Author: Stephen J. Savitsky

Looking Back, Looking Forward

For the last six years, I have considered myself to be the most fortunate Jew in the world. During these years, I’ve had the great privilege to be president of what I believe is the most important Orthodox Jewish organization. There is no organization like the Orthodox Union (OU) that is involved on a daily […]

A World of Jewish Resources in One Tiny Symbol

As North American Jews living in the twenty-first century, we take the widespread availability of kosher food for granted. We are accustomed to walking into a typical supermarket and finding that more than 50 percent of the products are certified kosher. We at the Orthodox Union are proud that our organization is at the forefront […]

Building a Bridge to Achdus, One Article at a Time

Several months ago I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful individual: Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, executive vice president and Torah editor of the Jewish weekly magazine Mishpacha. In our discussion, Rabbi Frankfurter mentioned that he was in the process of writing a cover story about our very own Rav Hershel Schachter, shlita, halachic posek for […]

Ethics in the Boardroom

During the past year, the Jewish world has been rocked by devastating news about financial improprieties. We have watched in horror as the story of Bernie Madoff unfolded; while not observant himself, Madoff clearly identified with the Jewish people. On television, we have seen images of Orthodox Jews—including rabbis, lay leaders and prominent business people—being […]

An Agenda for the Year Ahead

As we approach the Yamim Noraim, we are obligated to contemplate the events of the past year and to formulate a strategy for the coming year. This takes place on the organizational as well as on the individual level. Here at the Orthodox Union (OU), we are unfortunately undergoing a painful evaluation process. In light […]

The Changing of the Guard

Change, the theme of the Obama administration, is inevitable. Indeed, it’s been said that the only thing that’s constant in life is change. Organizations choose to make changes for many reasons, but sadly, challenging the status quo is often a painful and divisive process. At the Orthodox Union (OU), we are very fortunate to be […]

A Private Conversation with My Kaddish

Written on the last day of aveilut for my father, Jerry J. Savitsky (Yoel ben Avraham), who passed away on daled Shevat 5752 (January 9, 1992). And now my trusted friend and companion let me go, After one long and difficult year, it is time for us to part. You were my shadow, never leaving […]

The Economic Tsunami

We are witnessing a tsunami in the economic world the likes of which America has not witnessed in decades. It appears that there are no safe havens and that just when we think we’ve hit rock bottom, a new dimension of the crisis unfolds, hurtling us further downward. I know of no Jewish organization that […]

The Journey Ahead

I am extremely grateful to the officers and the Board of Directors of the Orthodox Union (OU) for re-electing me to my third (and constitutionally last) term as OU president. I feel blessed every day that I have the opportunity to lead this most magnificent organization. It is now four years since I assumed the […]

A Tale of Two Logos

Why would an organization with the most familiar logo in the Jewish world want to change it? That’s what many people wanted to know when they heard that the Orthodox Union (OU) was introducing a new logo. But the OU is emphatically not changing its famed kashrut certification mark——which was created eighty years ago to […]

Something for Everyone

As we approach the summer season, we begin thinking about our vacation plans. While for most people summer is an opportunity to relax, smell the roses and wind down, at the Orthodox Union (OU), we never sleep. Every season is our busy season, every week is a busy week, and it seems like we never […]

Keeping Jerusalem Ours

As I write this column, I am thinking about a Jewish historian, not yet born, who years from now will be looking through copies of Jewish Action to determine the issues that were relevant to the Jewish community at the beginning of the twenty-first century. If by some chance he reads this article, he will […]

Touring Jewish America

Ever since I assumed the presidency of the Orthodox Union in November 2004, one of my major priorities has been the growth and development of smaller Jewish communities. I vividly remember the speech I gave on this theme at our Biennial National Convention in Jerusalem as I assumed office. Later that night, I participated in […]

Embarking Upon Change

Soul searching can, at times, be a difficult process. But we are fortunate that Hashem gives us the ability to cleanse ourselves once a year and to start anew with a fresh balance sheet. From time to time organizations, too, must look themselves squarely in the eye and decide what they are and where they […]

Making Welcoming Shuls

Making Welcoming Shuls With assimilation and intermarriage threatening to destroy the fabric of the Jewish people, it’s time to be proactive. What’s necessary is a large-scale kiruv (outreach) effort in which a welcoming hand is extended to those who have little or no background in Judaism and Jewish life, and who may be lost to […]

President’s Message

Serving as the voice and representative of hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Jews is a responsibility that I take very seriously. I am troubled by organization leaders who make political statements without strong support from their constituencies. I have often pondered how we at the OU can develop a model that would allow us to […]

A New Course of Action

A New Course of Action In the aftermath of the disengagement from Gush Katif, it became apparent that many OU members and synagogues were concerned that the OU had not taken a stronger position. As I have written in these pages in the past, this reaction encouraged me to try and change how we develop […]

A Vision for the Future

As I conclude my first term as president of the Orthodox Union and, with God’s help, look forward to my next two years, it is an obvious time to reflect on the past and to plan for the future. I was extremely fortunate that my administration began back in 2004 with the most successful OU […]