Inside the OU

Inside the OU – Summer 2023

Happenings Around the OU


Disability Inclusion in Shuls

In honor of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) this past February, the OU Department of Synagogue Initiatives and Yachad co-hosted an empowering community conversation about disability inclusion in shuls. The event, hosted at the Young Israel of Woodmere in New York and moderated by OU Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph, addressed the struggles of families and individuals with disabilities and emphasized the importance of establishing empathy and inclusive and accessible systems in shuls. Rabbi Shay Schachter, Rosh Beit Midrash of the Young Israel of Woodmere and Yachad Posek, delivered words of chizuk and shared the Torah perspective on why including everyone in shul life is important. This was followed by a panel discussion featuring three Yachad parents on the challenges and joys of being a Yachad parent. In addition to the eighty in-person attendees, over 1,500 people accessed the event via livestream.

“There were so many people, specifically those who have a family member with a disability, who were so thirsty for this conversation,” said Yachad New York Director Rebecca Schrag Mayer.

To access the program, visit


OU Hosts Delegates from Europe’s Largest Orthodox Synagogue Movement

OU Community Projects and Partnerships National Director Rabbi Simon Taylor; OU Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph; United Synagogue President Michael Goldstein; OU President Mitchel R. Aeder; OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer; United Synagogue COO David Collins; United Synagogue Trustee Saul Taylor; and United Synagogue CEO Jo Grose.


In March, the OU hosted a delegation of thirteen executives and lay leaders from the United Synagogue, including newly appointed United Synagogue leaders CEO Jo Grose and COO David Collins, at OU Headquarters in New York. Based in London, United Synagogue is the largest synagogue movement in Europe, supporting sixty Orthodox Jewish communities.

Following opening remarks by OU President Mitchel R. Aeder, the group held several roundtable discussions on topics such as the importance of developing Torah values, cultivating women in leadership, and growing the pipeline of Jewish leaders. Over the next two days, the delegation traveled to yeshivot and shuls in Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey, met with lay leaders in the home of philanthropists Avi and Becky Katz in Teaneck, New Jersey and visited the OU’s satellite office in New Jersey.

“It was a pleasure to introduce Jo Grose and David Collins, as well as the entire delegation, to the important work that the OU is doing, as well as show them Orthodox synagogues and schools in the area,” OU Community Projects and Partnerships National Director Rabbi Simon Taylor said. “The visit was a watershed moment for them that has the potential to change the future of the United Synagogue.”


OU Leadership Meets with Israeli President

OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer; Israeli President Isaac Herzog; OU Israel President Stuart Hershkowitz; and OU Israel Executive Director Rabbi Avi Berman at the meeting in President Herzog’s official Jerusalem residence.


This past January, OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer, OU Israel Executive Director Rabbi Avi Berman and OU Israel President Stuart Hershkowitz met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to discuss the need for increased unity between the State of Israel and American Jewry. At the meeting, held at President Herzog’s official residence in Jerusalem, Rabbi Hauer affirmed President Herzog’s potential to increase unity amid rising tensions between Israel and some American Jews. He noted the need for more dialogue and inclusion to combat misinformation about the State of Israel and the Israeli government. President Herzog praised the OU for its contributions to education and its help in building Jewish identity. He also presented Rabbi Hauer with a copy of the newly printed sefer Heichal Yitzchak, written by the president’s grandfather, Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi Herzog, and inscribed it with a personal note.


Supporting Ukrainian Orphans

In March, sixteen students from Torah Academy of Bergen County and The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy—Yeshiva University High School for Boys traveled with NCSY Relief Missions to Romania to help the Tikva Odessa orphanage relocate from Neptun to Bucharest. During the ten-day trip, the group helped with packing and moving, and provided fun activities—including soccer competitions and a carnival—for the orphanage’s children, who fled war-torn Odessa, Ukraine in 2022. This is NCSY Relief Missions’ fifth trip to the region.

“Our goal is to show these children that they’re not alone, that there are people who care about them and want to help them,” said NCSY Relief Missions Director Rabbi Ethan Katz.

