I had the pleasure of interviewing Rabbi Mordechai Zeitz, outgoing Rabbi of the Beth Tikvah Congregation in Dollard des Ormeaux on my radio show this past Sunday. We spoke about many things, but mostly the past and future of the Montreal Jewish Community.
I don’t often say this, but it is a must hear interview, as Rabbi Zeitz’s view on the future of Modern Orthodoxy and the future of Jewish Education in Montreal are revealing and thought provoking.
For those of you who missed it, please click on the following link:
For archives of the full show, visit www.truetalkradio.com
Rabbi Dr. Mordecai E. Zeitz is the founding Rabbi and current Spiritual Leader of Congregation Beth Tikvah Ahavat Shalom Nusach Hoari as well as the founder of the Hebrew Foundation School and currently its Education Director. These are the two major institutions in the still growing Jewish Community of Dollard Des Ormeaux, a bustling suburb on the West Island of Montreal.
Coming with his wife Charlotte to a newly developed outpost with about 20 families, Rabbi Zeitz, with amazing community support, has seen the Synagogue grow into a facility servicing 800 families. It serves as the Jewish center for the entire community, affiliated or not. Whether it be Religious Services, youth, Supplementary Jewish Education, family experience programming, pre-school programming or senior citizen services, the Synagogue has a place and program for all. With the Rabbi’s guidance, both synagogue and day school have enjoyed parallel growth and success. Rabbi Zeitz has distinguished himself in being a ‘hands on’ leader who leads by example.
Rabbi Zeitz was born and educated in New York, earning a BA, an MA and doctorate degrees from Yeshiva University, and his semicha from its affiliated rabbinical school, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He answered Yeshiva’s call to help start up a new community in a new area which held much promise. The shidduch has been a happy and successful partnership for close to 50 years.
From the beginning, Rabbi Zeitz stressed education in all areas of community development. This opened the doors to many who were searching for their Jewish roots and offered a place for them to grow non-judgmentally at their own pace. That is the founding and lasting principle of the rabbi’s work.
It is this same philosophy which has enabled him to be involved in all areas of Community, be it with Federation, Congress, Israel Bonds, diverse Rabbinic organizations as well as having served as the President of the Jewish Education Council of Montreal. He serves on the RCA-Montreal Region Bet Din for conversions and a host of other organizations. He is as well the Jewish Chaplain at the Montreal General Hospital and the Lakeshore General Hospital. He is the recipient of many awards including a Chair at the Azrieli School of Education at Yeshiva University and the Bernard Revel Memorial award in Religion and Religious Education.
Israel has always been a key part of the religious and educational philosophy projected by the Synagogue and articulated by the Rabbi. Talking Israel is good, but doing and living Israel is even better!
As a result of this philosophy, the Rabbi has personally led over 25 missions to Israel which have included over 2000 persons. His pilgrimages are well known for enabling Israel’s message to touch the hearts and souls of the participants, thus creating a strengthened bond with the country and one’s personal Jewish identity. The hands-on creative programming of these missions has left an indelible mark on countless individuals and families many of whom have traveled to Israel with him more than once, always coming away with some new and refreshing insights. Rabbi’s Zeitz’s Missions to Israel continued unabated during the wars and in the midst of the Intifada, a fact much appreciated and recognized by the State of Israel and its citizens. In conjunction with Mizrachi Organization of Canada, the Rabbi Dr. Mordecai Zeitz Scholarship has been established to create a program to bring young married couples for a ten day stay in Israel on an annual basis so as to imbue the spirit and pride of Jewish commitment in the next generation. The program will be have a variety of components so as to kickstart the existent potentials of future Jewish leadership.
Rabbi Zeitz is married to Charlotte and they are blessed with two married children, one living in Israel and the other in New York, and 2 grandchildren.