This past Shabbos, I attended the most recent OU Community Weekend in Florida. This round included the Boca Raton Synagogue, Anshei Chesed (in Boynton Beach), the Palm Beach Synagogue, the Young Israel of Deerfield Beach, Beth Israel Congregation (in Miami Beach), the Young Israel of Hollywood, and the Young Israel of Bal Harbour. (Actually, the OU Community Weekend in Palm Beach will be held the weekend of March 4, but it is still part of this program.)
The weekend started Thursday night when Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb and I presented a program on “The Greatest Challenges and Opportunities Facing the Orthodox Community in 21st Century.” On Friday, representatives of the IPA and Synagogue Services staff met with rabbis and schools in each of the host communities.
On Shabbos, each community hosted scholars and guests from Synagogue Services,NCSY, IPA, OU Kosher and elsewhere about the OU. Scholars-in-residence included OU Chairman of the Board Stephen J. Savitsky, NCSY International Director Rabbi Steven Burg, IPA Director Nathan Diament, Rabbinic Coordinator Rabbi Dovid Jenkins, Rabbi Weinreb and myself; each scholar presented on a topic of interest selected by their host community.
The weekend culminated on Sunday with a marriage program entitled “Super Marriages on Super Sunday.” (Don’t worry – it was over long before the game began!) This presentation featured professionals Aliza Schulman, LCSW and Raphael Wald, PhD.
Synagogue Services has run a number of these community weekends to date. This is the second to be held in Florida, incorporating a growing number of communities. Kudos go to Associate Director of Synagogue Services Laya Pelzner and her team, Yehuda Friedman, Alison Barnett and, in particular, Project Coordinator Penny Pazornick, who spearheaded this event.