Baltimore’s Rabbi Moshe Hauer will succeed Allen Fagin later this year as the next executive vice president of the Orthodox Union. While Hauer will join OU May 1, he will take the executive vice president title July 1.
The OU is the nation’s oldest and largest umbrella organization for the North American Orthodox Jewish community. Founded in 1898, OU serves 400 congregations in its synagogue network. It has 24,000 participants as of 2019, and is expected to continue to grow. It leads advocacy work, outreach to Jewish teens, and professional development through programs and trips to Israel among other methods.
Hauer is the senior rabbi of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion in Baltimore. He has worked there for 25 years, and he is active in local communal leadership, education, programs for at-risk children, and social service organizations. He delivers frequent keynotes and lectures at OU programs.
Hauer, who will largely stay in Baltimore in his new role, plans to approach this opportunity from three directions in order to expand the platform and positively impact the Jewish community.
“First, any Jewish leadership starts with attending to the needs of the people, to their fears, concerns, one person to another,” he said. A strong rabbinate is based on the community, he explained. It means facing the community’s family struggles and confronting anti-Semitism. Secondly, he said, “We are all members of the Jewish community,” and he wants to strengthen that bond of identity. Thirdly, he aims to strengthen the role of Torah and wants the OU to “encourage a passionate and engaged community.”
In 2014, OU leaders urged Fagin to assume the executive vice president role. He agreed and stayed for more than six years, according to OU President Moishe Bane. Last year, Fagin notified the OU’s executive committee that he planned to retire in the fall of 2020, according to a press release. The committee then created a comprehensive succession plan. They chose a rabbinic leader to spearhead its community-oriented efforts and to serve as the professional religious and policy leader of the organization.
“[The decision] was made over a very long period of time,” said Bane.
Each member of the committee met with Hauer separately, and they unanimously decided that he both understood the OU and was the best person to articulate its mission.
Bane said the major challenge of this position is to react to sudden crises in the world, and they are confident Hauer can tackle that.
After Hauer takes the position on in July, he will have Fagin as a mentor until Fagin departs in September.
“The mentorship of Fagin is essential for a rabbi to start on that platform [Fagin] built up,” said Bane.
A second person will serve as the senior professional officer, another part of Fagin’s job. A search is underway for an experienced business executive to fill that position.
“The past five plus years have been tremendously fulfilling,” said Fagin. He is proud that the OU doubled its budget and expanded programs.
Hauer grew up in Montreal, a son to avid Torah readers. His father was a Holocaust survivor, and “through his time as a refugee, his entire career including retirement, he spent every day, every day of his life, studying and sharing Torah.” Hauer’s mother, who escaped Hungary in 1943, also continues to teach Torah to students around her dining room table to this day. “I was privileged to be raised and have the Jewish life at the center and heart of everything. Study of Torah was a passion that was naturally shared,” and so it was natural for him to choose this career path.
Hauer serves as a trustee of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and is a member of the national council of AIPAC. He is a member of the Rabbinical Council-Vaad HaRabbonim of Baltimore and the Rabbinical Council of America.
It’s difficult for him to name one highlight of his career, but his greatest pride is having the shul be a family where people feel included and are responsible, “where Jewish life grows passionately.” Hauer said he is honored to have spent his professional life serving as a congregational rabbi.
“This time has been exceptionally rewarding and the relationships which we built in the synagogue and broader community are something I profoundly appreciate and treasure and hope to continue to nurture,” he said.