Rabbi Avrohom Union
Dayan and Menahel, Beth Din of the Rabbinical Council of California
Mar 20, 2014
Rabbi Avrohom Union is the Dayan and Menahel of the Beth Din of the Rabbinical Council of California. He grew up in North Miami Beach, Florida, and attended the Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach. Upon graduation, he went to the Mesivta of Greater Miami and then to Telshe Yeshiva of Chicago. This was followed by eight years in Bais Hatalmud in Jerusalem, four of them in Kollel.
He received his semicha from the Israeli Rabbinate and later received the dayanut qualification of Yadin Yadin from HaGaon Rav Dov Schwartzman. He did undergraduate studies at the University of South Africa and completed his Masters in Psychology at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. Rabbi Union felt that a degree in psychology would provide him with additional expertise and insight in his pastoral and community work.
Rabbi Union was rabbi of the Constantia Hebrew Congregation in Cape Town, South Africa, where he also served as a Dayan for the Cape Beis Bin. In the United States, he was the Rabbi of Young Israel of Beverly Hills. He has given many adult education classes for various organizations over the years, and currently serves on the faculty of the Jewish Learning Exchange as well as Ohel Sara Seminary for Women. Helping people and helping them live Jewishly is Rabbi Union’s favorite aspect of being a rabbi. He takes pride in raising a family of committed members of Klal Yisrael, promoting unity in the local orthodox Rabbinate, and building a Vaad as a platform for serving the community.
Prior to his first Yom Kippur in Cape Town, he met with the board to review the service and the local customs. He asked them why they blow the shofar after Maariv instead of after Neila, contrary to the established minhag. They told him that as soon as the shofar is blown everybody will run for the doors. “Let’s see” he replied. That Yom Kippur, he turned to his congregants as Neila ended and told them what the board said. “They think you are going to run. They think you will have had enough. But I think that after such an uplifting and meaningful Yom Kippur, you will want to do the right thing and remain for Maariv after the shofar. I believe in you”. With that he gave the signal to blow the shofar, the doors remained as they were, and his president chuckled that the Rabbi had won this round.
His advice to younger rabbis who are at the start of their rabbinic career is; treat your congregants with dignity and genuine ahavas yisrael and they will respect you even if you are demanding.
Rabbi Union served as the English editor of Mashiv B’halacha, a publication of the Mechon L’Horaah and has published numerous pieces in the Shaarei Tzedek journal of Choshen Mishpat case law. He is involved with Nefesh, the organization of Orthodox mental health professionals, and he also works with his wife Tova, in training kallah teachers. He currently sits on the Halachic Advisory Board of Magen Yeladim International Child Safety Institute.
Rabbi Union is married to Tova (nee Reis) who is the Girls' Middle School Coordinator for Emek Hebrew Academy. They have 9 beautiful children and seventeen grandchildren.