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RIETS Annual Evening of Tribute

Rabbinical Seminary Honors Communal Leaders and Educators at Annual Dinner

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), an affiliate of Yeshiva University, will celebrate dedicated leaders and educators of the Jewish community at its Annual Gala Evening of Tribute on Sunday, March 8, 2015 at The Grand Hyatt in New York City. The dinner will honor the memory of Herb Smilowitz, z”l, as well as Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division, and Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg, director of the Morris and Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future.

“Vital in its approach and vibrant in its tradition, RIETS has provided an unsurpassed educational experience in the classic mold of the great yeshivot for more than a century,” said Joel Schreiber, chair of RIETS. “The seminary is a fountain of great Torah wisdom and a pre-eminent source of professional rabbinic leadership for the next generation and beyond.”

Smilowitz served on the RIETS board for more than 20 years, including his most recent position as vice chairman. He and his wife, Marilyn, were Yeshiva University Benefactors. Smilowitz was chairman of the board at Congregation AABJ&D of West Orange, New Jersey, to which he and Marilyn dedicated a beit midrash, as well as several Jewish day schools, and served as president of the Jewish Education Center of Elizabeth. He was an active leader in the New Jersey MetroWest Federation, strengthening Jewish life in America and Israel.

At RIETS, Smilowitz received the Heritage Award in 1987 and then its highest honor, the Eitz Chaim Award, in 2002. Together with his son, Rabbi Mark Smilowitz of Beit Shemesh, Israel, he received the inaugural Father/Son Israel America Award in 2008. At this year’s dinner, the RIETS community will honor his lifetime of commitment to enhancing Torah learning at RIETS.

menachem genack Rabbi Menachem Genack

Rabbi Genack ’65YUHS ’69YC ’73R, a RIETS musmach and Rosh Yeshiva, will receive the Harav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik z”l Aluf Torah Award in recognition of the far-reaching impact he has made on Torah Judaism worldwide. Rabbi Genack was a talmid of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, who deeply influenced his Torah personality. As CEO of OU Kosher, he oversees the kosher certification of more than 600,000 products in 10,500 facilities in more than 80 countries, and has also published dozens of important volumes on many topics as founder and general editor of OU Press. Former president Bill Clinton referred to Rabbi Genack as his rabbi in a forward written for Rabbi Genack’s recent book, Letters to President Clinton: Biblical Lessons on Faith and Leadership, and Rabbi Genack also studies weekly with former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. In 2008, The Forward listed him as one of the “Forward 50,” the 50 most influential Jews in the U.S. In addition to having served as rabbi of Congregation Shomrei Emunah for close to 30 years, Rabbi Genack gives a regular chaburah at RIETS.

Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg

Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg ‘80YC ’82F ’83R will receive the Distinguished Rabbinic Leadership Award. Rabbi Schwarzberg has served as director of the Morris and Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement for Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future since 2005, placing hundreds of rabbis in every possible rabbinic position and a multiplicity of settings and job descriptions. His advice to congregations who seek rabbis has been also been an invaluable to helping them find the right candidate for the right reasons. Rabbi Schwarzberg previously served as a pulpit rabbi at Congregation Ahavas Achim in Highland Park, New Jersey, bringing with him a passionate commitment to the principles of ahavat yisrael, political activism and reaching out to other communities. He also developed Ahavas Achim University, an innovative educational endeavor that enlists top-tier scholars and religious leaders to teach at the synagogue. Rabbi Schwarzberg has held positions on the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County and the National Rabbinic Cabinet of the United Jewish Communities.

To learn more about the RIETS Annual Gala Evening of Tribute, make a reservation or to participate in the Scroll of Honor, call 212-960-0852 or email