Rabbi Barry Hartman

Congregation Ahavath Achim, New Bedford, MA

Jan 31, 2011

Barry Hartman is a graduate of Yeshiva College and received his Semicha from RIETS. At YU, he was privileged to attend the Shiurim of the distinguished Roshei Yeshiva, Rav Yeruchum Gorelick zt’l, Rav David Lifshitz zt’l and Rav Joseph Soloveitchik zt’l. He became very close to Rav David Lifshitz, to whom he refers as "mori v’rabbi". Rabbi Hartman received an MA in Jewish history from the Bernard Revel Graduate School and a second MA in Urban Planning from Long Island University. He is currently studying towards a Ph.D. at the Spertus College of Jewish Studies in Chicago.

After becoming the rabbi of Ahavath Achim in New Bedford, MA, in 1980, he continued to learn with Rav Soloveitchik by attending his Sunday morning gemara shiur at the Maimonides School in Boston. During those years, Rabbi Hartman developed a close relationship with the Rav, and it was to him that he addressed many halachik questions pertaining to New Bedford.

During his years in New Bedford, Rabbi Hartman based his approach to various communal situations upon the advice given to him by Rav Lifshitz, who told him that there was no mitzvah to start a machloket, but that we must remain loyal to our own standards. This philosophy helped enable Rabbi Hartman to establish proper kashruth standards at the New Bedford Jewish Convalescent Home, and to ensure that all communal events sponsored by the Federation and other Jewish organizations adhered to proper kashruth and Shabbos standards.

Rabbi Hartman worked hard to address problems in funeral home practice, and was successful in implementing a process whereby all funerals in Southcoast included a proper tahara and shemira by a reputable chevra kadisha.

At Ahavath Achim, Rabbi Hartman began a Friday Night Shabbat dinner with a local speaker which expanded into scholar in residence weekends. Over the past twenty five years, the program, known as the Phyllis and Sydney Horvitz Scholar in Residence Weekend, has become an anchor for the entire New Bedford Jewish Community. A recognized scholar is brought to the community where he or she speaks Friday night, at Shabbat lunch and at an informal program on Motzei Shabbat. The speakers have included Dr. David Luchins, Dr. Fred Rosner, Dr. Rivkah Blau, Rabbi Yosef Blau, Rabbi Dr. JJ Schachter, Rabbi Kenneth Hain, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Rabbi Dr. Marc Angel, Rachel Friedman. Dr. Norma Joseph, Rabbi Dr. David Berger, Dr. David Shatz, and Rabbi Avi Weiss.

When Ahavath Achim celebrated its 90th anniversary, Rabbi Hartman began slowly doing research about the history of New Bedford Jewry and its long-serving European-educated rabbi, Rabbi Hyman Papkin z’l. Over the next few years, Rabbi Hartman discovered manuscripts and documents from Rabbi Papkin and the synagogues of the New Bedford Jewish Community. Rabbi Hartman has begun to deliver public presentations about his research during which he analyzes how the immigrant Jew attempted to reestablish the kehillah structure from Europe.

Rabbi Hartman reopened Ahavath Achim’s Hebrew school, offers a number of NJOP programs and teaches a variety of classes. He is also active in the Beth Din of Boston and is currently working on erecting an Eruv in New Bedford.

Rabbi Hartman is married to Shoshana, a software development engineer. They are blessed with children and grandchildren..