SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. -- Michael Dick, the newest rabbi at Congregation Sons of Israel in Spring Valley, has led from the pulpit from all over the world.
Dick was recently named rabbi at the historic synagogue, one of the oldest in Rockland County, having previously served in Manhattan, Ohio, Switzerland, Germany, and England. He replaces Daniel Epstein.
"It came out of the blue," Dick said about his appointment to the traditional synagogue. "But it seems to be working for us."
The new rabbi is hoping to increase the visibility of the synagogue. Dick said many people drive by the synagogue and don't even know it exists. About 40 families belong to the synagogue.
"We're looking to make the synagogue grow and bring some people back," Dick said. "We're going to give it our best effort."
It will be a busy few weeks at the synagogue with the High Holidays coming up. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 20 while Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins on the evening of Friday, Sept. 29. Dick said he doesn't mind the packed schedule.
"I know the drills," Dick said. "It's important to meet the needs of the congregation. You have to make sure your congregant has your attention."
Dick said his services feature a lot of singing and he tries to make sure everyone feels included. He said he refrains from being political in his sermons.
As the rabbi, Dick is hoping to help smooth over differences that have occurred in the East Ramapo School District between the Orthodox Jews and the rest of the community. He said he was aghast at the recent events in Charlottesville.
"I would hope there is very little anti-Semitism in Rockland," Dick said. "I'm here to meet the needs of the local inhabitants. The role of a spiritual leader is to help make peace. I hope the people in the county are able to overcome their differences, so we can live in peace and harmony."
Congregations Sons of Israel is at 80 Williams Avenue in Spring Valley. For more information, contact 845-352-6767.
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