Raised in European Tradition, He Focuses on Community Needs


dov-halperinThe Jewish Exponent reports:

Dov Halperin was born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium; and when he finally came to the United States 11 years ago, what surprised him the most, he said, was the many divisions within the American Jewish community. In Europe, he said, “a Jew is a Jew, and some people are more observant and some are less observant, and you don’t fix people in a box.”

He observed that American Jews tend to fixate on denominational differences, rather than on their many similarities.

Halperin leads Knesset HaSefer, the Educational Synagogue of Yardley, and though he’s now the full-time rabbi, prior to this, he’d assisted the shul’s previous rabbi, Yitzchok Feldheim.

In his opinion, the biggest hurdle facing Jews today is ignorance of Jewish history.

“We know more about other religions than our own,” he lamented, “and I truly believe that Jewish education is the promise for the Jewish community.”

The 42-year-old father of six said that his father, who worked in Antwerp’s diamond trade, wanted him to follow in the family business. But Halperin said he wanted to make the world a better place, and so put his efforts toward the rabbinate. He was ordained at Beth Medrash Govoha, in Lakewood, N.J., but noted that he still feels connected to the European idea of a rabbi as someone who supports the entire community, not just those who pay synagogue dues.

“A community rabbi should be accessible to people who aren’t even members” of the congregation, he said, adding that he views that as a principle responsibility of a religious leader.

{The Jewish Exponent/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Interesting insight yet I believe it lacks actuality. (maybe he is speaking about Antwerp only)
    Friends who grew up in England have said that the polarization of Jews of different types within the shomer shabbos community is HUGE, and there are hardly ever community events that will draw crowds of all Yidden. Here in NY (even in Flatbush), diversity is seen, if u look for it, in many shuls. On my kids block there are kids that go to Yeshiva of Bklyn, CHaim Berlin, Shulamith, Magan David, Ateret, CHofetz Chaim, Barkai, Derech Hatorah and Torah Temimah. They play ball (shame shame), ride bikes, jump rope and occasionally talk to each other. (It will probably change as they go into highschool/mesiftas).

  2. This article was printed in the Jewish Exponent. The audience is a non frun audience. Rabbi Halperin was pointing out that in Antwerp there are no different affiliations rather all believe in orthodox theology, some are more observant some less.

  3. I was at his Shabbos Sheva Brochos, it seems like so recently. His wife is the daughter of prominent attorney Allen Rothenberg and an educated person in her own right. I wish him much success in this position.