In addressing the North American Jewish observant community’s social and religious well-being, there is often little, if any, quality literature and even less hard data. Anecdotes and hazy notions of reality, frequently promoted by whomever has the loudest voice or quickest pen, often substitute for considered opinions by those who encounter such challenges up-close. Few have set out to study problems thoughtfully and then cultivate best practices aimed at repairing the unfortunately widespread bifurcation between religious beliefs and ritual profile, on the one hand, and behavior in social and professional contexts on the other.
The mission of the Maitiv Institute is to present thoughtful, practical solutions to modern challenges to Jewish observance, arrived at by the careful deliberation of leading and emerging thinkers. After researching and analyzing whatever data is available from Jewish and perhaps other religious communities, members of the institute will seek to identify ways in which communal professionals might respond effectively to key challenges. Based on a number of months of collaboration on a given topic, a working paper will be produced with suggested practice guidelines, specifically aimed at Orthodox communal professionals who will find such literature relevant to their work: staff, rabbinic and lay leadership within mainstream Orthodox communities. The intended result is helping leaders and laymen alike deepen the general and spiritual well-being of their constituencies.
In building a permanent study group, Maitiv is trying a collaborative approach, working toward unified presentations of whatever data is available, or, alternatively, of proposals for researching that which remains to be ascertained. Moreover, the goal is not only to identify problems, but to offer focused and practical recommendations, and to disseminate them widely, including by engaging the media.
Binyamin Ehrenkranz is the Director of Orthodox Community Initiatives for the Tikvah Fund in New York. He is a graduate of Yeshiva College, earned a master’s in Jewish history from Bernard Revel Graduate School, and obtained semicha from RIETS. He serves on the editorial committee of Jewish Action magazine, where he has also contributed several articles. He lives in Washington Heights.
Rabbi Gil Student works at a New York-based insurance company. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of TorahMusings.com and is on the editorial committee of Jewish Action magazine, where he is also the book editor and a regular contributor. He also serves on the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as facilitator of Traditional Orthodox Rabbis of America. He is the former managing editor of OU Press and president of Yashar Books, and is the author of the books, “Can the Rebbe Be Moshiach?,” "Posts Along The Way" and two volumes of "Torah Musings." He also frequently publishes in a variety of Jewish media. He graduated from Yeshiva College and lives with his wife and children in Brooklyn.
Rabbi Shalom Carmy is a professor of Philosophy and Bible at Yeshiva University, and is the editor of the Rabbinical Council of America’s flagship publication, Tradition.
Rabbi Moshe Hauer is the rabbi of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion in Baltimore, Maryland, and is a member of the editorial board of Klal Perspectives magazine.
Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger is a Rosh Yeshiva at the Yeshiva Program/Mazer School of Talmudic Studies, an undergraduate school for Talmudic studies at Yeshiva University. Rabbi Neuburger is also the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield, New Jersey.
Dr. David Pelcovitz holds the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Psychology and Jewish Education at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University, where he is also special assistant to President Richard M. Joel. In addition, Dr. Pelcovitz is an instructor in pastoral counseling at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.
Rabbi Yona Reiss is the Av Beth Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC), a Rosh Yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and Chaver Beth Din at the Beth Din of America.
Rabbi Avrohom Union is a dayan and the rabbinic administrator of the Beth Din of the Rabbinical Council of California. He is also a teacher at Bais Yaakov of Los Angeles.