Strengthening Our Communities

The OU Pepa and Rabbi Joseph Karasick Department of Synagogue & Community Services provides religious, educational, social, and operational support to synagogues and communities across North America. Regional Directors connect a robust network of rabbis and rebbetzins, executive directors, youth staff, and business experts who can share best practices and help communities thrive both spiritually and socially.

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Photo on left: Rabbi Moshe Weinberger and Rabbi Alan Kalinsky participate in Torah Los Angeles, the West Coast’s premier Torah-learning event held each December.
Photo on right: Young leaders collaborate on a project during the OU Visionary Forum, which taught participants, through design thinking methodologies, to impact both their local and global communities.
$800,000
secured through Homeland Security Grant applications written for synagogues
13,312
safety reflector belts distributed in memory of Dr. Richard Friedman z”l
121
communities have received the Nussach HaTefillah Aveil Kit
112
community ba’alei tefillah trained through the Yamim Noraim Ba’alei Tefillah Seminar

Synagogue Programming and Community Development

Regional Directors Connect Communities

Regional directors provide local, on-the-ground support to synagogues by assisting with strategic planning, leadership training, strengthening youth departments, and membership growth. Regional directors also serve as liaisons between synagogues in their area, other Orthodox communities across North America, and OU programs and services.

Homeland Security Grant Writing: Working to Keep Our Institutions Safe

The Homeland Security Grant Writing Initiative provides comprehensive grant writing and submission assistance to synagogues, resulting in over $800,000 in new security funding in 2019.

Equipping Synagogues with Tools for Success

The Department of Synagogue & Community Services provides an array of practical programs and services, including the OU’s Nussach HaTefillah: A Guide for Aveilim;a pre-high holidays ba’alei tefillah training program; a robust speakers’ bureau; graphic design templates; and a rich resource bank with content ranging from children’s programming ideas to legal and administrative needs.

Partnering to Certify Kallah Teachers

A joint venture between Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center, the OU, and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), this program was created to certify kallah teachers. Nishmat’s yoatzot halacha, rabbis, doctors, and other community professionals co-teach a 18-session webinar certification course. To date, thirty women have been certified, helping to ensure that brides and new couples are able to enter married life with confidence.

Bringing New Families to Growing Communities

Thousands of Jews looking for a welcoming, affordable Jewish community flocked to the biennial OU International Jewish Community Home & Job Relocation Fair, where they met representatives from over 63 thriving Orthodox communities across the United States and Israel. Bringing community-seekers and representatives together helps growing Jewish communities attract new members.

Educating the Decision-Makers

The OU provides robust networking and development opportunities for synagogue professionals including the OU National Synagogue Executive Directors Conference, a yearly summit for synagogue executives from across North America. The goal is to bring community leaders together to explore ways in which leaders can help shape synagogue policies in today’s ever-changing synagogue and community environments.

Empowering Young Professionals

In an effort to cultivate future community leaders, the OU Department of Synagogue & Community Services offers innovative leadership events tailored exclusively to young professionals. The array of programs includes guest speakers and peer networking, culminating in the flagship Visionary Forum, which took place this year in Los Angeles, CA.

Supporting Communities in Crisis

When a community crisis arises, the OU stands ready to marshal its significant resources and expertise to help those in need. Events like natural disasters or attacks on the Jewish community are quickly met with the OU’s support, as its extensive network of partner organizations springs into action to provide everything from mental health support to kosher food distribution. The OU has spearheaded communal responses after recent hurricanes and galvanized hundreds of communities to bolster their physical security in the aftermath of recent attacks.

Rabbanim from across North America participate in the Nathan and Louise Schwartz OU Rabbinic Retreat.
Yachad