Rabbi David to head local Aish HaTorah


Rabbi Elazar Grunberger, Aish HaTorah St. Louis’ longtime director, is passing on the torch of leadership after 24 years to Rabbi Yosef David.

Grunberger came to St. Louis in 1985 from Jerusalem to direct Aish’s first outreach center outside of Israel at the request of the organization’s founder, the late Rabbi Noah Weinberg. Grunberger has watched the local organization grow over the years — it now has at least 1,500 to 2,000 different participants at their programs, said Grunberger.


Grunberger will continue to play an active role in the organization –teaching, providing leadership and board development and executive learning through lunch-and-learns and private appointments. He continues as the rabbi at University City Shul (Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Sha’arei Chesed) and sits on Aish’s international board.

“Four years ago, Rabbi Weinberg asked me to be part of the 10-person international executive board,” Grunberger said. “I also have a role in the international organization as the liaison for North America.”

Grunberger has been the driving force behind the organization’s growth, from its beginning when he taught classes in his own apartment, to the organization securing its own apartment and then a U. City storefront center. It moved into its current location in Chesterfield in 1999: the Gloria & Rubin Feldman Aish HaTorah Center for Jewish Studies, fondly known as the “Firehouse.”

“However, our greatest true success is not in bricks and mortar,” Grunberger said. “It is in the people whose lives we’ve touched and how far reaching that is — for them as Jewish individuals and us as a Jewish community.”

Grunberger gives countless examples of Jews who have participated in Aish educational programs and have gone on to join synagogues, organizations and become actively involved in Jewish community.

“This is what creating a renaissance is about,” Grunberger said. “It is about disconnected or unaffiliated Jews leading themselves to more Jewish-connected lives. This is how we build the Jewish people, the Jewish community.”

Past President Joan Silber also facilitated the organization’s Strategic Planning Process. She has worked with Grunberger for a number of years and is touched by the way he cares so deeply for the inner spirit and growth of each individual. Silber has seen from the inside out and the outside in what Grunberger and the organization have done for “so many people in the community.”

“I have seen a positive transformation in so many individuals, children and their children’s children,” Silber said. “Rabbi Grunberger’s impact can be felt across every branch of Judaism.”

Grunberger appointed Rabbi Yosef David to be his successor. David moved to St. Louis in August 2007 and has been serving as the organization’s programming director.

“Rabbi David has done a phenomenal job of outreach and programming since arriving in St. Louis,” Grunberger said. “He has really nurtured the organization.”

Many people connected with Aish agree Grunberger set the bar high and his successor has some big shoes to fill. They also have no doubts that David is just the man to do it.

“We are very grateful to Rabbi Grunberger for his last 25 years of service,” Aish HaTorah Board President Dan Winograd said. “He did a fantastic job. We also have confidence in the abilities of Rabbi David and are confident he can continue to carry the torch.”

Silber is also very excited about David’s new role and his vision for the future

“Rabbi David brings his own personal energy and enthusiasm to the position,” Silber said. “He and his wife Miriam live close to the Firehouse and have a very open-door policy. They are very accepting of people wherever they are in relationship to their Judaism. I anticipate seeing an increase in family programs and other intergenerational programs.”

David is looking forward to Aish St. Louis continuing to inspire Jews to look into Judaism to find answers and educate themselves. Through education, people can live more fulfilling and complete Jewish lives, said David. He is also looking forward to more collaborative programming with other Jewish organizations and synagogues.

“I have a major vision on the importance of a team approach and the impact it can have on Jewish individuals and the Jewish community,” David said. “I play on a basketball team at the JCC. I enjoy a team game. It is about engaging and empowering participants to be inspired and carry that message to the entire community.”

David will be tapping into and using more of the national and international resources of Aish HaTorah. He is planning on growing the women’s programming and is also looking forward to continuing to work with Educational Director Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald and Office Manager Albert Glassman, who continue in their current positions.