What We Do…
The Department of Community Engagement provides vision, leadership, and programmatic support to Orthodox communities and congregations throughout North America. Our goal is to strengthen our communities, member congregations, and their constituencies, by providing religious, educational, social, and cultural programming on relevant and timely issues that impact upon the lives of individuals and families. We are readily available to provide an array of programming, design and promotional services to implement cohesive and successful programs or give support and guidance to help communities present their own events.
New! Check us out on Youtube! www.youtube.com/user/OUCommunityServices
Who We Are…
Rabbi Adir Posy
Director, Department of Synagogue & Community Services
The former Assistant Director of OU West Coast, Rabbi Adir Posy was recently appointed to OU Regional Director of Western States. The region includes Texas through Alberta, Canada and as far east as Missouri. Rabbi Posy, who also serves as Associate Rabbi at Beth Jacob Congregation in Los Angeles, is a father of six and is keenly interested in the intersection of medicine and Halacha and the construction of community eruvin.
Rabbi Alan Kalinsky
Director, OU West Coast
Rabbi Alan Kalinsky serves as both a mentor to rabbis and a liaison to Orthodox Union member congregations on the west coast. In addition to his organizational and administrative work with the OU, Rabbi Kalinsky has served as a Rabbinic Field Representative for the OU Kashrut Division for more than 30 years.
Previously, Rabbi Kalinsky officiated in several congregations on the East Coast, and most recently, served as the Rabbi of the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills.
In 2002 Rabbi Kalinsky retired from the US Air Force Reserve with the rank of Lt. Colonel, having served as a Chaplain for 28 years.
Rebbetzin Judi Steinig
Director of Community Programs
Rebbetzin Judi Steinig works with communities throughout North America providing resources for communal growth as well as coordinating programming for various demographics. She has lectured in many venues on topics concerning women, family, parenting, and singles issues. She was Director of Programming for National Council of Young Israel prior to joining the OU and is an Instructor for Bellevue University. She graduated from Douglass College, Rutgers University with a BA in Mathematics. She earned an MA in Leadership from Bellevue University and certificates in Non-for-Profit Management from Touro College, Desktop Publishing from Queens College and Life Coaching from Bellevue University. She and her husband, Rabbi Sholom Steinig, of the Young Israel of Bayside, have four children and six grandchildren.
Rabbi Yehuda Friedman
Associate Director, Synagogue Services
Regional Director for Long Island & Queens
Rabbi Yehuda Friedman serves as the Associate Director for the Department of Synagogue Services and Regional Director of Long Island and Queens Synagogues. In his capacity, Yehuda provides guidance and best practices to Synagogues Rabbis, Presidents, Boards and Executive Directors to strengthen synagogue life. Yehuda studied at Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim in Beit Shemesh, Israel and was ordained by Yeshiva Bnei Torah Seminary in Far Rockaway, NY. Prior to joining the OU, Yehuda was an associate at a major investment bank and holds a BS in marketing and Management from Touro College. He serves on the board of the Genesis Center-Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim and the Religious Zionists of America. He and his wife Lori live in West Hempstead, NY with their two children. Follow Yehuda on Twitter! @YehudaJFriedman
Rabbi Avi Heller
Regional Director for New Jersey and Rockland County
Originally from Denver, Colorado, Rabbi Avi Heller has been the Director of Education for the Manhattan Jewish Experience for the last six years. Prior to that, he co-directed the OU’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Boston University. He has also served as the Director of the Boca Raton Community Kollel, the Rabbi of the BRS West Synagogue and the Bronfman Fellow at Hillel International. He received his BA from Boston University, semicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and also completed his MA in Tanach from the Bernard Revel School of Graduate Studies.
He is passionate about teaching and inspiring Jews of all kinds. Rabbi Heller views synagogues as an integral way in which Jewish communities gather to not only learn and pray together, but to draw inspiration and share a vision of Jewish life. His goal as a Regional Director is to bring together, grow and leverage this network of shuls to strengthen them individually and as a whole under the OU umbrella.
He and his wife Shira live in Teaneck, NJ with their three children.
Naftali grew up in Suffern, NY, where he attended Congregation Bais Torah, led by Rabbi Berel Wein. Naftali credits his family and community in veering his interest towards communal work. With a background in social work, he previously worked at the OU’s office in New York for a number of years as the Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for Yachad.
As the Southeast Regional Director, Naftali works closely with the region’s synagogue rabbinic and lay leadership, as well as local federations and Jewish organizations to connect, network and develop meaningful relationships and provide resources.
Naftali and his wife Shani live in Boca Raton and are members of the Boca Raton Synagogue, an OU-member shul.
Regional Director for Western States
Solly Hess is a dynamic communal professional with extensive experience in leadership development and community engagement. Solly makes his return to the OU after serving as the Major Gifts Director at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.
Solly’s previous work with the OU includes running West Coast NCSY. During his time as Regional Director, he helped revitalize the west coast region, expand the reach of the organization’s brand, and establish a culture of fervent and active Jewish life among a diverse community of students, parents, and lay leaders.
Rabbi Karesh was born and raised on the north side of Chicago. He attended schools locally and continued on to pursue a Bachelors of Biology at Yeshiva University, EMT Certification in the State of NY, a Masters in Educational Administration at Loyola University School of Education in Chicago, and studied for the Rabbinate in Israel for three years.
R’ Karesh, who is also a Mohel, comes to this department from NCSY where he has been working with both the Alumni and leadership development teams.
Rabbi Shaffer received his Smicha (Rabbinic Ordination) from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University and a Masters in Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University.
Upon completion of his Rabbinical studies, Yeshiva University recognized his promising talents and awarded him a two-year Fellowship focusing on Rabbinic Leadership & Entrepreneurship, training him to be a community leader prepared for the opportunities of the 21st century.
In addition to his position at the OU, Rabbi Shaffer is the Rabbi of PJC, a young & growing Jewish community in Pikesville, Maryland. He has been the Assistant Rabbi of Ohab Zedek, NYC, assistant Rabbi of The Hampton Synagogue, NY, Assistant Director of Institutional Advancement at Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership and the Director of Education for New Jersey NCSY. Rabbi Shaffer is thrilled to be working in the Midatlantic region to facilitate the sharing of communal best practices, and bringing the resources of the OU to the great Jewish communities of this area.
Rabbi Shaffer’s thoughts on parsha, parenthood and contemporary topic can be found on his twitter handle: @yechields.
Rabbi Gedalyah Berger
Adult Education Coordinator
Rabbi Gedalyah Berger recently joined the Orthodox Union as Adult Education Coordinator in the Deptartment of Synagogue Services; before joining the OU, he served for 15 years as Rabbi of Fleetwood Synagogue in Mount Vernon, NY. Rabbi Berger serves as a Ra”M in the Graduate Program for Women in Advanced Talmudic Studies at Yeshiva University, and as a maggid shi’ur at the Yo`etzet Halakhah program of Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center
Rabbi Berger graduated from Yeshiva College in 1994 with a B.A. in physics, studied for three years at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel under the tutelage of HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l, received his semikhah from RIETS in 1998, and was a fellow of RIETS’s Bella and Harry Wexner Kollel Elyon. He was Northeast Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America from 2013-2015, and currently serves on the RCA’s Executive Committee. He is a Halakhic Consultant for Yesh Tikva, an infertility support organization. Rabbi Berger and his wife Miriam are the proud parents of Shoshana, Racheli, Sheindl, Baruch Meir, and Shira.
Alyson Papir serves as the Special Project and Program Coordinator of Synagogue Services at the OU.