Category Archives: Avodah

Stories of how Rabbi Jehiel Orenstein influenced prayer, services, and preparations for Bar and Bat ceremonies, weddings, namings, and brises; dedications to pray or teach prayers in his honor. If reciting Mishebeirach (healing) prayers for him, please use the Hebrew name Harav Jehiel ben Malka.

Thank you!

Dear Rabbi Orenstein,

Thank you for officiating our wedding 5 1/2 years ago.  You were such a special part of that day for us.  The ceremony was beautiful, and we feel honored that you were the one to help bestow upon us our first priestly blessing as a couple.  Now we have two young children of our own, and we aspire to pass on the Jewish traditions, customs and wisdom that you so eloquently passed on to us over the years.

Sending you lots of love and strength,

Esther (Cohen) and Dan Levy

By: Esther and Dan Levy

Times Together

Jerry darling,

   Because you mean so much to us, we are looking forward to celebrating your 77th birthday with you and all your loved ones.
   There are so many happy memories of our times together that I will always treasure.  I often recall the time you found Libby and me in the hospital coffee shop to tell us the good news — “Libby,” you said, “you are now the grandmother of a baby BOY!”  We shierked with joy and you were sooo ecstatic.  We ran upstiars like two nuts. Sylvia looked so gorgeous and was so alert and rested – not like a woman who had just suffered the pains of childbirth.  I remember commenting on Rafy’s beautifully shaped lips.  I am reliving those moments right now while writing this — and smiling.   All my memoires are filled with love and laughter — alwayslaughter.  How wonderful — beautiful and lucky you and Sylvia are that you both have “upbeat” personalities; that’s a blessing.  That twinkle in your eyes, Jerry, your ready smile and your quick wit — all that came from your mom.  Mathilda was adorable and a pleasure to be with.
  As Bob Hope would say, “Thanks For the Memories.”
  We will always love you.
Estelle and Eugene Ferkauf.


By: Estelle & Eugene Ferkauf

Such a Presence

Dear Jehiel,

Thank you so much for being such a presence in the Polachek family and seamlessly picking up the mantle of your father-in-law Rabbi Israel Mowshowitz z”l in all matters spiritual and rabbinic. You have been there to comfort us and you have been there to celebrate with us. We are delighted to have this opportunity to be part of your birthday commemoration.

Much love, Linda & Richard Borkow, Hal & Rachel

By: Linda Borkow

Dear Rabbi

Beth El was our home away from home for 27 years, and its heimish atmosphere emanated from you.

You guided our children, Emily and Ari, for their b’nai mitzvah, and you set an example to all of us about scholarship and tradition and especially tolerance and understanding.

We will always treasure our memories of your leadership and friendship, and are happy to celebrate your 77th birthday with you and Sylvia.

Your special day will be filled with beautiful music. May all of your days be celebrated with sweet melodies and elegant harmonies.


Wilma & Marty Steinberg




By: Marty & Wilma Steinberg

David Schwartz

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.

Happy birthday!

With appreciation,

David Schwartz

By: David Schwartz

Breaking the Fast

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

In our hearts and prayers

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

A Few Treasured Family Memories

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

All our life passages


We met you at your first Shabbat at Beth El which just happened to be our first Shabbat also. From the very beginning you have been our rabbi: to inspire us, to educate us, to lead us on the higher road ethically, emotionally and Judaically. We have come to you through all of our life passages from Debbie’s naming, when you danced with us as the congregation wished us Mazal Tov; to the death of our parents when you travelled several times in one week to NY to comfort us; to the loving counsel you provided when our son, Michael married outside the faith and our son David divorced; and lastly to Debbie’s wedding in Atlanta where you wowed us all as you chanted the sheva brachot.

We have learned from you that in life it is not where you travel but rather with whom you journey that matters. Therefore, we honor you with love and gratitude as our rabbi, our friend and our inspiration.

Much love,

Bambi and Bob Granovsky


Warm memories

We remember back to the 60s when Rabbi Orenstein first came to Congregation Beth David of Lynbrook, LI, NY.  My Dad was synagogue President at the time and was instrumental in hiring Rabbi Orenstein.   What a turn of fate it was when Rabbi Debra joined our shul in Emerson and once again we had the pleasure of a Rabbi Orenstein on the bima!

Mazel Tov on this lovely honor.  We wish you the happiest birthday!

By: Paula and Bob Javits