By Stephen E. Lipken
The profound experience as an American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJDC) Service Corps Educator Volunteer in Kalwa, India, a suburb of Mumbai, ultimately led new Beth El Synagogue Center New Rochelle Senior Rabbi David Schuck on the path toward the rabbinate.
“I graduated Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Middle East History in May 1995 and in August went to India. I served as a Jewish educator, building the educational infrastructure of their Jewish community. Living in a place where people were thirsty for knowledge had a significant impact on me.”
After another year of teaching and studying in yeshiva in Israel, Schuck enrolled in the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and upon ordination, began his service as Rabbi of the Pelham Jewish Center, stating that his 11 years in Pelham were deeply enriching and shaped his rabbinate in profound ways. He also began teaching in the JTS Rabbinical School about four years ago.
About his vision for Beth El, Rabbi Schuck said, “It is important to me to honor the 43 years of service that Rabbi Melvin Sirner dedicated to this community. My immediate goal is to continue his legacy by building relationships and trust through listening. I want to meet as many people as possible and learn about their fears and dreams for this sacred community. Eventually, common themes will emerge to help guide us in reimagining our future.
“Synagogues need to be places of refuge in which we can find deep spiritual connections to one another, our past and to the great Mystery of being alive. A synagogue can be an oasis at which our ‘energy-sapping-obsession’ with productivity can simply melt away and we can connect to our better selves.
“I also believe that synagogue boundaries must be supple, making space for all who want to enter. Synagogues must also be open to the larger community. I hope that Beth El will contribute a great deal to the larger civic New Rochelle community.
“Central to my vision is the primary importance of Israel. I don’t feel compelled to influence political opinions, but hope to help people explore the significance of the state of Israel to their lives and to our future.
“The fate of the American Jewish community is tied to the fate of Israel, so we have to bring as many people to Israel as possible in order to experience our homeland first hand,” Schuck concluded.