The OU was privileged to host Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Senior Rabbi of OU-member synagogue Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun (KJ) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Rabbi Lookstein is one of the most significant personalities in modern Jewish life. In his visit to the OU, he met with staff and discussed his 55 years as a pulpit rabbi.
Rabbi Lookstein reminisced about his years in the rabbinate. He followed his late father, Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein ztz”l, as Senior Rabbi in 1979 after having served as his father’s assistant rabbi since 1958. He also served for years as the head of Ramaz, the yeshiva named after his grandfather-in-law, Rabbi Moses Zevulun Margolies ztz”l, and he continues to teach a course for all sophomores on Jewish sexual ethics. Rabbi Lookstein was active in the Soviet Jewry movement and taught himself Yiddish in order to be able to communicate with the Jews when he went to the Soviet Union.
In his talk and the following question-and-answer session, Rabbi Lookstein described the maturing process of a young rabbi, particularly about sermons and when not to give them – such as 11:25 on Shabbos morning. He also discussed the influence of the Rav, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik ztz”l, on his life and work. He expressed his confidence in the future of centrist Orthodoxy and his firm belief that the affordability issue of yeshiva education will be dealt with, in part through philanthropy.