Sunday, January 16, 2022

Livingston–Rabbi Elie Mischel has warmth, an engaging smile, and an inviting manner. He is young, energetic, and welcoming and, right off the bat, it’s easy to see how he captured the hearts, minds, and neshamas of the congregation of the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center.

Rabbi Mischel, and his wife, Dr. Rebecca Mischel, joined the shul in August of 2013. They, and their four children, daughters Klilah, Emunah, and Aderet, and son Uriel, have become prominent members of the Livingston Jewish community, the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy family, and the entire Metrowest Jewish community.

The rabbi came to the shul aware of its heterogeneous hashkafah and immediately assured everyone that the synagogue would continue to be an environment where she or he could find his or her place. The community continues to grow, albeit slowly, and his goal is to help congregants and prospective members reach the next level of spiritual growth. He would love to bring in another 10, 20, or 30 families, wanting to build on what has been accomplished thus far. He finds the fluid spiritual movement in the shul stimulating and exciting, and hopes to bring together different types of people, whether yeshivishe families or Modern Orthodox–people who are looking for a spiritual home that suits them, with the common goal of growth. The outcome of that growth is the ultimate goal, not the growth itself.

“Average” Livingston parents are those who want to learn more about Judaism, while providing yeshiva educations to their children. The majority of Suburban Torah members send their children to the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, conveniently located in Livingston, while a minority send their children to either the Golda Och Academy in West Orange, or the Livingston public schools. Many of the newer shul members have come to the synagogue by way of its nursery school, the Iris Berman Early Childhood Center, which has an excellent reputation.

The shul is viewed as somewhat of an outreach shul, much more so than other Modern Orthodox synagogues in the area and less than a full Chabad-type experience. It provides a joyous atmosphere of love, and is a place people are not afraid to enter.

As a yeshiva bochur, Rabbi Mischel studied in Israel for two years. He received a BS in Business and Management from the Sy Syms School of Business; his MA in Modern Jewish History from Bernard Ravel Graduate School, and simultaneously attended Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and RIETS, receiving his JD and smicha in 2007.

Rabbi Mischel first practiced as a corporate attorney at Day Pitney in Florham Park, NJ. Feeling somewhat unfulfilled, and realizing that his particular skill set could be best applied elsewhere, he went to work at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future. This allowed him to reach out to Jewish youth and help them grow and learn in various ways in the States and abroad. After close to four years at YU, Rabbi Mischel felt drawn toward the pulpit. He believed he could make more of a difference by focusing his efforts on one community instead of being in constant motion. He wanted to find a home. He spent four more years as the assistant rabbi of the Young Israel of Staten Island, and finally found what he was searching for in Livingston, at the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center.

Rabbi Mischel has made the synagogue a warm and non-threatening place. He is intent on building on the strengths of the past, while infusing and inspiring the community of the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center with his vision of the future.

By Jill Kirsch

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