North & South: Three Congregations in North America Join Orthodox Union Synagogue Network

20 Oct 2014

The Orthodox Union has announced that three congregations across the United States and Canada have been accepted as member synagogues and will immediately start enjoying the benefits of affiliation with the OU. The Young Israel of Teaneck (YIOT), New Jersey; Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem (TBDJ) of Montreal; and Congregation Dor Tikvah of Charleston, South Carolina, join hundreds of other OU synagogues throughout North America.

The announcement followed approval of the OU’s Synagogue Standards Commission, which acted on the recommendation of the organization’s Executive Committee.

Martin Nachimson, president of the Orthodox Union, explained, “The three synagogues want to be part of an active Jewish organization which can help their congregations and their communities grow. They are vibrant and growing shuls looking to the Orthodox Union to work with them.”

OU Executive Vice President Allen Fagin shared, “We are delighted to welcome Congregation Dor Tikvah, TBDJ of Montreal, and Young Israel of Teaneck as the newest members of the Orthodox Union synagogue network. Each of these outstanding institutions is making a profound impact on its community, and we look forward to continuing our active collaboration with them in the areas of programming; outreach; advocacy and synagogue operations.”

Rabbi Steven Weil, senior managing director of the Orthodox Union, expressed the unique characteristics each of the three communities has to offer: “Dor Tikvah of Charleston – led by Rabbi Michael Davies – is an engaging, thoughtful community that provides meaningful opportunities for Jews of all backgrounds. The passion, commitment and yearning for real spiritual growth, coupled with a friendly, hospitable shul, make Dor Tikvah an institution that will shape Charleston Jewry for decades to come.”

“The Young Israel of Teaneck is a great institution which will be one of the fastest growing shuls in America,” Rabbi Weil explained. “The quality of the families and the passion of the shul have made the Country Club neighborhood of Teaneck one of the most sought after communities in America for young Orthodox families to move into. We look forward to partnering with YIOT as they build American Orthodoxy.”

Rabbi Weil continued, “TBDJ is a warm dynamic shul that has active involvement from multiple generations working side by side building Montreal Jewry. Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz is beloved and has been there at the shul over the last number of decades. It is a real honor to partner with TBDJ and to welcome them to the OU Family.”

Rabbi Binyomin Krohn explained that the Young Israel of Teaneck chose to join the OU for several reasons: “Our desire to expand our programming and tap into the OU’s vast resources of programs and ideas, and as our youth population grows, being affiliated with NCSY, will help facilitate our expanded youth offerings. OU’s Synagogue Services offers extensive opportunities to bring in outside scholars to enhance our in-house adult-education program.”

Rabbi Krohn is the current rabbi at YIOT succeeding Rabbi Pinchas Weinberger, who now serves as Rabbi Emeritus. Rabbi Krohn was the former assistant rabbi at Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck and in Charleston, South Carolina as well. Besides his leadership on the pulpit, Rabbi Krohn currently serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County, a yeshiva high school for boys located in Teaneck.

Young Israel of Teaneck President Michael Wimpfheimer and Vice President Mark Zomick declared, “As part of the extended Bergen County community we wanted to join with all the other shuls in participating in community-wide programs. As we transition to our new rabbi we wanted to ensure “full-membership” in the growing Teaneck community and to allow our new rabbi expanded opportunities to tap into colleagues to gain experience and expertise.”

In Montreal, Congregation TBDJ’s Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz and President Judah Aspler said, “Congregation TBDJ sees in its OU affiliation an opportunity to both learn from peer synagogues, as well as to offer help. The goals of 21st century Orthodox synagogues often require new and innovative thinking, and marching to that end zone as a team is no doubt more effective than going solo. The OU’s Community Engagement and Synagogue Services group has proven to be the ideal coach and offensive coordinator for that drive.”

Rabbi Steinmetz and Mr. Aspler continued, “Rabbi Weil’s vast experience with these objectives and his deep understanding of the challenges that affect not only our future but our day-to-day work, have helped the TBDJ leadership focus on the right issues and ask itself the right questions. Likewise, the OU team led by Rabbi Judah Isaacs (Director of the OU’s Department of Community Engagement) and Yehuda Friedman (Associate Director of Synagogue Services) have shared with us a living playbook that contains the successes, failures, and learnings of other institutions such as ours.”

They concluded, “The ability to use the OU as a sounding board, and as a conduit to advisors and references that we could never pinpoint on our own, allows us to keep the ball moving forward rather than hitting avoidable blockers. Having access to these invaluable resources, as well as to NCSY, is why our OU affiliation is an integral part of Congregation TBDJ’s future.”

Down in South Carolina, Rabbi Michael Davies of Charleston’s Congregation Dor Tikvah commented, “I took it as a given that we would become an OU member synagogue as soon as I arrived in Charleston.  My family attended two of the most active OU synagogues on the East Coast; first, Ahavat Torah in Englewood (Rabbi Shmuel Goldin) and later Fair Lawn’s Shomrei Torah (Rabbi Benjamin Yudin).  I grew up in NCSY.  Every synagogue I interned in and my prior pulpit (as associate rabbi) at Beth Jacob in Oakland, CA, were OU synagogues.  So I know the OU’s reach, its depth, and the resources it brings to bear, especially for a smaller community like Charleston, and a new shul, like ours.  Since becoming a rabbi, I’ve had the chance to work with OU Advocacy, Synagogue Services, and to grow professionally with other colleagues and mentors, including Rabbi Weil.”

Congregation Dor Tikvah’s President Jonathan Zucker added, “As Dor Tikvah, and Jewish Charleston by extension continue to grow, we look forward to the support and partnership of the OU in helping us grow stronger, build better, and soar higher.”

Rabbi Judah Isaacs and Yehuda Friedman of OU’s Department of Community Engagement and Synagogue Services said in a joint statement, “The OU is honored to welcome the three synagogues as members of the OU Synagogue network. Belonging to the OU links members of Congregation Dor Tikvah, TBDJ, and Young Israel of Teaneck to a national network of Orthodox congregations and provides access to the various agencies of the OU, including NCSY, Yachad/National Jewish Council for Disabilities, OU Kosher, the Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus, OU Advocacy, the OU Job Board, and, of course, the Department of Community Engagement and Synagogue Services. We are grateful for the partnership with them and look forward to providing each synagogue’s leadership with meaningful tools and services to help strengthen congregational life.”