Rabbi Ben Skydell has been the rabbi at Congregation Orach Chaim since January 2013. He follows an illustrious tradition of major American Rabbis to have served as the Congregation’s Rabbi, including Rabbis Michael D. Shmidman, Kenneth Hain and Simon Langer.
A native of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Rabbi Skydell is a graduate of Yeshiva College and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He is a long-time faculty member of the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, and taught for several years at Yeshivat Hadar. Rabbi Skydell also served on the rabbinic staff of Congregation Beth Sholom of Lawrence, New York for nine years.
Rabbi Skydell’s areas of interest include the intersection of Halacha and history, the spiritual worlds of mussar and hasidut, and the historical world of the Rabbis of the Talmud. Rabbi Skydell’s dynamic and engaging presentation has made him a sought-out speaker on college campuses throughout the United States.
Rabbi Skydell is married to Shani, a dedicated social worker and teacher. They are the proud parents of Hannah, Emmie and Zacky.
Cantor Yaakov Y. Stark has been described as possessing “a voice of great beauty, clear and true…breathtaking, radiant, as though from another world.” A child prodigy, at the mere age of seven Yaakov Yoseph Stark was already thrilling congregations with his heartrending solos on the High Holidays. His talent and ability were nurtured by the distinguished cantors in his family, and through continuously listening to the master cantors of the golden age: Rosenblatt, Hershman, Kwartin, Pinchik, Glantz and Koussevitzky. Huge crowds of people regularly attend to savor the stirring songs and timeless tefillos eloquently enhanced and warmly delivered by their beloved cantor. Cantor Stark was privileged to perform at numerous sold-out concerts with the most prestigious philharmonic orchestras and finest choirs throughout the world. His lyric tenor voice has put him in constant demand as a guest cantor in synagogues worldwide. Cantor Stark resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with his wife and children.
Rabbi Shmidman has served the Orach Chaim congregation and Upper East Side community since 1988. In addition to Rabbinic ordination, he holds a Ph.D. degree in Public Law and Government from Columbia University. He has served as Professor and Chairman of Political and Social Science at City University of New York and most recently as Dean of Undergraduate Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University. A widely recognized scholar, he is acclaimed as an outstanding teacher and inspiring preacher. An ardent Zionist, he has been honored by religious, social and cultural institutions in Israel and the United States.
Warnest shul I've experienced on the UES. If you're new, people will come up to you and make you feel welcome. Rabbi Skydell is great! He's smart, warm and a real down to earth people person
- Orach Chaim offers the highest level of Modern Orthodox torah learning within a uniquely warm and inviting environment. Family friendly and inclusive to all who wish to doven, the community and the rabbonim are the true treasures of the shul. I strongly recommend spending some time with the wonderful kehillah that is OC.
- Walk in to Orach Chaim: Five women will walk over to compliment your outfit (or your wife's outfit), the gabbai will introduce himself, and little children will run through your legs en route to their mothers. It's the best. The community is personally warm, passionate about Torah, and duly proud of both. Its commitment to learning is exceptional, even when every synagogue out there has a daf yomi program. Adults can hear from thinkers like Moshe Halbertal the shul's own impressive clergy staff; children can fall in love under the supervision of an energetic youth director. The davening is also special, both from congregational members and an on-staff chazan. Go, visit. You might never leave
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