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From 'City Slicker' to Suburban Leader

September 22, 2005 By:
Jared Shelly, JE Feature
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Rabbi Avraham Steinberg of Young Israel of the Main Line would serve as head of school for a proposed Orthodox boys high school in Bala Cynwyd.
Avraham Steinberg does not see much difference between working at an 800-member congregation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and his new job as the full-time rabbi of the 60 to 70 family Young Israel of the Main Line in suburban Bala Cynwyd.

"The truth is that even when you're in an 800-member congregation, you end up having a circle that is smaller, the circle of people a rabbi hopes to have a close influence on ends up being roughly the same," said the 30-year-old Steinberg, who spent 21?2 years as the assistant rabbi at Congregation Ohab Zedek.

In July of last year, Steinberg - along with his wife and three children - moved away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and settled on the Main Line, where he is working for the first time as a head rabbi.

"I'm not really a city slicker," said Steinberg, who spent the bulk of his childhood in Teaneck, N.J.

After finishing high school, he spent two years studying Talmud at Yeshiva Toras Moshe in Jerusalem.

"It was very inspiring," he said. "Studies are one thing, but the ambiance and the general culture is another. Studying in America is great, but when the books you study have been studied for millennia, it's a special feeling."

When he returned to the United States, he made his way to Queens, studying at Yeshiva Shaar Hatorah while taking psychology courses at Touro College in the evenings.

"It compliments the rabbanus nicely," said Steinberg. "Not necessarily Pavlov's dogs, but some of the more practical psychology is certainly relevant."

After earning a degree in psychology, he then entered rabbinical school at Machon LeTorah Ulehoraah in Brooklyn, where he received his ordination.

When asked about what other possible profession he might choose if he wasn't a pulpit rabbi, Steinberg stroked his dark, trim beard and thought for a moment before answering.

He then said that, if time and money permitted, he would take a long sabbatical and study the Torah full-time.

"It's an endless pursuit," he said. "The more you know, the less you feel you know."

 

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