web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

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.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Resnick-013015-Pilot

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.”

Resnick-012315-Artist

Nouril concluded he had no choice: He had to become more observant.

I was very pro-Israel, I was very proud of being Jewish, and I was living in New York at the time as a single man in my 20s and I was just looking for a little bit more.

A school voucher means the state is giving you a voucher to send your kid to whatever school you want. That might be problematic as far church-state issues are concerned.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

To many Orthodox Jews the issue is “Permitted & Prohibited;” “Right & Wrong” barely considered,

You can’t say “Jewish French,” “Jewish British,” “Jewish Italian.” They are “French Jews,” “British Jews,” and “Italian Jews” – because they’re seen as Jews first and residents or citizens of their countries second.

Another thing they have been covering up is the nature of the building that was attacked. To this day people refer to it as a consulate or an embassy, but it wasn’t.

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: