The Case For Rabbi Daniel Korobkin

The following were emailed to Beth Jacob members Friday:

Sanford Deutsch writes Walter Hulkower, a member of Beth Jacob:

Dear Vel,

I am writing this letter to you subsequent to your calling me yesterday and asking me to provide you with information pertaining to the qualifications of Rabbi Korobkin. It is an honor for me to do so since I have been very close to Rabbi Korobkin for many years, davening with him daily, attending his daily Daf Yomi shiurim and listening to him perform his duties as the rabbi of Kehillat Yavneh. Rabbi Korobkin, in my opinion, is probably the most capable young rabbi in America today.

Rabbi Korobkin is a prolific writer, scholar, talmid chacham, orator, and a rabbi with class, dignity, "menschlekeit" and a very wise man. He is very active in the Jewish community, is very close to members of his congregation and is respected by all who know him. I doubt whether Rabbi Korobkin has any critics.

If you should need any further information, please contact me again. I consider Rabbi Korobkin as "my Rabbi" and I have been very involved in Jewish organizational life for the past 50 years.

M. Walter Hulkower emails Beth Jacob members:

Re: Rabbi Daniel Korobkin

I am writing to urge and request that you use your best efforts to persuade the search committee and executive board of Beth Jacob to engage the services of Rabbi Daniel Korobkin as Senior Rabbi.

This is in Beth Jacob’s best interest for the following reasons:

1. Beth Jacob’s Senior Rabbi. Rabbi Korobkin is very well accomplished, has served as a pulpit rabbi and educator for over 15 years, and has worked together with Rabbi Kalinsky in solving the problems of congregations throughout the West Coast.

2. Knowledge of the congregation and congregants. Rabbi Korobkin was raised in this synagogue and his family have been stalwart members for 30 plus years. We should take pride in the fact that one of our children, who grew up at Beth Jacob, has risen to such a level of prominence in the Jewish community on the West Coast and elsewhere.

3. Fundraising. Having grown up here, Rabbi Korobkin knows who are the major supporters of Beth Jacob. His charismatic personality and friendliness will surely go a long way in bringing more members into the financial fold.

4. Spirituality. There is no question that Rabbi Korobkin is spiritual and well learned. He has taught classes throughout this city including many at Beth Jacob. Those who have taken his classes know of his scholarship and teaching skills.

5. Achievements. Among his many achievements is the foremost translation of Rabbi Yehuda Halevi’s Kuzari which is about to be published for the second time. Rabbi Korobkin founded Young Israel of San Diego, his first pulpit, which is still flourishing. He was the only Orthodox rabbi in Allentown, PA, for six years before returning to Los Angeles.

6. Youth Work. As a father of ten children, he knows a great deal about youth work and what it takes to keep youth happy, quiet, productive and educated during services and at other times.

7. Stability. While we are engaging a fourth Rabbi and a new Cantor, it would be best to have someone who knows the congregation to create a sense of stability. Rabbi Korobkin is familiar with the other rabbis at Beth Jacob who will be remaining on staff.

8. Costs. The synagogue could save approximately $20,000 plus which would not have to be spent in bringing a Rabbi out, then bringing his wife out, then bringing his family out, then moving him out, and there would be several Rabbis involved.

9. Unity. Rabbi Korobkin is known to all of the Rabbis in our local community. He can provide a united and cohesive link between Beth Jacob and Mogen David, Young Israel, B’nai David and other congregations.

10. Membership. Through his engaging personality, classes, accessibility and leadership skills, he certainly can attract members. Rabbi Korobkin is in his mid-forties. He can relate to both the young members as well as to old members. He has interacted with many youth who are friends of his children.

11. Black Hatter. Rabbi Korobkin is not a black hatter. In his work with OU, he has not marched around with a black hat. Our revered founding rabbi, Simon Dolgin, wore a black homburg yet he was a modern man.

12. Loyalty and Responsibility. Our responsibility and loyalty is to Beth Jacob. It is not to YU, OU, etc. YU is not the only source for rabbis. While my son Raphy is completing his Smicha program at YU, I do not believe that we are chained to a YU graduate. Rabbi Korobkin is very learned and has an accredited and well earned smicha.

13. Respect for a person who grew up in our community. Marvin Komorsky was a local person who volunteered. He was rewarded with the executive position because he was local and had talent. Jay Braun grew up in Beth Jacob and because of his accomplishments, he became our Bal Koreh. Similarly, Rabbi Korobkin who grew up in Beth Jacob and has achieved much should likewise be selected as our Rabbi.

14. Search Committee. We have to give thanks to members who have volunteered to be on the search committee whether for the Cantor or the Rabbi. However, there is precedent for the search committee choosing a local rabbi and disbanding the committee. The Manhattan Jewish Center, a very prominent synagogue in New York, had a search committee appointed to find a senior rabbi. They were going to look throughout the United States but they looked into their own community and found that Rabbi Yossi Levine was the most qualified. They disbanded the search committee and unanimously engaged and hired Rabbi Yossi Levine as the senior rabbi of the Manhattan Jewish Center.

15. Religiosity. I have spoken to several people including board members who have said Rabbi Korobkin is a proper and ideal candidate. He knows halacha yet he understands that people are different and he listens to their religious problems and needs.

This letter was written by me without consulting anyone. It was typed by my office manager Jan. I purchased the envelopes and stamps and mailed the letters. I have taken the time to express my opinion which I believe is shared by many members.

As members of Beth Jacob, we should take some affirmative action to express our desires to the search/hiring committee.

In conclusion, I thank the members of the search committee for their efforts, and I trust that they will not act in a punitive manner because I publicly expressed my thoughts, desires and feelings, and what I believe is best for Beth Jacob and the Jewish community.

I joined Beth Jacob forty years ago when it was "the most famous synagogue west of the Mississippi." Beth Jacob can still grow and it will flourish under the leadership of Rabbi Daniel Korobkin.

I did not consult with Rabbi Korobkin about this letter. He will probably be very upset with me, but I had to do what I felt was right.

I thank you for any action you may take in urging the engagement of Rabbi Korobkin as our next senior rabbi.

About Luke Ford

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