Two weeks after the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills honored its founding rav, Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld zt”l, with a street sign dedication, it welcomed its new mara d’asra, Rabbi Daniel Rosenfelt, and his family, to the pulpit.
“This will be their first official Shabbos at the shul. He is pleasant, well-mannered, warm, and caring. It has been a pleasure to deal with him,” said shul president Stuart Verstandig.
A musmach of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, Rabbi Rosenfelt is familiar with the communal scene in Queens from his past position as a rabbinic intern at the Young Israel of Holliswood and his work across the street at the Yeshiva of Central Queens, where he serves as the Junior high school rebbe, teaching Gemara to boys and Mishnah to girls.
“It is very gratifying to know that one of our faculty is regarded as a leader in our community,” said YCQ Principal Rabbi Mark Landsman.
Rebbetzin Amanda Rosenfelt was raised in Cedarhurst and teaches third grade secular studies at the Bais Yaakov Academy of Queens. To expand on the new rabbi’s knowledge of Queens, Verstandig introduced him to the local elected officials, civic leaders, and the 107th Precinct. He noted that the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills is a historic shul that was among the earliest in the neighborhood. At the same time, it offers programs for people of all ages.
“We definitely were attracted to the rich history of the shul and Kew Gardens Hills as a whole,” Rabbi Rosenfelt said. He appreciated networking with local leaders and activists, recognizing that, in contrast to his previous pulpit, the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills is part of a larger community that is outspoken in Jewish causes and politically active.
“It’s about the energy and being available,” he said.
In his inaugural Shabbos, the Young Marrieds Minyan will join the main minyan with Carlebach-style davening led by Rabbi Ophie Nat, who also teaches at the YCQ Junior High School. This event will be followed up with a fun Sunday afternoon for children on September 18, with a bubble show, and a creative women’s evening with Rebbetzin Amanda Rosenfelt on Tuesday, September 20. The couple has four children, who join their parents as active members of their new community.
Prior to his election at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Rabbi Rosenfelt led the Fleetwood Synagogue in Mount Vernon since 2016. During his time in that community, he listened to its members as they discussed and approved a higher mechitzah, spoke at public vigils on behalf of the shul, and organized a drive-by Chanukah party during the height of the pandemic.
Before arriving in Fleetwood in September of 2016, Rabbi Rosenfelt had served as the Associate Rabbi at the Young Israel of Holliswood. Prior to that, he spent two and a half years as the Assistant Rabbi at Toras Chaim in his hometown of Baltimore. Additionally, Rabbi Rosenfelt has been a Rabbinic Consultant for Jewish Women International to help prevent possible domestic abuse in the Orthodox community in Baltimore.
Along with his semichah from Ner Israel, Rabbi Rosenfelt also graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University in Maryland.
By Sergey Kadinsky