On June 3, 2021, following an exhaustive search, Congregation Anshe Chesed of Linden, New Jersey announced that it has hired Rabbi Yossi Katz as its new rabbi. The community is excited to welcome Rabbi Katz and his family to the nearly 110-year-old congregation, which is going through a pivotal period of transformation and growth.
Rabbi Katz is a New Jersey native and is originally from Passaic. He studied for three and a half years in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh in Eretz Yisrael and continued his studies at Yeshiva University, earning a master’s in Jewish philosophy from the Bernard Revel Graduate school. He is a musmach of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University, where he studied under Rabbi Yehuda Willig and Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank. He comes to Anshe Chesed after having served as a fellow in the YU Torah Mitzion Kollel of Chicago.
Rabbi Katz is joined by his wife, Emma, and their two children. Emma, also a New Jersey native, was born in Highland Park and attended Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim. She has a bachelor’s degree in Judaic studies and education from Stern College for Women, and a master’s degree in Jewish education from Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. She participated in the Bellows Eshkolot Tanach Educators Program at Matan Yerushalayim, learning both Tanach content and new and innovative educational methodology from leading Jewish educators. Emma is currently the director of NILI, the Chicago institute of women’s learning.
When asked about accepting this position and joining the Anshe Chesed family, Rabbi Katz said: “We are thrilled to be coming to Linden; it is such an amazing opportunity. There is so much potential for more growth. Linden combines all the benefits of out-of-town, such as a tight knit community, with the amenities of in town. In our time visiting we could see that it is such a beautiful family. We are looking forward to getting to know everyone better, both as a community and as individuals, and are looking forward to building so many new relationships.”
The rabbinic search committee had been very impressed with Rabbi Katz throughout his interview process, as one of the committee members, Daniel Schreck, commented: “Rabbi Katz’s love of people and Torah, as well as his unwavering kindness, all jump out at you when you first speak with him. Those qualities are also readily apparent in his wife, who we met at their probeh shabbat. My family and I look forward to welcoming the Katzes to the community, learning and growing with them in the years to come.”
The hiring of Rabbi Katz comes at a pivotal point in the history of Anshe Chesed as the shul and community are primed for new growth. The shul has spent the last year actively working on finalizing and launching a number of new initiatives and is excited to have this dynamic new rabbi joining and enhancing these efforts.
Among these initiatives is the Dr. Robert H. Weitzman Beis Medrash, which was officially opened this past Shavuot. The new beis medrash was a longtime project of the shul, which sought to create a more formal, accessible and welcoming environment for Torah study. With the array of daily learning opportunities at the shul, including daf yomi, rabbi and guest speaker-led classes, chavrutahs with YU students for men and women as well as children’s programming, the shul wanted to enhance the existing classrooms and library by consolidating and combining them into a larger, enhanced beis medrash.
Rabbi Katz is excited for his role in this new space and noted: “The shul has constructed a beautiful new beis medrash, and now I get the opportunity to help build it. I am looking forward to helping plan and run exciting new programs and shiurim, because everyone should have a part in and an opportunity to learn.”
Another recent initiative is a new financial incentive program that Anshe Chesed launched last year to help facilitate bringing in new members to the shul and community. Members new to the area with school-age children may also qualify for further incentives offered by the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest. Over the last year, several families have already taken advantage of these incentives, and many more are interested.
In addition to the shul’s internal growth, the greater Linden neighborhood has experienced growth as well, bringing with it new kosher establishments. In addition to the existing amenities in the surrounding areas, Bakeristor, a dairy cafe, recently opened within walking distance, and there will soon be a kosher grocery store. The area has also seen a surge in industry and employment opportunities with new Jewish-owned businesses relocating to the area; recently Artscroll moved to a new location in nearby Rahway. It is an exciting time for Anshe Chesed and the entire Linden community.
The Anshe Chesed family would love to welcome anyone to come visit Linden and learn more about all that Linden and Anshe Chesed have to offer. For more information, or to arrange a visit to the Linden community, please contact Anshe Chesed at (908) 486-8616 or [email protected].
By Eytan Yadlovker