Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Since its inception in 1898, the Orthodox Union has made continually transformative decisions, pivoting from developing the most complex kashrut-supervision programs in the world, to working toward creating a bedrock of principled leadership and advocacy groups at the national, state and lay levels. In recent years it has paved the way for Orthodox women to serve in leadership positions in as many halachically permissible manners as possible. Today, the OU’s book and magazine publications and learning programs, including its new 26,000-download-strong AllDaf Gemara app, along with Yachad and NCSY programs—transformative for Jewish youth in many ways—are among its flagship offerings.

And like all ships, all large organizations need captains, or leaders. Rabbi Moshe Hauer, senior rabbi of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation in Baltimore, has been named the next executive vice president of the OU, following Allen Fagin, who came to the OU as a longtime lay leader and a law firm managing partner, and has served admirably in a wide-ranging role since 2014. After an eventful and transformative five years, he is slated to retire later this year. Since Fagin’s job was so large, the OU has decided to split the role. Rabbi Hauer will focus on Fagin’s communal-oriented projects. A second person, yet to be named, will take the more process-oriented role, and will function as a chief executive.

A graduate of Baltimore’s Ner Yisroel Yeshiva with a master of talmudic law, and Johns Hopkins with an applied engineering advanced degree, Rabbi Hauer has been involved with the OU for his entire rabbinic career. “The world of the OU, the value of the OU and the world the OU serves is all that we know,” Hauer told The Jewish Link. “We have an opportunity to create a sense of unity in every strand of the Jewish community.”

“The Orthodox community is dynamic, vibrant and growing. The position of the OU within the community compels us to constantly identify, evaluate and anticipate both our communal challenges and its opportunities, and to refine and expand our programs such that we respond to the challenges and seize the opportunities,” Hauer said.

“As a pulpit rabbi in a significant Jewish community, I’ve had the opportunity to experience all types of Jews walking through our synagogue’s doors, as well as to meet them in broader communal frameworks. This has given me an up-close perspective on the varied needs of our community, which will help inform my work in this new role.”

Rabbi Hauer shared that the rabbinate in Baltimore is unified by a sense of communal purpose, and he hopes to bring that perspective to the OU. “At the federation level, we are all together as brothers and sisters working together for the Jewish community. That is the natural state of klal Yisroel. One man, one heart,” he said.

“Of course there are challenges, but a commitment to klal Yisroel is part and parcel and core to our values. We have a commitment to every Jew, of every affiliation or non-affiliation.”

Rabbi Hauer, who will remain living in Baltimore and commute both to New York’s OU headquarters and travel often as part of his role, is looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities. “I am humbled by the opportunity to work with the exceptional lay and professional leadership of the OU and our community’s synagogues in this new capacity. I look forward to working with Allen through this transition and developing a vision and specific plans later in the year,” said Rabbi Hauer.

“Rabbi Hauer is one of North America’s foremost contemporary Torah thinkers and rabbinic leaders who is most qualified to be our next executive vice president in our new formulation,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane. “His leadership will be key to the continuation of the OU’s increasing role in meeting the significant material and spiritual challenges facing the Orthodox community and elevating its religious experience by ensuring the accessibility of Torah knowledge and halachic observance to the broadest range of the American Jewish community.”

Fagin, too, expressed support for Rabbi Hauer’s hiring. “The past five-plus years have been tremendously fulfilling. We were able to significantly expand our programs and services in areas of key communal needs that have positively affected every corner of the Orthodox community. We have an outstanding team of professionals and lay leaders who give of themselves daily to help klal Yisroel and I am enormously grateful for their help and support. I am so pleased that Rabbi Hauer has been chosen for this new role and I am confident he will be an outstanding leader for the organization,” said Fagin.

In addition to his work at his synagogue, Rabbi Hauer serves as a trustee of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and is a member of the national council of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He is a member of the Rabbinical Council-Vaad HaRabbonim of Baltimore and the Rabbinical Council of America.

By Elizabeth Kratz