MTA student Ari Frankel (right) making balloon animals with one of the children from Tikvah Odessa orphanage at a carnival organized by the high-schoolers for the orphans.


To help sponsor additional missions and to learn more about the program, contact Roz Beberman at


New Line of GE Fridges to Be OU Kosher Certified 

In February, GE Appliances (GEA) announced the production of a new line of forty-five OU Kosher/CRC Hisachdus–certified top-freezer refrigerators with manually operated, built-in Enhanced Shabbos Mode (ESM). ESM deactivates door switches, auto defrost sensors, touch screens, ice makers and water dispensers, and controls interior lights. These new appliances will allow users to easily turn ESM on and off as needed without an external device. The OU Kosher symbol on the product will confirm certification. The new line of certified refrigerators is estimated to be available to the public in June.

OU Kosher, through its partnership with ZMAN Technologies, continues to work with GEA to increase the availability of kosher-certified, halachically compliant ESM appliances, including ovens, while making them more user friendly.

This development [of a new refrigerator line] shows yet another way we’re evolving with the needs of kosher consumers and expanding in the realm of technology.

—OU Kosher COO Rabbi Moshe Elefant

“Improving access to kosher-certified appliances is in keeping with our mandate to support kosher observance. We’re pleased to be part of this important collaboration that offers consumers another option to maintain kashrus in their homes,” said OU Kosher CEO Rabbi Menachem Genack. For additional information, visit


Promotions and Achievements


Welcome to…

. . . Amir Braun, Media Placement Manager, Marketing and Communications. In this new position, Amir is responsible for streamlining and managing ad placement across the organization, including coordinating publishing schedules, negotiating ad buys and collaborating with the public relations team on the placement of earned media. Amir holds a bachelor’s in marketing with a minor in management from Yeshiva University.



. . . Avigail Goldberg, Donor Communications Manager, Institutional Advancement. Avigail will be working with the OU’s Director of Donor Communications to manage ongoing communications and optimization for donor engagement. She joins the OU with over five years of experience in administration, creative development and communications. Avigail holds a bachelor’s in English with a minor in digital multimedia design from Touro University and a master’s in creative writing from The New School.



. . . Batsheva Moskowitz, Associate Editor, Jewish Action. Batsheva is responsible for proofing, editing and fact checking content for Jewish Action’s print magazine, performing photo research for print and digital articles and managing Jewish Action’s monthly newsletter, social media accounts and website. She joins the OU with experience as Copy Editor and Graphic Designer for a graphic book and for OU-JLIC and previously served as Editor of a Brandeis University newsletter. Batsheva holds a bachelor’s in creative writing with minors in business and theater from Brandeis University.



. . . Rabbi Yair Menchel, Program Manager, Community Projects & Partnerships. Rabbi Menchel’s primary focus is on GenAleph, the OU’s new parenting initiative. In addition to managing the program, Rabbi Menchel is the host of GenAleph’s new podcast, “The Jews Next Dor.” Prior to joining the OU, Rabbi Menchel founded the JEDucation podcast, and continues to serve in several roles at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in New Jersey. He obtained semichah from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, holds a master’s in education and leadership from YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration and gained a certificate in school management and leadership from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.


. . . Paul Kaplan, Senior Development Officer, Institutional Advancement. Paul will be engaging current and prospective donors to the OU with the goal of increasing membership in the Benefactor Circle. He will also be spearheading the OU’s efforts to engage donors in legacy gifts. He has dedicated over twenty years of his professional career to helping others, including over a decade in nonprofit fundraising. Paul holds a bachelor’s in business administration and marketing from East Carolina University and a master’s in education from Penn State University.



. . . Shai Kopitnikoff, Assistant Director of Talent Development, Human Resources. As a member of the HR team, Shai will manage the strategy and execution of employee professional development across the organization. Employee trainings, coaching managers and implementing best practices are some of what Shai loves about his new role. Before joining the OU, he worked as the Talent Strategy and eLearning Manager at UJA-Federation of New York. Two of Shai’s proudest achievements are his master’s in industrial-organizational psychology and being featured in this issue of Jewish Action.



