July 23, 2024
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Rabbi Aaron Shemtob Named New Rabbi of Sephardic Center of Fair Lawn

As Fair Lawn continues to grow and expand, so do the synagogues in town. The Sephardic Center of Fair Lawn hired Rabbi Aaron Shemtob just after Shavuot to be the shul’s new rabbi. Rabbi Shemtob told The Jewish Link, “My aim is I’m sure the same as every rabbi’s—to help people get closer to Hashem and to inspire people to a higher level of fulfillment of mitzvot and learning Torah. And of course to help build the kehilla. I’m now giving shiurim three times a week and hope to develop programs for the community and enrich the shul’s educational offerings.”

One of the challenges of the shul is that while there are many people who live nearby, many do not actually attend on a regular basis. They come for the chagim or to make a traditional bar or bat mitzvah, but then they do not return. As the only Sephardic shul in Fair Lawn, the hope is to entice these people to keep coming back.

The rabbinic search committee was made up of shul president Eli Hason, Yaron Edi and Haim Cohen. Yaron observed, “We’re now seeing a lot of Israelis moving to Fair Lawn because Brooklyn has gotten too expensive. For less money than it costs to live in Brooklyn, families can get a house with a backyard and have easy access to Israeli ganim, yeshivot and kosher food. We’re in the center of it all.”

Rabbi Shemtob will be living in Fair Lawn. “It’s been many years since we’ve had a rabbi living in town with us every single day,” said Talia Edi. “This is going to be a real asset for the community. It’s an incredibly warm and welcoming community. Everybody knows everybody. In fact, I consider it more of a family than a community. Rabbi Shemtob moved to town and has fit right in.”

Unfortunately, but fortunately, the shul has lost a lot of members to aliyah. “We’re looking for new, young members to join now and help the shul grow,” said Yaron. “Rabbi Shemtob will help the shul grow spiritually. We want our children to have divrei Torah and shiurim. Rabbi Shemtob has already shown wonderful achdut and established a good rapport with the community. People trust him and find it very easy to go to him with questions and concerns.”

Rabbi Shemtob grew up in Deal, New Jersey. He received his semicha (rabbinic ordination) from various rabbanim including two former chief rabbis of Israel. His extensive studies also include the study of dayanut for three and a half years in Kollel Aram Soba at the highly regarded Yechave Da’at institution in Har Nof, Jerusalem.

An accomplished teacher, Rabbi Shemtob taught adult classes in Judaic studies at Beth Torah Synagogue in Brooklyn for 10 years and has lectured around the country and taught classes to rabbis-in-training at Midrash Sephardi in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Rabbi Shemtob has a love of chazanut and studied under three of the top Sephardic cantors in the world, including the world-renowned master Rabbi Raphael Yair Elnadav, zt”l. His cantorial experience includes serving as a chazan in synagogues across America over the past 20 years. He released a CD in 2007, Yismach Yisrael.

For more information about the shul, contact Rabbi Shemtob at 305-414-9730 or by email: [email protected]. To reserve seats for Rosh Hashanah, please contact Yaron Edi at 201-201-873-7931.

By Sara Kosowsky Gross

 

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