REMEMBERING A DEAR FRIEND, THE OU TO HONOR MEMORY OF RABBI STEVEN DWORKEN Z”L AT OPENING SESSION OF NATIONAL CONVENTION, SATURDAY NIGHT, JANUARY 15 IN TEANECK
In December of 2002, Rabbi Steven Dworken z”l, in his role of Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America, addressed the Orthodox Union Biennial National Convention being held in Westchester County. As “the rabbi’s rabbi” and a beloved figure to the rabbis and OU family in attendance, his remarks were warmly received and listened to attentively.
Rabbi Dworken was known for providing advice to rabbis – many of them serving in OU-member synagogues – on a multitude of issues they faced, helping them to grow in their careers, deal with (sometimes critical) synagogue leaders and membership, negotiate compensation and benefits, and in general, face the around the clock pressures that make up the life of a pulpit rabbi.
Not long follwing his appearance, on January 13, 2003, Rabbi Dworken had passed away. The Orthodox world, including the OU, was in shock. As one of his friends stated, “I received a cell phone message from him the day he died. I can’t bring myself to erase the message.”
Three more Orthodox Union Conventions have passed, but when the OU convenes again on Saturday night, January 15, the 11th of Shevat, at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, the opening Convention session, “The Cost of Jewish Living,” will be dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Dworken. His yahrzeit is that evening.
OU Executive Vice President, Emeritus, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, who worked closely with Rabbi Dworken, will speak. Rabbi Weinreb declared, “Each Jewish leader has his distinct and leadership style. Rabbi Dworken led with his friendly smile, warm personality, and genuine concern for every one of his colleagues. I spoke with him by phone just hours before his sudden death. I assumed that I was one of the few who could make that claim, until I attended his funeral. There I encountered at least a dozen others with whom Steve, as we all called him, had conversed at length during those fateful final hours. He was literally ‘there’ for each of us, because he was a genuine friend to us all.”
The Convention program will read, “This session is dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Steven Dworken z”l”, former Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a warm and good friend of the Orthodox Union, whose yahrzeit is this evening.” It is signed by Nomi and Yechiel Rotbal and Family, Aliza and Jonathan Frohlich and Family, Shana and Arye Dworken and Family, and Susan Dworken Koss.
“As a concerned member of Klal Yisrael, a congregational rabbi, and as Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America, my father, zichrono l'vracha, appreciated the important role the OU plays in the development and stability of a vibrant Jewish community,” declared his daughter, Nomi Rotblat. “He was particularly proud of the partnership the OU had with the RCA, as together they empower rabbis and lay people to live and inspire the Torah way of life. Being a true ohev Yisrael and a pragmatic one at that, I am sure that my father would have been honored to be associated with a program that deals with the spreading and continuity of living the Torah way of life and the practicalities of making sure that this mission succeeds for the current generation and future generations.”
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