Rabbi Elliot Schrier comes to Teaneck’s Bnai Yeshurun from the Albert Einstein Synagogue at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, where he’s been since 2016.
It is clear that he values the personal relationships he formed with congregants. “I speak with someone from Albert Einstein almost every day,” he said, whether professionally or personally.
He is extremely aware of the demographic differences between his small New York pulpit and the more than 500-family shul he will now lead. Fortunately, he prides himself on his ability to reach out to many different kinds of people, each at their own level.
Bnai Yeshurun, he said, “has a wide demographic, ranging from families with young kids to retirees.” His own family is part of that diverse demographic. He and his wife, Rena, have three sons: 6-year-old Coby, 3-year-old Zecharia, and 1-year-old Gavriel.
Describing the shul’s membership as “robust,” he said that “my goal is to actively engage with all the demographics and try to be the rabbi for each of them.” In addition, “I want to bring everyone together, integrating them into a single, cohesive community.”
While every community has its own idiosyncrasies, flavor, and culture, “what’s special here is the passion of the membership,” he continued. “They’re eager to get involved.” He hopes to channel that enthusiasm into a number of exciting directions.
The synagogue’s new religious leader comes from Woodmere, one of Long Island’s Five Towns, and credits the town’s Rabbi Hershie Billet as one of the major influences in his life, inspiring him to become a caring, compassionate rabbi. Like Rabbi Billet, Rabbi Schrier said, he would hope to reach people at their most vulnerable moments, giving them comfort and bringing them closer to God.
In addition to being inspired by mentors such as the Five Town’s Rabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky and YU’s Rabbi Michael Rosensweig, Rabbi Schrier said that he was led to this career choice by twin passions. “Broadly speaking, I was inspired by a passion for the Torah on one hand, and a passion for people on the other. It was almost a natural path, heavily impacted by the many amazing rabbis I had.”
Because Bnai Yeshurun requires that its rabbi take on the synagogue leadership as a full-time job, Rabbi Schrier no longer will chair the Talmud department at the North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck, where he taught Gemara to high school students and was the director of the school’s advanced learning program. Instead, he will direct his teaching talents to Bnai Yeshurun, and he hopes to launch an educational initiative focused on tefillah. He also is passionate about bringing the benefits of Torah learning to a wide range of people.
Rabbi Schrier comes to Teaneck after the departure of longtime its longtime rabbi, Steven Pruzansky, who retired from its pulpit and made aliyah after serving Bnai Yeshurun for more than 25 years. In a letter to the congregation, synagogue president Steven Becker wrote that Rabbi Schrier will helm a three-man rabbinic team, which includes Rabbi Ari Zahtz and Rabbi Yosef Weinberger.
Rabbi Schrier — who won’t divulge more about his upcoming Rosh Hashanah sermon than that it touches on themes of renewal — has a brother, Rabbi Robbie Schrier, the resident scholar at Fair Lawn’s Congregation Darchei Noam.
Like most other rabbis, Rabbi Schrier described the covid pandemic as a challenge, but said “we are optimistic that we can move forward….utilizing technology to create community even when we’re apart.
While Rabbi Schrier’s primary passion is Torah, he said that he’s also a “passionate skier, and a runner during the summer.” Not surprisingly, the native New Yorker — who also plays chess — is a Yankees fan.