The Fleetwood Synagogue is getting a new rabbi. After serving the Fleetwood community for 15 years, Rabbi Gedalyah Berger is pursuing other opportunities and Rabbi Daniel Rosenfelt will be assuming responsibility as the senior rabbi of the growing shul in this small Westchester town.
After a rigorous selection process that lasted at least seven months involving the review of more than 20 candidates, Rabbi Rosenfelt was selected by a committee and the community. Growing up in Baltimore, he was involved in an unlikely role for a current pulpit rabbi: sports radio. While in high school and thereafter, Rabbi Rosenfelt was an interviewer for 1090 WBAL, the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens flagship. He also freelanced for the Baltimore Jewish Times.
So what brought him to the rabbinate? When he attended yeshiva in Israel for a year, he had a “tremendous experience” at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah in Ramat Beit Shemesh, which steered him into more Jewish-focused pursuits. He studied psychology at Towson University, but his drive to work in Judaism brought him to Ner Israel’s Rabbinical College’s smicha program while he simultaneously completed a Masters of Arts in pastoral counseling at Loyola University.
After school wrapped up, Rabbi Rosenfelt served as the assistant rabbi in Baltimore at the Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim. While living in Baltimore, he also trained at the chaplaincy program offered by Johns Hopkins University, served as the director and primary instructor for senior Jewish learning at the Etz Chaim Center and was a rabbinic consultant as part of a federal grant with CHANA, the city’s domestic violence program.
Rabbi Rosenfelt’s move up north came with an offer to join the Young Israel of Holliswood community, where he was the shul’s associate rabbi. He also taught junior high classes at the Yeshiva of Central Queens, a position he will be continuing during this academic year as well. His wife, Amanda, will continue to work at her role at the Bais Yaakov in Queens while also running the American office of Bnot Torah, Sharfman School for Girls, as its financial director. Of their time in Queens, Rabbi Rosenfelt said, “We really enjoyed our time there in Queens. The community has been amazing to us.”
But all good things come to an end—and often turn into better things. With the offer to lead the congregation at the Fleetwood Synagogue, Rabbi Rosenfelt is looking forward to what lies ahead. “We’re really excited about this new journey, and really happy to help the community grow and to show people what an incredible well-kept secret . . . Fleetwood is,” he said.
Founded in 1958, Fleetwood Synagogue is a modern Orthodox congregation that serves lower Westchester, and is located five minutes from Riverdale and New Rochelle. The small community meets the needs of all types of diverse congregants and offers daily minyanim, an eruv that is forever growing and now, a new young rabbi. Together with his wife, Rabbi Rosenfelt have two daughters who are 2 and 5 years old, and they intend to help build the community to be bigger and stronger than before.
“Fleetwood Mount Vernon is a gem of a community whose secret is getting out,” said Robert Sidlow, co-chair of the Rabbinic Search Committee. “We felt that Rabbi Rosenfelt, together with his wife, Amanda, are the perfect blend of warmth, humanity, energy and dedication to Torah that our community was looking for,” said Sidlow. “Our kehilla is thrilled to have recruited the Rosenfelts, and we are eagerly looking forward to their friendship and leadership.”
by Tamar Weinberg