In addition to being senior rabbi at Beth Jacob Congregation in Columbus, Rabbi Avi Goldstein, “helped with volunteers (at) homeless shelters, and inspires his congregation to give to (Columbus) Torah Academy and the Columbus (Community) Kollel, and has personally been responsible for bringing many Orthodox families to Berwick and strengthened our synagogue,” according to his nominator.
“Our membership has increased and the spirit of Judaism along with it,” the nominator said of Beth Jacob, referring to Goldstein’s efforts.
What inspires you to give back to the community?
I believe that Hashem put each and every one of us here to make as big an impact on the Jewish people and the world at large as possible. I am eternally grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve the Columbus Jewish community.
Was there ever a turning point or shift that made you change how you approach community service or become active in the Jewish world?
I had the opportunity in my mid-twenties to do Jewish outreach in an elite SEED program in Sydney, Australia. I was so inspired by being able to give back in such a dynamic way to the Jewish people. It helped me realize certain talents and skills that I possessed and the impact that I could make.
Did you have any mentors? If so, what was your relationship to them and how did they impact you?
Rabbi Zvi Berkowitz was my rebbe in Ner Israel Rabbinical College and my primary mentor. He was able to role model and communicate what a Torah scholar and rabbi should value and stand for. In applied rabbincs, my primary role model was Rabbi Moshe Hauer, the current executive vice president of the Orthodox Union. He provided an inspiring model for the impact a congregational rabbi can have on a community.
I would add that I learned a tremendous amount from my fellow students in yeshiva. Many of them were exceptional individuals who have gone on to make meaningful contributions to the Jewish world.
What’s one takeaway you have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?
One takeaway from the pandemic is how important a proactive and positive mindset is. Despite the challenges of COVID, we have had numerous successes. We always remained focused on building and growing and not just “treading water.”