Rabbi Yehuda Septimus has served as mora d’atrah of the Young Israel of North Woodmere since September 2008.
Our Rabbi focuses first and foremost on close relationships with, and addressing the needs of, every one of the families in his shul. On a communal level, he employs an approach of “synthesis of intellectual and spiritual creativity and growth.”
Rabbi Septimus has promoted North Woodmere’s unique qualities – Five Towns convenience with out-of-town warmth, Five Towns desirability with out-of-town affordability – to attract young families to the shul. At the same time, he has worked to make North Woodmere a hub of communal activity through lecturers, youth, and chesed programs attracting the entire community.
Rabbi Septimus received his semikhah as well as a Bachelors degree in English literature from Yeshiva University and received his PhD in classical Jewish history and literature from Yale University. He spent three years of intensive Torah study at Yeshivat Har Etzion, and he also studied psychology extensively and worked as a fellow at the Center for Psychotherapy Research at the University of Pennsylvania.
Rabbi Septimus began his rabbinic career at the Riverdale Jewish Center, where he served as an intern for a year, and as an assistant rabbi to Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt for three years. His communal work includes his roles as co-founder of the high school leadership program Eimatai, counselor at Camp Simchah, and communal educator at the Yeshiva of Capetown.
Rabbi Septimus has lectured at numerous synagogues and adult learning programs. He has also held positions as teaching fellow and instructor at Yale University, Gruss Scholar in Residence at the New York University School of Law, and Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University. In addition to his role as rabbi of Young Israel of North Woodmere, Rabbi Septimus teaches at Brooklyn College and continues his research in the history of prayer during the talmudic period.
His wife, Lisa, teaches limudei kodesh at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School. They are blessed with four children, Lea, Avi, Dalya, and Gila.
According to Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, of blessed memory, the holiness of objects in this world emanates from the holiness of the humans who consecrate them. This is definitely the case of kedushat beit ha-kenesset, the sanctity of a shul.
The Yerushalmi (Megillah 3:1), however, articulates a different principle: “כל כלי בית הכנסת כבית הכנסת”; “all of the vessels used in a shul take on the sanctity of the shul.” In other words, the sanctity of the shul spreads to everything used in the shul. Similarly, humans who enter and participate in a shul have the capacity to take on that sanctity, to become so to speak the vessels of the shul. Thus they are at once the sources and the beneficiaries of that sanctity. It follows that the stronger the relationship between the shul and its people, the stronger the sanctity – of both the shul and the humans who inhabit its space.
The Young Israel of North Woodmere prides itself on its people – their warmth, their goodness, and their capacity thus to create a shul of sanctity built on the principles of Torat Chesed, a Torah of loving kindness. We welcome you – for a Shabbat, for a weekday davenning, for learning, for a shiur, for an event, or just to say hello. It would be a pleasure to have you join us on our mission of at once creating and drawing from our of kedushat beit ha-kenesset.