A West Orange synagogue has eight reasons to kvell, as eight of its young men celebrated their ordination as rabbis at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.
The men, seven of whom grew up at Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob & David and one who serves on its staff, joined an unusually large rabbinic class at the Orthodox seminary, and a record cohort of AABJ&D musmachim, or ordainees.
“We’ve never had this many at a time before,” said Anne Goldberg, executive director of the 450-member synagogue. “I think this is really momentous. It says a lot for our community. We’re a good size, but we’re not that big. To have eight people participating is quite an achievement for us.”
She also pointed out that if you include the sons-in-law of members of the congregation who received ordination but who may live elsewhere (including her own son, who lives in Teaneck), the number grows even larger.
“We all share the naches together,” she said.
The eight men celebrated their ordination on March 7 at the seminary’s Chag HaSmicha, or Celebration of Ordination, which honors rabbis who have received ordination during the previous four years.
Rabbis Dovid Asher, Uri Feintuch, Rami Goldberg, David Goldfischer, Yair Hindin, Shimshon Jacob, and Jeremy Schwarzbaum all grew up at AABJ&D.
Rabbi Asher Klein, the eighth musmach, is the congregation’s assistant rabbi.
All but two of the men spent the Shabbat preceding the Chag HaSmicha at AABJ&D and shared the Shabbat afternoon meal together with their families. (Dovid Asher and Rami Goldberg were unable to participate.)
AABJ&D celebrated through Shabbat with scholar-in-residence Rabbi Michael Rosensweig, rosh kollel (dean) of the Israel Henry Beren Institute for Higher Talmudic Studies at RIETS.
This year’s ordainees far outpaced those of previous cohorts, not only at AABJ&D but around the country, said Hedy Shulman, director of media relations at YU. There were over 200 ordainees in 2010, compared to 184 at the last Chag HaSmicha, held in 2006.
“That was the largest class as well. The numbers keep going up,” said Rabbi Elly Krimsky, director of RIETS rabbinic alumni. He attributed the growth to Yeshiva University’s new president, Rabbi Richard Joel, who took the helm in 2003 and revamped the rabbinical school curriculum. Krimsky said the new curriculum, with a focus on pastoral counseling and other “21st-century needs,” may be more attractive to Orthodox students considering the rabbinate.
Krimsky also pointed to the increasing focus on investing in Jewish education in the general Jewish population. All rabbinical students at RIETS are on scholarship. “So more resources means we are able to produce more rabbis,” said Krimsky.
Three Teaneck synagogues, Congregations B’nai Yeshurun, Rinat Yisrael, and Beth Aaron, accounted for 24 of the new rabbis.