By: Jacob Rosenfeld | News  | 

Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz Hired as RIETS Director of Semikha Program

Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, currently a Senior Magid Shiur at Lander College for Men, will become the Director of Semikha at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) for the Fall 2019 semester, according to Rabbi Menachem Penner, Dean of RIETS.

When asked what Rabbi Lebowitz’s role will entail, Rabbi Penner said, “He will give a semikha level shiur and develop relationships with all of the fellows in the semikha program. He will also interact with undergraduates in many different forums.”

The news broke on Wednesday, Feb. 14, when Rabbi Elly Storch tweeted that Rabbi Lebowitz will be “going to @YUNews [sic].” Following this tweet, murmurs of Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz’s name could be heard all over campus. The hire was later confirmed by Rabbi Penner.

In recent years, Rabbi Lebowitz has become a favorite of many students that may not have even met him. This due to his extreme popularity on YUTorah, where he has over 7,400 easy-to-understand, high-level shiurim uploaded — the most of any speaker on the website. Rabbi Penner referred to him as “a superstar educator and rav … We are excited … to be able to bring him back ‘home’ in a role that allows him to significantly impact the future of the North American Jewish community.”

Rabbi Lebowitz is an alumnus of Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh. Following his studies in Israel, he studied in Sy Syms School of Business and remained in RIETS following graduation. During his studies in the Undergraduate Torah Studies (UTS) program and subsequently RIETS, he became — and remains — a very close talmid of RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter. He went on to also receive semikha from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Following his tenure as Assistant Rabbi at Shaaray Tefilah, a shul in Lawrence, Rabbi Lebowitz established the shul of Beis Haknesses of North Woodmere in 2004, where he is currently the rabbi. Rabbi Lebowitz was a magid shiur at Davis Renov Stahler (DRS) Yeshiva High School until two and a half years ago when he was hired as a Senior Magid Shiur at Lander College for Men, a division of Touro College.

In an announcement on Wednesday, Feb.13 in the Lander Beis Medrash, Rabbi Yonason Sacks, Rosh Yeshiva of Lander College for Men, and former YU rosh yeshiva, said, “[Rabbi Lebowitz] was granted an unusual opportunity to be a part of the semikha program at RIETS and he has accepted that opportunity for the fall.” He then proceeded to thank Rabbi Lebowitz for all of his contributions to the yeshiva.

Rabbi Lebowitz was then called upon to speak and said that “although he [Rabbi Sacks] didn’t say it, there’s no doubt that the rosh yeshiva does not agree, necessarily, with this decision, but his incredible middos, his incredible ahava that he has for his talmidim, who I am fortunate to count myself among, is what led me to allow me just offer words of hakaras hatov.” Rabbi Lebowitz praised Lander and the rebbeim.

Students around YU are clearly excited about the news. When asked, Rabbi Menachem Penner said he is very excited as well about the news. Last week, Rabbi Penner retweeted Rabbi Lebowitz’s Feb. 8 tweet: “‘one of the most effective ways to become great is by joining a great team’ - Dr. Dan Chambliss #chevra.” Some viewed this retweet as a forerunner to the announcement, although it was likely a coincidence.

Meir Avracen (YC ‘21), a longtime talmid of Rabbi Lebowitz, expressed how excited he was to hear the news that Rabbi Lebowitz would be joining the staff and said, “Almost as impressive as Rabbi Lebowitz’s breadth of Torah knowledge is his ability to step into his students’ shoes when issuing piskei halakhah and offering personal advice. This, along with his characteristic humility, constant positivity and immeasurable kindness, will greatly inspire the talmidim of the yeshiva for years to come.”

As of the time of publication, Rabbi Lebowitz could not be reached for comment.


Photo Caption: Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz
Photo Credit: Touro College & University System