Rabbi Hanan Balk, Rabbi Emeritus is a respected leader of the Cincinnati Jewish community, whose 24 years of service to the Golf Manor Synagogue has led to a blossoming of Torah learning and Torah living, both inside the congregation and beyond.
Rabbi Balk received his B.A. from Columbia University in Ancient Studies, his M.A. in Religion and Education from Columbia's Teachers College, and his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. Formerly the rabbi of the Young Israel of Stamford, Ct., under whose leadership the congregation built its first synagogue, he has contributed articles to halachic journals, periodicals, and books and has served as scholar-in-residence and guest speaker on the campus of several universities and in numerous congregations. Rabbi Balk's many lectures, which address numerous themes, may be found on the website of Yeshiva University as well as the synagogue's website. He has also lectured to rabbinic colleagues at the conventions of the Rabbinical Council of America.
Fully dedicated to outreach, Rabbi Balk has delivered numerous shiurim on a wide range of topics and sources, in such varied environs as the JCC, downtown law offices, hospitals, and businesses. All of his classes have always been equally open to men and women. As a beloved teacher in the Melton School of Adult Jewish Education, Rabbi Balk was selected to occupy the Roslyn W. Gildenblatt Chair of Jewish Studies. Some of the congregation's most devoted families entered the synagogue through their studies with Rabbi Balk. For many years, he also taught Torah on the radio, hosting "Religion on the Line," a two hour talk show on Cincinnati's CBS affiliate.
A member of The Council of Jewish Federations National Rabbinic Cabinet and a recipient of the Cincinnati Jewish Federation"s Rabbinic Service Award, Rabbi Balk has chaired the Federation's Super Sunday and has served on many of its committees. He was very involved in the resettlement of New Americans and the effort to provide them with a Jewish education, and was recognized for his work at a Council of Jewish Federations General Assembly in San Francisco, where he spoke on that subject.
Rabbi Balk has been honored both locally, by the congregagtion, and nationally, as the recipient of a National Rabbinic Service Award at the Union of Orthodox Congregation's National Centennial Rabbinic Award Dinner in New York. He was chosen as one of one hundred and twenty religious leaders and eighteen rabbis to attend President Clinton's annual Prayer Breakfast. He and his wife Barbara were also guests of President Bush at The White House Chanukah Celebration, and the rabbi was again invited to The White House by President Bush five months later for National Prayer Day.
Rabbi Balk was the chairman of the Vaad Harabbanim (Rabbincal Council of Cincinnati) as well as the chairman the Vaad Hachinuch (Rabbinic Advisory Committee) of The Cincinnati Hebrew Day School for 18 years. He is a founding member of the Beit Din of Cincinnati, which oversees the halachic standards of such community organizations, institutions, and rituals as the Mikvah, the Chevra Kaddisha, the Cincinnati Hebrew Day School, the Vaad Hoier, Kashrut, Conversions, Divorces, civil disputes, as well as all other matters of Jewish law that relate to the community. He has been a featured speaker at community events, rallies for Israel, and memorial services for the victims of The Persian Gulf War and 9/11.
The rabbi is also an accomplished baal tefilla who serves as the congregation's hazzanfor the High Holidays and for other occasions throughout the year. The Rabbinical Council of America selected him to recite the memorial prayer annually at its covention in New York, for all rabbinic colleagues who have passed on in the previous year. The rabbi also has performed in concert with world renowned cantor, Yaakov Motzen, and the internationally acclaimed Moscow Jewish Choir.
Rabbi Balk is extremely proud of the the spiritual atmosphere of the davening that is maintained in his synagogue. He takes pride in the fact that the shul is characterized by an openess to all who enter its doors, and therefore attracts both seasoned Torah scholars, those who are only beginning their journey towards a Torah life, as well as many who seek to convert to the Jewish faith. He is constantly impressed by the boundless acts of chesedthat are performed by so many members of his congregation and community.
"The most meaningful experiences that I have had as a rabbi," he reflects, "are those that have allowed me to have a real impact upon a person's life, be it through a speech, a class, making a shidduch, or in helping a person get through a life crisis. I am deeply thankful to the Ribono shel Olam for giving me so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others."
Rabbi Balk is married to Barbara, a Judaic specialist at the Jewish Community Center. They are the parents of five daughters.