabbi started back in Connecticut that he hopes to continue here. Fathers and their sons will be invited to come learn b’chavruta at shul, each at his own level.
“We hope to keep both the children and their parents interested,” Rabbi Biton said. “The topic will change week to week.”
In addition to this weekly learning, the Bitons are looking forward to starting Sunday school programming for young children, and Hebrew language lessons for both children and adults.
Shirel, who has a knack for all things baking, photography and graphic design, is eager to start putting her skills to the test with a women’s hafrashat challah event. With a strong photography portfolio under her belt, she plans on using her skills to spread the word about the shul’s women’s mikvah, and to take photos of different community events.
“The mitzvah of mikvah is very important,” Shirel said. “I want to help women from this community and from other communities fulfill this mitzvah.”
The Bitons will also be implementing their medical equipment donation program, Yad Meir Refael, named after Rabbi Biton’s late grandfather. Those interested can either donate or borrow equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers and more. Those interested may visit jewishexperiencect.com/yad or call 860-713-1787. All equipment will be sanitized before reuse.
By Elizabeth Zakaim