Rabbi Howard Zack

Congregation Torat Emet, Columbus, OH

Apr 12, 2011

Rabbi Howard Zack was born and raised in Worcester, MA. He moved to Schenectady, NY, in his mid-teens, and became a chapter and regional president in the Upstate New York region of NCSY. While involved in NCSY, he met his future wife, Linda Vlosky Zack of Syracuse, who was also an NCSY regional president.

Rabbi Zack graduated from Yeshiva College in 1980, received semicha from RIETS in 1985, and an M.S. in Modern Jewish Philosophy from the Bernard Revel Graduate School. While at RIETS, he participated in the original YU Counterpoint program in Australia, and spent a summer at the Boston Kollel with Rav Soloveitchik. He was the first Shabbat Youth Director at Bnei Yeshurun in Teaneck where he did his shimush with Rabbi Macy Gordon. Following their marriage, Rabbi Zack and his wife Linda spent a year of post-graduate learning in Israel; Rabbi Zack learned at the YU Gruss Kollel, and Linda at the Michlelet Bruria Kollelet led by Rabbi Chaim Brovender and Malka Bina.

Rabbi Zack traces his desire to become a pulpit rabbi back to his own childhood. “Having grown up in smaller Jewish communities that produced so many exemplary Jews through the impact of their rabbis and their synagogues, I was convinced that my passion for learning and leadership would be focused on building and enhancing modern Orthodoxy out-of-town.”

Rabbi Zack took his first pulpit in the summer of 1985 at Congregation Beth Jacob in Oakland, CA where he oversaw the installation of the first permanent mechitza in the shul since its move “uptown” in the 1950’s. After a year of remodeling the shul and working with the congregation, he established the Gan Mah Tov preschool in 1986. Rabbi Zack and Linda were among the founders of the Oakland Hebrew Day School in 1991. During the course of his sixteen years in Oakland, Rabbi Zack helped transform the Jewish community there, turning it from an older congregation with few observant Jews into an active, multigenerational Jewish community with dozens of Shomer Shabbat families.

In 2001, in partnership with Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein and 60 other families, Rabbi Zack became the founding rabbi of Congregation Torat Emet in Columbus, Ohio. Their inaugural service took place on the first Shabbat following 9/11. Ten years and a brand new building later, the shul is home to a vibrant congregation with over 200 member families.

Rabbi Zack currently serves as the Columbus Jewish Federation Chair of the JCRC; he sits on the executive board of the RCA and will be chairing the 2011 RCA convention. Linda received her JD from Capital University Law School in 2008 after spending 20 years as a Jewish educator. She currently clerks for a judge in the Ohio State Appellate Court.

Their three daughters (Etana -23, Shifra -22, and Meira -20) all attended Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women..