Inside the OU

Highlights of the OU 2011 Convention

Amidst great excitement and enthusiasm, the Orthodox Union held its National Convention and One Day Conference on Jewish Life over the weekend of January 14-16 at The Hilton at Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. Drawing hundreds of OU officers and supporters from all over the country, the one-of-a-kind event included a stimulating Shabbat program devoted to the theme of leadership, and a Motzaei Shabbat Opening Session focused on “The Cost of Jewish Living,” with a panel of community leaders discussing the tuition crisis. All day Sunday, the One Day Conference on Jewish Life, which attracted more than 700 attendees, featured over twenty-five thought-provoking shiurim, presentations, and workshops organized around three tracks: Torah Life, Community Life, and Synagogue Life. Plenary sessions were devoted to “The Mesorah” and “The Orthodox Role in the Jewish Community of Tomorrow.”  Stephen J. Savitsky was honored for his six years of service to the OU as president, and Dr. Simcha Katz was elected as president for the coming term, together with a new slate of officers and board members.

Audio and video files of the complete One Day Conference on Jewish Life may be found at A summary of the resolutions passed by Convention delegates may be seen at

Photos: Erica Berger

Opening Session panelists Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald; Margy-Ruth Davis; Nachum Segal (anchor); Hon. David Greenfield and William Rapfogel discuss “The Cost of Jewish Living.”

Members of the Dworken family, who sponsored the Opening Session in memory of Rabbi Steven Dworken,
z”l, listen as OU Executive Vice President, Emeritus Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb recalls him with affection.

A roomful of shul
gabbaim listen intently as Rabbi Hershel Schachter explains the finer points of their calling.

Over twenty-five
shiurim, workshops and plenaries filled the day for Conference attendees.

Rabbi E. B. (Bunny) Freedman (left); and OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil lead a session on fundraising for synagogues.

Convention Chair Emanuel J. Adler welcomes the audience at the Opening Session, held at a nearby OU-member synagogue, Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Rabbi Moshe Elefant (Executive Rabbinic Coordinator and CEO, OU Kosher), known to thousands online for his
Daf Yomi shiur, delivers his shiur in person at the One Day Conference.

Resolutions Chair Steve Orlow explains the voting procedure to delegates.

NCSY volunteers, in red shirts, helped register the more than 700 attendees as they arrived.

Newly-elected President Dr. Simcha Katz expresses his concerns for the challenges facing today’s Jewish community, and lays out his vision for his new administration.

A presentation was made to outgoing President Stephen J. Savitsky. Rabbi Weil; Mr. Savitsky; Elana Schreier (Mr. Savitsky’s granddaughter, who introduced him); Genie Savitsky; Dr. Katz.

Genie Savitsky looks on as her husband Stephen J. Savitsky reflects on the six years of his presidency.

Latte and Learning, a popular NCSY activity, involving thousands of Jewish teens meeting weekly at Starbucks across the country, was recreated at the Convention.

Sign language interpreters, here with Rabbi Schachter as he spoke on “What Is a
Heter?” were provided at several sessions so that members of the OU’s Our Way for the Jewish Deaf program could participate.

The hall was full as Rabbi Weinreb spoke on “The

A buffet lunch was available throughout the afternoon.

Staff members manned information booths for each OU department throughout the day.

The topic for the final Plenary Session was “The Orthodox Role in the Jewish Community of Tomorrow.” Panelists were Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter; Jerry Silverman; Rabbi Efrem Goldberg; Rabbi Steven Burg; Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike; and anchor Rabbi Weil.

Drs. Sylvan and Marcy Schaffer jointly presented a session on positive Jewish parenting.

Taking time off from the sessions for coffee and schmoozing

Audience members crowd around
Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens following a Special Session on US-Israel Relations.






This article was featured in the Spring 2011 issue of Jewish Action.
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