New From OU Press


Perpetuating the Masorah: Halakhic, Ethical, and Experiential Dimensions

By Rabbi Yitzhak Twersky; edited by Carmi Horowitz and David Shapiro

OU Press and Maggid Books


The following description of Rabbi Twersky and this volume is drawn from the editors’ insightful introduction.


Rabbi Dr. Yitzhak (Isadore) Twersky (1930–1997) was a uniquely multifaceted Torah scholar. One of the leading scholars of academic Jewish studies, Rabbi Twersky was the Nathan Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy at Harvard University and founded and headed the university’s Center for Jewish Studies. He was one of the outstanding Maimonidean scholars of his time and a master of medieval Jewish intellectual history with a specialty in the relationship between halachah and Jewish spirituality. His books and his articles became classics in his lifetime, and they continue to be studied and quoted. Simultaneous with his career at Harvard University, Rabbi Twersky succeeded his father, Rabbi Meshulem Zusha Twersky, as the Chassidic head of Beit Hamidrash Beit David in Brookline, and served there as the Talner Rebbe. Rabbi Twersky was deeply committed to his role as the Rebbe and, as an heir to one of the great Chassidic dynasties, he saw himself as a link in the chain of Chassidic tradition. He was as punctilious in preserving Chassidic customs as he was in his halachic observance and was a compassionate leader who cared for and took close interest in his congregants. In addition, he was the devoted son-in-law and disciple of the great representative of the Lithuanian Talmudic tradition, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, “the Rav.”

The essays in Perpetuating the Masorah reveal the profound impact that the Rav had upon him. This volume consists of a collection of essays on aggadic, halachic, ethical, and spiritual themes dedicated to the memory of his father-in-law. The first four of the essays in the volume were originally delivered orally by Rabbi Twersky and published based on a careful transcription of his lectures and examination of his notes, while the last essay of the book, an intellectual profile of the Rav, was written by Rabbi Twersky and newly edited for this volume. The chapters in this volume were shiurim by Rabbi Twersky in tribute to the Rav; they were not intended to be a hesped. However, the “presence” of the Rav is felt in all of them, either explicitly or implicitly. The themes that are developed were important to both of them, and in Perpetuating the Masorah Rabbi Twersky is also perpetuating the legacy of the Rav. The chapters of this volume offer insight into the Rav’s influence on him, notwithstanding his own independent and original thinking and writing.

Some of the issues addressed are: the teaching of Torah and its goals, becoming a Torah scholar, the prerogatives of Torah scholars and their responsibilities and obligations, the qualities of teachers and students of Torah, and the uniqueness of Jewish tradition. Commitment to the mesorah, the passion and love of Torah, the excitement of understanding penimiyut haTorah—the inner spirituality of Torah—all flow from the words and between the lines of these essays. The mesorah emphasizes the centrality of law, which included its observance as well as the heavy intellectual demands of its study, while simultaneously giving a place of preeminence to religious spirituality and to moral and ethical living. This fusion of law and spirituality was a central focus in Rabbi Twersky’s scholarly writings, but for him the topic was not solely academic. It lay at the very heart of his own religious consciousness, his own spiritual commitment to a life of kedushah, holiness. It was a cherished and honored feature of the spiritual legacies he had inherited: the Chassidic tradition he received from his father, and the intellectual-spiritual heritage he received from his father-in-law.

One citation from the book, which describes the ideal of a Torah teacher, encapsulates much about Rabbi Twersky himself and his teachings: “The hakham reveals much that is otherwise hidden: his ethical behavior; his spiritual yearning; the emotional, experiential components of his religious commitment. All of this—and at times this is difficult for the rebbe—is done in order that the talmid will be the beneficiary. The intellectual sophistication is harmoniously integrated with the religious sensitivity and the experiential intensity.” Perpetuating the Masorah adds one more dimension to the legacy of this great teacher who so harmoniously integrated intellectual sophistication with religious sensitivity and experiential intensity.

This article was featured in the Summer 2023 issue of Jewish Action.
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