Judaism has always been central to Rabbi Ballaban’s identity. Both of his parents are rabbis; thus, during his formative years, his family life consistently had a strong Jewish character. While growing up, he attended Jewish day school, participated in Jewish youth groups, and went to Jewish summer camps.
Eventually, that upbringing paid off: Rabbi Ballaban was ordained by Cincinnati's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in May of 2015. Soon afterward, he began serving as Rabbi-Educator at Dayton's Temple Beth Or, where he was named Assistant Rabbi two years later. In the spring of 2018, he was appointed the director of Dayton's Jewish Community Relations Council, in which capacity he worked for a year, focusing on strengthening connections between the Jewish community and other religious and cultural groups. In 2019, he began working as a representative of HUC-JIR’s admissions and recruitment department for the Midwest region.
Rabbi Ballaban is also in the process of finishing his PhD dissertation, on the intersection of humor and Jewish masculinity in Late Antiquity. He has taught courses on Judaism, Jewish texts, and Jewish history at the University of Dayton (as a Ruslander-Friedland Teaching Fellow), the University of Cincinnati (as a fellow of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati), and HUC-JIR (as one of HUC-JIR’s Jewish Intellectual History Fellows).
Rabbi Ballaban's greatest passions revolve around Jewish education and forging bonds between Jews and those of other minority and religious groups. He views Jewish education as a two-pronged need in 21st-century American society. He believes, on the one hand, that Jews must do a better job of educating themselves about the richness that their own culture possesses. However, he also holds a strong conviction that, were the lessons of Jewish ethics and history better communicated to a broader audience, such a change could help spread principles of pluralism and positive humanism sorely needed in our world. In the interest of such mutual growth and empowerment, Rabbi Ballaban considers the partnership of Jews with other historically marginalized groups one of today’s Jews’ most central moral imperatives, something critical to Judaism’s continued survival as a religion in the modern world.