How Is Rabbi Weil Doing With The Orthodox Union?

Rabbi Steven Weil ran Beth Jacob for nine years. The shul members who hired him thought he’d stick around longer than that.

Rabbi Weil’s fundraising abilities helped the shul turn its finances around. He also brought in new members, many of them young couples.

This summer, Rabbi Weil took over as the CEO of the Orthodox Union. So far he’s getting good reviews.

I wonder what will be next for Rabbi Weil? Will he run Yeshiva University? Run for Congress? For U.S. President?

Rabbi Weil still lives in Pico-Robertson (in Dennis Prager’s former home). His wife and family did not want to move to New York.

I think this is the first time that the Orthodox Union is not being run by a resident of New York.

Rabbi Weil commutes to New York almost every Sunday night and returns almost every Thursday night.

"His family is settled here," says a source. "Everyone is happy here. Moving teenage kids is very disruptive. They’re doing the right thing by staying here. They are happy here and they have good friends here."

Over the High Holidays, Rabbi Weil spoke at Beth Jacob (mainly in Michael Berkow’s minyan at Harkham Hillel across the street). He spent much of Sukkot at a private minyan in a home in Beverlywood.

On a typical Shabbos morning, he davens different places. He’ll often go to Benny’s Minyan at Beth Jacob. He doesn’t have a lot of choices about where to daven if he wants to stay within Modern Orthodoxy because during his time in the hood he alienated his fellow rabbis at Bnai David-Judea and Young Israel of Century City.

Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, West Coast director of the OU, also davens in different shuls.

I can’t imagine that the Orthodox Union hired him with the understanding that he would keep his residence in Los Angeles.

Where you live is much less important today than ten years ago, and certainly less important than 40 years ago, thanks to things like online conferencing, email, etc.

The OU’s largest division is kashrut. Much of what they supervise come from California’s central Valley. Perhaps their head of kashrut should live in Sacramento?

A FRIEND CALLS: "Why is Rabbi Weil not welcome at Beth Jacob, Bnai David, YICC? Are they afraid he’s going to hit somebody?"

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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