Rabbi Eli Broner, new 9th-grade dean, adds a face familiar from Hillel

Rabbi+Broner%2C+who%E2%80%99s+teaching+classes+this+year+in+grades+nine+and+12%2C++also+volunteers+as+chaplain+for+the+Beverly+Hills+Police+Department.

BP Photo by Eliana Kerendian

Rabbi Broner, who’s teaching classes this year in grades nine and 12, also volunteers as chaplain for the Beverly Hills Police Department.

By Molly Menashe, Torah Editor

Shalhevet’s newest rabbi, Rabbi Eli Broner, occupies the newly created position of Dean of Ninth Grade and looks to inspire students by making Judaism meaningful and “cool.” 

Rabbi Broner is also teaching ninth-grade Tanakh, ninth-grade advisory and 12th-grade Advanced Talmud. Before arriving at Shalhevet, he taught for 10 years at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, many of whose graduates have moved on to Shalhevet.

“I love teaching because I love being there to inspire, I love being there for somebody else, and I love being able to make Torah and Judaism meaningful, and dare I say, fun or cool,” said Rabbi Broner. 

Rabbi Broner grew up in New York, briefly lived on a kibbutz as a baby, and studied in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles and London, ultimately getting his rabbinic ordination in Sydney, Australia. 

He said that although education always came naturally to him, likely inherited from his father who was a longtime professor, he resented it when he started teaching at a Hebrew School at 15 years old. 

“I wasn’t looking at it as my passion…so I was resenting what I was doing,” Rabbi Broner said. 

After a conversation with a friend, he realized that his outlook was too negative, so he decided to transform his mindset.

I love teaching because it’s a chance to take a moment in time and, if done right, can last a lifetime.”

— Rabbi Eli Broner, Judaic Studies teacher and ninth-grade dean

 “I made a commitment to change my life, change how others view education, and to advocate for education, educators, and specifically Jewish education,” Rabbi Broner said. “Now I love teaching because it’s a chance to take a moment in time and, if done right, can last a lifetime.”

Rabbi Broner said his role as dean would be to support ninth-grade students by helping them navigate through their transition to high school and increase the grade’s cohesiveness. 

“Ninth grade is a pivotal year,” Rabbi Broner said in an interview last week. “Each individual is trying to figure out what it means to be a young adult.

“And on top of that, they’re coming in as groups, so we need to create a unique ruach for them,” he said, using the Hebrew word for spirit.

Since then, Rabbi Broner has been committed to furthering Jewish education. At Hillel he wrote the tefillah (prayer) curriculum and taught fifth- and sixth-grade Mishna as well as seventh and eighth-grade Tanach. He also held the positions of Director of Campus Life, Ombudsman, and Director of Safety and Security.

Before that, Rabbi Broner founded Conejo Jewish Day School in Agoura Hills in 2001 and taught at four other Jewish schools, including Sunday schools. Throughout his teaching career, he has taught every grade from first-12th and, including at Hillel most recently, he has taught both boys and girls, he said.

Rabbi Broner also volunteers as a chaplain for the Beverly Hills Police Department. To him, his work as a chaplain is not only a way to help the community but also a way to expose non-Jewish policemen to Jews in order to debunk any negative stereotypes they may have, educate them about Judaism, and teach them lessons about overall religious diversity.

In his spare time, Rabbi Broner enjoys woodworking, cooking and collecting stamps. He has five children, ages of ten and 20, including a daughter currently enlisting in the IDF.  

At Shalhevet so far, Rabbi Broner said he loves working with his former students from his time at Hillel. 

“There’s a familiarity, but at the same time I get to see them in a whole new light and environment with new subject matter,” Rabbi Broner said. “I really get to see where they’ve grown.”