How a ‘spiritual entrepreneur’ plans to boost Jewish life at 92nd Street Y

(New York Jewish Week) – the founder of a Manhattan synagogue known for its fast-growing and mystical atmosphere has been hired to lead Jewish programs at 92nd High Street.

Rabbi David Ingber, THe is Romero’s founding rabbi on the Upper West Side, in a new role.Chief Director of Jewish Life.” In a statement, the Y said his appointment is part of a plan to “revitalize our Jewish Life program” at one of the city’s most recognized cultural venues.

“It’s a great opportunity. I’m very excited about it,” Ingber said in an interview Wednesday, adding that the leaders of the Upper East Side institution “seem very open and excited to bring innovation and creativity to the street.” Bring Y 92.”

Both Ingber and those leaders are confident that a self-described “spiritual entrepreneur” is a better fit for a nearly 150-year-old Jewish institution known more for hosting chamber orchestras and best-selling authors than for religious services.

“I’m excited to take the energy of a startup, the energy of innovation — the energy of ‘let’s try this and see what works’ — and bring it to a kind of legacy institution,” Ingber said. He noted that Romemu, founded in 2006, has become more institutionalized, with about 1,000 members, a team of chaplains and educators, an egalitarian yeshiva and locations on the Upper West Side and in Brooklyn.

“What’s fascinating about David is that he not only thinks in innovative ways, but he makes that innovation a reality,” said Y Company CEO Seth Pinsky. He not only envisioned building an institution, he actually built one.

Ingber’s hiring comes soon after A major rebranding in May saw “92 Y Street” become “92 Y Street, New York”. – A change in downtown reflected in the new logo reading “92NY”. (“Y” formerly stood for “Young Men’s Hebrew Association.) 92NY has also raised $11 million toward a 15 million dollars Fund for the Jewish Future with the goal of expanding its Jewish programs and “engaging those who are often disconnected from Jewish life.”

The fund, like Ingber’s hiring, is doubling down on Jewish programs currently run by New York’s Bronfman Center for Jewish Life 92, which in recent years has been run by Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, its director emeritus. Ingber will also become the center’s senior director, while Rabbi Joey Hessel, interim director of the Bronfman Center, will be promoted to director.

Although 92NY has always had Jewish programming, Pinsky describes the new push as a matter of messaging and mission.

“Part of that is being more public and more visible about our Jewish identity,” Pinsky said. And as an organization that Straddling the line between religion and culture, with a history of welcoming and not judging people regardless of their background or beliefs, we are especially well-positioned to build bridges to a group that is not attached to Jewish life.

Rommo, a secular, egalitarian synagogue, has attracted such seekers based on Ingber’s charisma and musical ministry, drawn from the mystical traditions of Judaism and Eastern spiritual practices. Ingber by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the late founder of the Jewish Revival movement, which owes much to the counterculture of the 1960s as well as emotional approaches to Hasidic Jewish prayer.

Families worshiping at the Rosh Hashanah ceremony held at 92 Y St. in 2017. (92NY)

Ingeber will continue to lead services at Romemu, among other duties, even after starting the new job on January 1.I love leading prayers, leading rituals, preaching and teaching what I want,” Ingber explained. He said that the board in Romemu ““It has been incredibly supportive of this movement.” Daily operations will be carried out by Romemu’s clergy and professional team.

Ingber, who lives on the Upper West Side, is no stranger to the 92NY neighborhood. Growing up in Great Neck, Long Island, he attended Ramaz, a Modern Orthodox day school on East 85th Street. He later studied at Yeshiva University and New York University and was ordained by him Shakhtar-Shalomi in 2004.

Ingber doesn’t see a wide gap between his congregations on the West Side and Brooklyn and the clientele of 92 New York, though he acknowledges that people have different expectations from a synagogue than from a Jewish community center.

“People who walk through the doors of a synagogue are, by definition, looking for a synagogue environment,” he said. “What I’m excited about is that no matter who walks through the doors of the 92nd Street Y, my assumption is that there is something in the Jewish tradition that speaks to them and touches their lives in a profound way. makes it richer.”

Synagogues and Jewish community centers sometimes see each other as competitors, but Ingber said there is no intention to “take anybody away” from any other institution. “My location at 92 Y Street is an addition, not a subtraction. We are trying to bring more information to those who are currently coming through the doors and would not otherwise go to synagogues and other places.

“Overall, I think all Jewish institutions are fighting together for the relevance of Judaism and its endless potential to make life more meaningful, beautiful and relevant,” he added. So we are all on the same team.”

Ingber is also committed to programming around Israel, which over the years has gone from a unifying force among American Jews to an often polarizing one. “Israel is absolutely central to Jewish identity,” he said. We need to engage in conversations about the beauty of Israel, the complexity of Israel, the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, and Israel and America. All those conversations are part of [Y’s] platform now, and they will continue to be.”

Like most Jewish community centers, 92NY has a fitness center, which Ingber says fits his vision for the Jewish community.

“I had a background in teaching Pilates and Gyrotonics and all that body stuff,” she said. And when we started Romemu, we were originally called “Judaism for Body, Mind and Spirit.” This was the original logo. And 92 Y Street is essentially a space for culture, body, heart and soul. It’s very exciting to bring these two communities into conversation in this way.”

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