July 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Rabbi Avi Heller to Head Shul and Community Services for OU in NJ and Rockland

In an effort to reach out to Jewish communities across various regions throughout the United States, the Orthodox Union’s Department of Community and Synagogue Services has announced the appointment of Rabbi Avi Heller as regional director for New Jersey and Rockland County, NY, to work with synagogues and communities in these areas. Rabbi Heller, originally from Denver, has served for the past six years as the director of education for the Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE), an outreach program for young professionals.

OU National Vice President and Chair of the Commission on Community and Synagogue Services, Barbara Lehmann Siegel of Silver Spring, MD, said, “The synagogue is the cornerstone of Jewish spiritual growth, social connection, educational development and of deepening Jewish identification and commitment. Rabbi Heller, the OU’s first New Jersey-Rockland County-area regional director, will serve as its ‘ambassador’ to strengthen bonds between the OU, as well as to deepen the relationships among the region’s various shul communities.”

Rabbi Judah Isaacs, director of the OU’s Department of Community and Synagogue Services, added, “The OU aims to bring to the entire network of Orthodox synagogues and communities positive vitality, shared resources, programming ideas, and solutions to varied challenges. We deliver strength in numbers and are a respected, powerful voice in the political arena. Rabbi Heller will listen, ask and learn from the region’s rabbis and lay leaders, to help determine their communities’ and synagogues’ individual challenges and needs.”

“His work will also enhance the crucial role of the shul as the gateway to the broad range of OU programs and services,” Rabbi Isaacs continued. “And we are certain that by being our ‘man on the ground,’ Rabbi Heller will be able to forge robust relationships with the Jewish communities in the region.”

Rabbi Heller said, “I am passionate about teaching and inspiring Jews of all kinds wherever they are. Synagogues are an integral way in which Jewish communities gather to not only learn and pray together, but to draw inspiration and to share a vision of Jewish life. There is an incredibly thriving and robust synagogue community in New Jersey as well as in Rockland County, and I hope to bring together, grow and leverage this network of shuls to strengthen them individually and as a whole under the OU umbrella.”

Together with his wife, Shira, the Hellers served as the Torah educators at the OU’s Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus program at Boston University. He has also served as the director of the Boca Raton Community Kollel; the rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue West; and the Bronfman Fellow at Hillel International. He received his B.A. in International Relations and Affairs from Boston University, rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), and also completed his M.A. in Bible from the Bernard Revel School of Graduate Studies at YU. Shira Heller is the assistant director for professional development for the Yeshiva University School Partnership. The Hellers live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with their three children.

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