Meet the Rabbi & Rebbetzin

Rabbi Ken Brodkin

Rabbi Ken Brodkin is the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Manalapan NJ. Rabbi Brodkin has dedicated his rabbinate to welcoming Jews of all backgrounds to the community and helping them along their Jewish journey. Rabbi Brodkin, who began his tenure at CBI in August 2022, is excited about connecting with the Jewish community of central Jersey.

Rabbi Brodkin was hired by the Shul to help lead CBI’s transition to full Orthodox affiliation. Since beginning at the synagogue in August, he has revitalized programming, and launched a rebrand aimed at helping the synagogue get its message out to a broader audience. He looks forward to partnering with the Board in the next phases of community development and growth.

Rabbi Brodkin is also passionate about helping people access the wisdom of Judaism and apply it to their daily lives. His weekly podcast, “The Jewish Growth Podcast”, focuses on personal growth through Torah, and is available wherever you listen to podcasts. The rabbi is enthusiastic about making Tanach and Jewish thought widely accessible through his teachings. You can follow him on Twitter, @rabbikenbrodkin.

Prior to his arrival in Manalapan, Rabbi Brodkin served as rabbi of Congregation Kesser Israel in Portland, Oregon for 17 years. As rabbi of Kesser, Rabbi Brodkin led multiple community development initiatives, including relocating the synagogue into the heart of the Jewish community. In 2011, he founded Maayan Torah Day School for local families and children. Prior to his years in Portland, he was a member of the TORCH (Torah Outreach Resource Center) faculty in Houston, Texas.

Originally from Massachusetts, Rabbi Brodkin received a BA in History from Brandeis University. He studied at Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Jerusalem prior to receiving Semicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg and Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz. The Rabbi is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America. He maintains an active involvement in the study of many facets of Torah, including Jewish thought, Tanach & Halacha.

Rabbi Brodkin loves spending time with his wife Aviel and their seven children and granddaughter. The rabbi enjoys jogging, the outdoors and hiking, and is an avid American history buff.

Rebbetzin Aviel Brodkin

Aviel Brodkin grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, as part of a growing warm Jewish community. Those Jewish sparks planted a deep love for being a Rebbetzin and synagogue life. After studying in Israel and combining her passions for Torah learning and child development, she married Rabbi Ken Brodkin. They began their journey strengthening communities through Jewish education. Aviel has served as a Jewish day school principal for over a decade and is currently the General Studies Principal at Shaarei Tzion in Piscataway, NJ. Yet, she feels most natural in her role as Rebbetzin, “It’s a great privilege for me to be integrally connected to the people in my shul – as a friend, mentor, confidant, a comforting shoulder to lean on, or catching up over coffee. Community is about friendship!” She is a passionate teacher of Torah, synthesizing Jewish wisdom with personal meaning for navigating life. Whether as a mother, community leader, or educator, her greatest sense of joy is helping people make meaningful steps to living a fulfilling Jewish life. 

Rabbi Emeritus Robert Pilavin

Rabbi Robert Pilavin is our Rabbi Emeritus having served our synagogue from 2002 until his retirement in the summer of 2022. He holds the distinction of being our longest serving rabbi. Upon retirement, the Pilavins moved to a new home in Highland Park, NJ.

A native of Boston, Rabbi Robert S. Pilavin is a 1978 graduate of Brandeis University majoring in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies.  His initial rabbinical ordination was from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1984), where he also pursued doctoral studies in Jewish Liturgy.  Rabbi Pilavin received a traditional semichah (rabbinic ordination) from the Institute of Traditional Judaism (Teaneck, NJ) in 2004.

Rabbi Pilavin has served as Rabbi in Poughkeepsie, NY (1984-86), Fresh Meadows Jewish Center in Queens (1986-87) and the Jewish Community Center of Spring Valley, NY (1987-2003).  He has also served on the boards of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, the Rockland Institute for Special Education (Yeshivat Ohr V’Daas), and the Union for Traditional Judaism and been a member of the Editorial Board of the Rockland Jewish Reporter and past president of the Rockland Board of Rabbis.  He is immediate past president of MORASHAH, the rabbinic arm of the Union for Traditional Judaism.

Rabbi Pilavin is married to Maxine, a former school librarian and middle school language arts/social studies teacher.  They are blessed with three children: Channah (married to David), Moshe and Sara (married to Asher).  They are the proud grandparents of  two grandsons, Gil and Shai.