New Associate Rabbi arrives at Temple Israel with plans to give ‘small synagogue feel’

New Temple Israel Associate Rabbi Daniel Schweber has come to Great Neck with the hope of giving a small synagogue feel to a large synagogue community.

“I see my position, working with Rabbi Stecker, is to help bring some of that small Synagogue feel to a larger synagogue that has a lot of resources,” Schweber said. “It’s my role to get to know the toddler’s and their families and give them that Synagogue feel where ‘Oh, look the Rabbi can pay attention to me’ because that’s the challenge of a large Synagogue. They can just become names.”

Schweber came to Temple Israel at the beginning of August following six years at Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale, where he was the only rabbi.

Shaarei Tikvah is a small synagogue of only 170 household members, so Schweber said it is a big change to go to a much bigger synagogue such as Temple Israel, with a membership of 875 households.

Schweber said being at a larger Synagogue is a little overwhelming, but he is excited about the prospect of working with a team, rather than just by himself.

“What’s nice about being here, it’s a little overwhelming as well, but I get to work with a team led by Howard Stecker, who is the senior rabbi,” Schweber said. “I am looking forward very much to working with a team with him and all of the staff here.”

As well as working in a larger synagogue, Schweber said, he loves that Great Neck has a diverse Jewish community even though he knows that there are differences between the various groups, something he said he wants to work against.

“I love it. I embrace it. During my time in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, it was a small Jewish community where every Jew counts,” Schweber said. “The infighting that sometimes happens between Jews, to me, is very detrimental. I will work to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Schweber’s Jewish upbringing began, he said, where he was born on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

His parents Ken, who is now deceased, and Ellie raised him in a conservative Jewish household.

“My mother was very much into going into synagogue,” Schweber said. “And my father was very much a Jewish study person.”

Schweber said he recalls going with his family to Ansche Chesed, a conservative Jewish synagogue on the Upper West Side, a lot as a youth.

While his parents played a big role in his Jewish background, Schweber said his experiences at a conservative Jewish summer camp helped found his background.

“Another thing that’s really founded my background was Camp Ramah in the Berkshires,” Schweber said. “I was a camper for seven years then I was a staff member for seven years.”

Schweber said that the camp helped him connect with the youth and teenagers, something he wants to continue doing at Temple Israel.

“Another cohort that I want to work in is the youth and the teens,” Schweber said. “Danny Mishkin is the head of the youth house and I am very much looking forward to working with him to engage the teens and get to know the teens. That’s something I have a lot of experience in.”

Today, Schweber lives in Great Neck with his wife Sarah, whom he met during his time at the University of Michigan, and their twin daughters who just began third grade.

While he said he enjoyed life in Scarsdale, Schweber said he and his wife are looking forward to their newfound lives in Great Neck.

“We are looking forward to a new, exciting chapter in our lives,” Schweber said. “We have been very impressed with the Great Neck community, whether it be the parks department or the school district, everything so far we have been very happy with.”

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Joe Nikic

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