In this episode – a quasi-sequel to Episode 117 – Scott speaks with Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt of the Altneu Shul in Manhattan. Rabbi Goldschmidt spent ten years at the Park East Synagogue after which, in a story that was widely reported in the press, the senior rabbi there effectively pushed him out. From his experiences since that event, Rabbi Goldschmidt has a unique perspective that comes from starting a new shul in Manhattan, and trying to cater to a population that may be looking for new forms of Jewish engagement.
But the real focus of the conversation was less the challenges Rabbi Goldschmidt faces as a shul rabbi, and more the possibility of reinventing the very idea of the synagogue, and even the idea of community, in the Orthodox world. So many people feel disenfranchised from our existing institutions, and Rabbi Goldschmidt himself knows what it means for a venerable, existing synagogue to feel threatened by you. In this interview he explains how he is using his unusual opportunity to create a new shul in order to do things differently, to bring more people in who might normally look elsewhere for their spiritual nourishment.
To read the New York Times article about what happened at the Park East Synagogue, go to https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/03/nyregion/park-east-synagogue-rabbi.html.
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Music: “Happy Rock” by bensound.com