September 2018 -- Elul-Tishrei 5779,  Volume 24, Issue 9

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Rabbi Levi Welton Delivers

‘State of the Union’ Address

for Yom Kippur

By Stephen E. Lipken


 Lincoln Park Jewish Center, Yonkers (LPJC) recently welcomed Rabbi Levi Welton, 35 along with a Homecoming for Cantor Eric S. Freeman, who was LPJC Chazzan from 2003 until 2014.


Originally raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rabbi Welton comes from Berkley, California and has been a Rabbi since 2005.  “I worked in various countries, including Australia for a Chabad interfaith organization.  I have served communities in New York, San Francisco and most recently, Rabbi at Hampton Synagogue in West Hampton Beach.”


Preparing for his Rosh Hashanah sermon, Rabbi Welton noted that the word actively translates as the “Head of the Year.”  “’Rosh’ is Hebrew for ‘head...,’” Welton said. “On those two days of Rosh Hashanah, you have to get into the ‘head space,’ how you think and how you view the world…


“It is not necessarily a day to pray for the Jewish people to be signed into the Book of Life...


“The Rosh Hashanah Liturgy talks about praying for the entire world including animals, plants and all creatures G-d has created…


“Once we have the head space, what comes below are the arms and feet.  We must act to make the world into a sweet and G-dly place…


“For my Yom Kippur theme, I am doing a ‘State of the Union’ Address and talk about what happened with the Jewish community both locally and globally, tying that into a central message.”


Queried about his vision for LPJC, Welton answered that synagogues should learn from businesses and how they run.  “I would approach this like a ‘start up,’ even though it is an established synagogue, because it is entering a new phase, particularly with membership and local community...”


Youth programs are the majority of my experience,” Welton added.  “I was the proud Youth Director of the Carlebach Shul for over 5 years.  Regarding singles, I would have to get to know singles in the neighborhood.  I started a non-profit called the Torah Values Network for singles in the City…(” Rabbi Welton and Rebbetzen (wife) Chavi have a 1 ½ year-old son, David.


Appearing only for the High Holidays, Freeman is Associate Director of Philip and Sarah Belz School of Jewish Music, Yeshiva University; Musical Director, Choir of Khal Adath Jeshrun in Washington Heights and monthly Cantor-in-residence of Old Broadway Synagogue in Manhattan.


LPJC was sold to Congregation Vayetar Yitzhok Synagogue (VYS) in Brooklyn in 2017.  Services will continue until VYS lease expires on Friday, January 31, 2020 as LPJC searches for a new home.