Q: Rabbi Rubin, can you tell us a little about yourself? Are you a native of Baltimore?
RR: I actually grew up in Toronto and came here to learn in Ner Yisrael almost 13 years ago and haven’t left since! Baruch Hashem, my wife (who I schlepped down here from New York) and I are so privileged to be a part of this amazing community and raise our family here!
Q: I understand that you’re the Rav of a fast-growing kehilla in the Summit Park/Indian Village neighborhood. How long have you been doing that?
RR: Young families started moving out to the neighborhood about ten years ago. Over time, a basement minyan was formed for Friday night davening, but most people were walking a nice distance for Shabbos day. About three years ago, the minyan realized that there was a growing need for a shul in the area and I was called in to be the Rav. Since then, the shul has B”H purchased and renovated a beautiful building and has grown to over eighty families who are all thrilled to be a part of this wonderful kehilla!
Q: Can you walk us through a typical Shabbos in Ohr Yisrael?
RR: Shabbos is a really exciting time for families in our shul, especially for the kids. Friday night davening is always leibedig and full of energy. Before Maariv, I pose a question or riddle on the Parsha for families to chew over the Shabbos meals & after Shabbos I send out the answers. It’s really amazing to hear the many creative answers from our members and their children over the weekend. On Shabbos morning, we are proud to have two beautiful minyanim: hashkama and main. The ruach and comradery among our Balei Batim in both minyanim is exceptional! Then, of course, there’s the drasha at the main minyan where I enjoy sharing a short but profound thought on the Parsha which has relevance to the ever-changing times and lives of our mispallelim. After davening, we have a hot kiddush where I share a meaningful story and sing Shabbos zemiros with the children. B”H, I’m proud to say that I have gotten to know almost every child in the shul on a personal level. One of my points of pride that gives me much joy is our Chevra Mishnayos Club on Shabbos afternoon where I get to test the boys of all ages on their learning. To have the opportunity to learn Torah with every boy and watch them progress over time is simply incredible and gives me much satisfaction! Another highlight for me is when I bring my girls to shul for Bnos and listen to them enjoying themselves with their friends as I give my in-depth Chumash/Rashi shiur to the men. It’s really a packed Shabbos and we hope that everyone walks away each week with the sensational taste of Shabbos!
Q: Where do you see your shul in, let’s say, ten years from now?
RR: Hah, only a Navi can answer a question like that! Ultimately, my dream is to see every family in our kehilla deepen their relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, His Torah, and each other. In addition to learning with the boys in shul, it gives me great nachas when I walk in to the Bais Medrash every night and listen to the reverberating sound of Torah coming from the many members of our shul shteiging together and enjoying each other’s company. These people are growing and I hope that it never stops, certainly not after ten years!