New Shepherd, New Spirit
At Young Israel of Southfield, Rabbi Morris seems a perfect fit.
Special to the Jewish News
rading sunglasses for snow
boots has its drawbacks,
but for Rabbi Yechiel
Morris of Young Israel of
Southfield, the decision to move
from sunny Florida to seasonal
Michigan was an easy one.
"There is a real sense of excite-
ment amid the synagogue," said
Rabbi Morris, who took over his
first pulpit last August. "The Detroit
Jewish community is very warm and
The search process for a new spir-
itual leader for Young Israel began
when Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg
decided to devote full-time hours to
the "Kids Kicking Cancer" program,
which provides support to children
who are ill and their families. Rabbi
Goldberg, who remains as rabbi
emeritus, served Young Israel for 18
Members of the search commit-
tee, 'co-chaired by Southfield resi-
dents Dr. Jeffrey Goldenberg and
Jack Zwick, who is also the current
president of the synagogue, were
impressed with Rabbi Morris' cre-
dentials and his enthusiasm.
"We wanted someone with strong
training, a solid background and an
intense amount. of Zionism," Zwick
"It was a difficult search because
we were happy with Rabbi Gold-
berg," said Dr. Daniel Gotlib of
Southfield, past president of the syn-
agogue and member of the search
committee. "We were looking for
someone new to 'shepherd our
flock,' someone who was compatible
with our philosophy of modern
Orthodoxism and pro-Zionism."
A native of Rochester, N.Y.,
Rabbi Morris graduated in 2002
from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan
Theological Seminary, which is part
of Yeshiva University in New York.
His first job was at a community
kollel in Boca Raton, Fla.
His strong rabbinic background
was also an advantage, according to
Zwick. Both his father and grandfa-
ther were pulpit rabbis, and his
great-grandfather, Rabbi Eliezer
Silver of Harrisburg, Pa, and
Cincinnati, Ohio, was considered
one of the country's leading 20th- •
After an individual meeting,
Rabbi Morris was invited to bring
his wife, Adina, and their 14-
month-old son, Dovid, to Southfield .
for a weekend to meet with several
synagogue members and give a sam-
ple sermon to congregants.
Rabbi Morris returned to Florida
enthused about Young Israel and the
Detroit area in general.
He was thrilled when he received
the invitation to become Young
Israel of Southfield's new rabbi.
"I could have stayed in Boca and
enjoyed the weather, but it was time
for a change," said Rabbi Morris.
Bringing New Ideas •
One of his primary goals is to make
the synagogue more attractive to
both new and existing members by
implementing more programs, spe-
cial events and learning opportuni-
RABBI on page 42
Young Israel of Southfield's Rabbi Yechiel Morris