Rabbi Hillel Gruber
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Welwyn Garden City Synagogue
The minister serving the small Herts congregation was born in America and was six when his family moved to Israel. He returned to the US to attend yeshivot and gained his semichah in New Jersey. He came to England to further his studies and was appointed at Welwyn last year, endearing himself to members by turning up on their doorsteps before Rosh Hashanah to hand over a jar of honey and an apple. Rabbi Gruber — who trained as an army chaplain in Israel during the Lebanon War — is married with three young daughters
Tell us about a typical week at the synagogue
This is a part-time position, so my main focus is the Shabbat services. We have monthly adult education where we cover a wide variety of thought-provoking subjects. I also run a children’s service once a month and re-established the cheder, together with my wife Risa. There are pastoral visits, including to the local university and primary schools, and I have made an effort to visit the many unaffiliated Jews in the outlying towns.
In addition, I give many classes each week, including shiurim in Talmud and Chasidic philosophy at Hendon Chabad, halachah at the Edgware Seminary and Chasidic thought at Lubavitch Girls School. I also give one-on-one sessions to people wishing to further their Jewish knowledge.
Tell us what you like most about your role
Sharing my love of Judaism with others.
What do you do in your time off?
We enjoy child-centred activities, mainly in the surrounding countryside. I make sure, as much as my schedule allows, to spend quality time with my children. I have an extensive library and enjoy furthering my knowledge of Talmud and Jewish law.
Define your Judaism
Adhering to Torah while embracing the full spectrum of society.