New Rabbi Strives To Unite Jews of Canarsie
In December 2011, many Jewish congregations in and around Canarsie were asked to come together at the Sephardic Jewish Center on Flatlands Avenue in celebration of Hanukkah as a historical show of unity between the different faiths in the area.
Leading the service was Rabbi Avraham Priel, the founder and director of the Midrash Yosef Shalom Foundation, an outreach organization, located in Manhattan at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue on 62nd Street, with studies in Judaism, civic events, executive teaching, and other ways for people to learn and practice Judaism.
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Priel attended Moreshet Yaakov University where he completed a Masters degree in Education while he studied the Talmud, a collection of Jewish laws and history. He became an ordained Rabbi and taught in Israel until he joined the Israeli army as a tank driver.
Approximately 20 years ago, shortly after leaving the military, he came to the United States and set out on an educational journey that took him to Maryland, Massachusetts, and Long Island before settling into Manhattan. For over 10 years he has led a thriving congregation at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue and continues to move forward in his teachings there while holding many religious events throughout the year.
Last year Priel decided to move to Canarsie to begin assisting his motherin law, who had fallen ill. The change in residency prompted him to seek local houses of worship.
“When I came to Canarsie I started to explore and was amazed at the number of synagogues. I saw how vibrant the Jewish community is here. There is still a community that can be united. I want to reach out to every Jew and teach tolerance and tradition.”
In order to help him succeed in the task, Priel has reached out to over 10 congregations, the Hebrew Educational Society, and other organizations around Canarsie and has been welcomed with opened arms to lead prayers and organize events.
Plans are also being hammered out to add Torah and Hebrew classes, which would be taught in a rotation system at synagogues, an idea born from his experience of teaching those classes at the Park East Synagogue in Midtown Manhattan.
“The other synagogues have been very cooperative. They show great interest in having programs and activities,” he said.
Rabbi Priel looks to continue his success of bringing all Jewish people of Canarsie together beginning with a Tu B’Shevat (Jewish Arbor Day) program on February 7th at the Seaview Jewish Center.
For more information on the event, call 718- 251-1900.