web analytics
May 25, 2015 / 7 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


‘We Want To Return Young Israel To Its Roots’: An Interview with Rabbi Perry Tirschwell

Rabbi Perry Tirschwell

Rabbi Perry Tirschwell

“We’re a victim of our own success,” said Rabbi Perry Tirschwell, Rabbi Pesach Lerner’s successor as executive director of the National Council of Young Israel. “The reason it’s called Young Israel is because it was started by young people 100 years ago who weren’t connecting to the shuls because the speeches were in Yiddish and the shuls were recreations of Galicia, Lithuania, Romania, and Hungary.”

These young American-born Jews, Rabbi Tirschwell said, “created a different type of shul – a shul where there was singing, a shul where the rabbi spoke in English, and a shul where there was social programming.” But with nearly all community synagogues now featuring many of the components that Young Israel once championed, what is the purpose of the organization today?

The Jewish Press spoke with Rabbi Tirschwell about this topic, among others.

The Jewish Press: What’s your vision for Young Israel? What is its purpose as we enter 2014?

Rabbi Tirschwell: We want to return to our mission of servicing synagogues and inspiring people in their 20s and 30s. We’re going to bring Young Israel back to its roots because you have a whole generation of singles living in Manhattan who are not really connecting religiously after they’ve left college or yeshiva.

Aren’t there already organizations and shuls that cater to the singles crowd?

There are definitely efforts, but it’s not nearly enough. Leaving Yeshiva University aside, you have 1,500 singles in Washington Heights. There are four, five, six times that number on the West Side. The numbers are overwhelming. Some shuls try to reach out to them, but there are so many and they’re transient. You can’t blame the shuls for not investing a lot in them because many of them don’t pay membership. They belong to the “free generation.” Also, their goal is to get out. They don’t want to stay in Manhattan. They want to get married and move to the suburbs.

So I think the shuls need a lot more help.

What kinds of things do you have in mind?

We want to hire couples who are going to reach out to singles to become their spiritual leaders and introduce them to someone of the opposite gender because there’s a lot of casual relationships but not nearly enough serious dating going on. This generation – even if they had rebbeim in yeshiva or seminary – they’re not connected anymore. There isn’t really anyone looking out for them at this point.

There are outreach organizations in Manhattan focused on inspiring people who did not grow up in the Orthodox world, but there’s not really anyone who’s trying to deal with the frum-from-birth singles.

What other ideas do you have to help these singles?

These young professionals – you’re talking about people in their 20s and 30s who are building up their careers now – don’t have a lot of free time during the week, so it really revolves around Shabbos: onegs, meals, and then personal relationships will come out of that.

But Young Israel is a synagogue service organization, so our first and foremost focus will be helping shuls be the most they can be – helping them cut costs, run more inspirational programs, reach their youth better, etc….

Thirty or forty years ago, people’s charitable dollars generally went to the synagogue. That switched over at a certain point and the focal point of the community became day schools. People are very concerned about their children. But when these kids grow up, their connection [to Judaism] is going to be through a shul. It’s not going to be through learning, it’s going to be through davening, and I think we’ve sort of missed the boat on that. We need to make shuls more inspirational and help them reach more people.

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “‘We Want To Return Young Israel To Its Roots’: An Interview with Rabbi Perry Tirschwell

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Future guard? Arab child with Hamas headband aims toy rifle on the Temple Mount after prayers in the Al Aqsa mosque.
Hamas Declares Jerusalem ‘Eternal Capital’ of Islamic World
Latest Indepth Stories
Israeli-flag

U.S and European demands for the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank is world hypocrisy.

Harris-052215

We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.

Shalev and Rabbi Levinger

During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai

MK Moshe-Feiglin

20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse

Connecting Bamidbar&Shavuot is simple-A world without Torah is midbar; with Torah a blessed paradise

Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting

She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes

Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times

Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program

“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me

Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.

The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.

The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.

“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Dr. Phyllis Chesler

Jews are an anxious group – understandably, given the millennia of persecution – and want to have no trouble.

Dr. Michael Berenbaum

Why do Jews, then, sometimes feel more intensely about Polish anti-Semitism than they do about German anti-Semitism?

Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]

You have to understand that Ukraine was really a very, very Jewish place for many years.

What I think is going on here is the Midrash is making a comment about Rut’s love for Naomi being some sort of reflection of how we have to love God.

HarperCollins’s omission was especially egregious because it is a major general and educational publisher.

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/we-want-to-return-young-israel-to-its-roots-an-interview-with-rabbi-perry-tirschwell/2014/01/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: