Rabbi Orenstein —
In the early ’90s I accompanied my late grandparents to Rosh Hashana services at Cong. Beth El, and that’s where I heard you give a sermon which went so deeply into my heart and mind that it has – and continues – to change me. Discussing the story of Hagar leaving the dying child Ishmael in the desert, you focused on the words, ‘God heard the child “ba-asher hu sham” ‘. You spoke from such a heartfelt place about God’s care and compassion and closeness to us, no matter where we’re at — and that’s just what I needed to hear right then. I absorbed and started to use that understanding.
Some time later, when I began 12-step recovery, “ba-asher hu sham” was aleady “programmed” in me, and I took it even deeper, into my daily recovery process, where it fruited by giving me endless hope and self-acceptance. Shortly thereafter, I adopted it into my extended meditation on laying tefillin, and it is literally alive and active within me every single day. On Shabbat and holidays I often do the meditation even without the tefillin, because it is so “juicy”! Thank you so much for your lasting gifts of the heart and soul.
As an afterthought: Communicating with you around your conducting my grandmother’s 2010 funeral was such an inspiring thing because I was able to realize how you used speeh and language and intention to make me and my family feel better, to feel acknowledged with your compassion and attention and care. And I’ve started to think that part of the beauty and depth of your words is the place of caring connection that they’re coming from, like maybe the old song: “‘Tain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It; ‘Tain’t What You Say It’s The Way That You Say It.” There are precious few people in my experience who live and speak this way; you seem to be one of them. As the late Rabbi Albert Lewis (as made famous by Mitch Alboum) might have said, perhaps this is your glory.
By: David Schwartz
Dear Jehiel, We thank you and Sylvia for being a part of our lives. You inspire us by your example. You have made many passages in our lives more meaningful by your presence. We are privileged to call you our Rabbi and our friend. We embrace you both.
By: Ruth and Aaron Bernstein
Jehiel entertains at the Lebersfeld-Orenstein Yom Kippur break fast, a tradition that has lasted for 40 years and counting.
I have known Rabbi & his family ever since he arrived in South Orange. One of the first times he engaged me, he asked that I perform the Cohen function at a pidyon ben. While he could not preside at my wedding ceremony, Sylvia and he attended and he was on the bimah at Beth El for the Bar Mitzvahs of Debbi’s and my three sons. He delivered moving eulogies when my parents passed away. I especially enjoyed sharing the bimah with Rabbi the one year I served as president. Sylvia, Rabbi, their children and extended family have been such an important part of our lives. No one deserves a happier birthday than Jehiel. With love from Debbi, Jason & Illana, Daniel & Allison, Brian & Lana and Max.
By: Max & Debbi Lebersfeld
Dear Rabbi Orenstein,
There is little the Sender family can add to all the accolades posted. Like all who have had the privilege and pleasure of knowing you, we have learned from you, laughed with you, looked up to you — but not too far up, because despite your learning and accomplishments, you were never separate from us, your congregation. To our children, you are their rabbi — and the image of what a congregational rabbi can be. You are also the rabbi who lead us on our first trip to Israel. We owe so much to you! Happy Birthday, and refuah shlemah.
With love, Marianne, Stuart, Rachel, Josh, Michael and Ben Sender
By: Marianne & Stuart Sender
Hi Rabbi Orenstein,
I was sorry to read in the Jewish News of your affliction but think this is a wonderful way to honor you on your 77th Birthday. As you might recall, I taught at SSDS in West Orange many years ago. I still recall how well you listened to what I told you prior to my wedding about myself and my beliefs and how you wove it into your words to me.
I am still a teacher but I also work at Overlook Hospital in their Palliative Care department. If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. As Gemilut Hasidim, I visit the sick and try to bring comfort or at least some distraction.
I wish you a happy birthday surrounded by your loving family.
By: Debra Tambor
Rabbi Jehiel Orenstein is the paradigm of what a Rabbi should be. He is a man of exceptional intelligence, wit and wisdom with great sensitivity and compassion. Rabbi Orenstein has the most extraordinary sense of his self-worth, which makes him the perfect pulpit Rabbi. A man of such self-confidence and such a sense of the love and respect Congregation Beth El has for him that he could always comfortably welcome the best voices and the best scholars to share his bema. And he shared his bema with pride, respect and love because of his love for his congregation.
Happy birthday Rabbi.
With love, admiration and respect.
Marion and Murray Mohl
Dearest Jehiel and Sylvia,
Shalom! We send our heartfelt wishes to you both and to the whole familyI
We have constantly been touched by you, Jehiel, and Sylvia’s, love of family and love of Israel. Again and again, we have been delighted to hear that you would be joining us for yet another simcha – weddings, pidyon haben… You both have an incredible ability to make famiy get-togethers and simchas even more joyful.
You have been a guiding light in our lives and the lives of our children. You amazingly inspire, Jehiel, with a quiet comment. I recalll telling you that I was reading a book about a tzaddik, and your words of encouragement made my reading even more meaningful.
The whole family gathering in Israel, the meeting at the Kotel, all of us coming together – cousins, my mother, our children and grandchildren havae created bonds and memories that are longlasting. Jehiel, you are in our hearts and our prayers always…
May the Ribono Shel Olam bless you with our heartfelt wishes for a Refuah Shelema! May you and Sylvia and the entire family be blessed with health, happiness and joy.
Hananel and Anne Mirsky
The B’nei Mitzvah of Jessica & Stacey – 1984
Walking down the aisle at Stacey’s Wedding – Sept. 1996
Bedecking at Jessica’s wedding – June 2003
Bris of our first grandson, Mac Leibowitz – Sept. 2003
By: Joan and Harvey Bucholtz
You have shared so many of the highlights of our lives, but, evenmore meaningful are the memories of times we have no photographs to capture of those moments – Walking around the block as we entered life again after sitting shivah for a beloved parent. – Seeing you walk into our hospital rooms in Newark and Boston after our surgeries. – For all of this and so much more, we are so grateful for the part you play in our lives. With much love and Happy Birthday wishes,
– Joan and Harvey Bucholtz
Yom Huledet Samaeach to a man who has served his congregation, his community, and God as a Rav and as a Mensch. He has taught me to be a better person and rabbi.
By: Rabbi Mark Mallach