Communities Worldwide Turn to YU’s Center for the Jewish Future When Looking to Hire a Rabbi

Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg directs the Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement at the Center for the Jewish Future.

Dec 10, 2008 — With Jewish communities emerging throughout the U.S. and across the globe, the need for qualified rabbis and educators has grown. The search for a suitable rabbi often can be a daunting task.

Serving as the community arm of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), Yeshiva University’s (YU) Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) assists congregations, schools, organizations and communities in their search for rabbis. For over a century, RIETS, the Western hemisphere’s leading center for Torah learning, has trained over 2,700 of the world’s most distinguished Orthodox rabbis, scholars and teachers.

“We’ve place hundreds of rabbis over the years,” said Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg, director of the Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement at CJF. “With our talented pool of RIETS and Rabbinical Council of America rabbis we are able to match communities with candidates who are best prepared to meet their needs.”

Rabbi Moshe Davis, a Yeshiva University and RIETS graduate, began serving as an assistant rabbi of Houston’s United Orthodox Synagogues in August after working with CJF’s Rabbinic Placement Office. “They demonstrated keen, hands-on knowledge of many of the Jewish communities across America,” said Rabbi Davis of CJF staff. “I felt that I had people advocating on my behalf.”

Rabbi Chaim Strauchler, spiritual leader of Shaarei Shomayim, a 700-family member congregation in Toronto, credits RIETS and CJF for where he is today. “My experience at RIETS gave me the basic skills that are crucial to my work as a teacher of Torah,” said the former Rhodes Scholar. “The exposure to the personalities of both chaverim [friends] and rabbanim have guided my work as a communal rabbi.”

As for the process, “the CJF served as the shadchan [matchmaker] to connect me with Shaarei Shomayim,” said Rabbi Strauchler. “They were involved in every step of the process, providing advice from the interview stage through the contract phase and beyond. My family and I love our community and our shul.”

Another YU graduate, Rabbi Elchanan Jay Weinbach, approached CJF with a somewhat complex request: “Find me a position that will allow me to do something truly meaningful for the world of Jewish education.” In a short time, CJF approached Rabbi Weinbach about Shalhevet School in Los Angeles.

“Throughout the challenging process, Rabbi Schwarzberg and his staff were there to lend support and advice,” said Rabbi Weinbach, who now serves as the head of school at Shalhevet. “Thanks to the support from YU and CJF, my wife Yocheved [Stern College for Women ’89] and I are living the Jewish educator’s dream.”

Rabbi Zvi Engel recently began serving as rabbi of Congregation Or Torah in Skokie, IL. “The Rabbinic Placement Office gave me a high level of confidence in their ability to shepherd me throughout the entire search process,” said Rabbi Engel. “They guided me towards congregations that were appropriate for me and my family.”

CJF Rabbinic Programming follows rabbis into the field, encouraging professional growth, providing guidance and counsel, and supporting the personal development and wellbeing of rabbis and their wives. An array of such programs are provided by the Legacy Heritage Fund Rabbinic Enrichment Initiative (LHREI), including skills building, seminars, conferences, Web resources and tools for networking. LHREI is generously supported by Legacy Heritage Fund Limited.

“The CJF has remained in constant contact with me,” said Rabbi Strauchler. “I have benefited from a close connection with Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, who has given so much to young rabbis through the LHREI Yarchei Kallah program,” he said, referring to YU’s University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and senior scholar at CJF.

David Nadler, head of Shaarei Shomayim’s rabbi search committee, was pleased with CJF’s efforts throughout the process. “Rabbi Schwarzberg and his staff started by visiting Toronto for a day of meetings with rabbis, community leaders and the search committee,” said Nadler. “They vetted all the candidates and allowed our shul to have finalists that represented the elite of RIETS. We are very pleased with the results of our search. ”

To find out more information about CJF’s Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement, contact jcareerplacement@yu.edu or visit www.yu.edu/cjf.

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