Rabbi Solomon Schiff

Congregation Beth Avraham, Bethlehem-Easton, PA; Congregation Tiferes Israel, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada; Congregation Beth-Abraham, Bangor, Maine

Feb 25, 2010

Rabbi Isaac Yagod has served as rabbi of Congregation Beth Avraham in Bethlehem-Easton, PA since 2003. The shul has had a techiyat hemeitim under his leadership: its membership has increased from one member to a vibrant and thriving community. For more than a decade, he has served as a chaver on the Boston Beth Din and as a kosher supervisor for several major kashruth organizations. Motivated by an appreciation of the struggle of 'out-of-town' communities to keep their shuls open and to maintain Jewish life, once a month Rabbi Yagod also serves as rabbi for two small communities, the Beth Abraham Congregation of Bangor, Maine and Congregation Tiferes Israel, Moncton, New Brunswick. Previously, he served as rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh in Portland, Maine.

In addition to his rabbinic positions, Rabbi Yagod prefers to support himself from yegiah kapayim, and has worked in electronics and computer network engineering. In 1988, he received a Bachelor of Science in computer science from the State University of New York; in 1997, he received certification in computer engineering.

When asked, "How do you attend to three shuls at once?", he stresses that "there is no such thing a a part-time rabbi! With today's technology, my communities and I are constantly in touch. People call and email six days a week with questions and issues. To tie it all together, I maintain a complex master schedule. In many ways, it resembles a rav who gives a kashruth hasgachah to several far-flung establishments."

Along with his wife, Frimet Shayna, Rabbi Yagod is passionate about helping to sustain small, inactive shuls and kehillot. This stems from his childhood years in Syracuse, NY. He always wondered why the community seemed to be "running out of people" for daily minyan. This early experience, along with a pioneering spirit inherited from his family, prompted him to enter the rabbinate many years later.

Rabbi Yagod is proud that he comes from one the first families of Montreal. Rabbi Yagod's grandfather, Rav Yitzchok Isaac Yagod, came to Montreal in 1906 helped to establish a Jewish community with just a handful of shomrei Shabbos. His grandfather started the Nusach Ha'Ari Shul, Chevra Shas, Chevra Mishnayos, a Jewish day school, United Talmud Torahs, and was instrumental in helping start the first religious youth group, Bnei Akiva.

Rabbi Yagod has been learning and enjoying Talmud since the age of seven. He studied under Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, zt”l, and Rav Nachum Partozvitz, zt”l, at Yeshivat Mir in Jerusalem for three years, at Yeshivas Brisk under Rav Berel Soloveitchik, zt”l, and at Beth Medrosh Gevoha in Lakewood, NJ. He received his first semicha in 1982 from Rabbi Shlomo Leib Weinberger of Brooklyn. Later, he learned privately for seven years with his rav, R. Pinchus Hirschprung, zt”l, chief rabbi of Montreal, eventually receiving a second, advanced semicha from him. He also holds a kabbala for safrus from Badatz, Jerusalem and has published three kuntressim (halachic essays), in the three volumes of the sefer Nachalas Yitzchok.

He and Frimet are active in agunot cases, especially those requiring sustained effort to procure a get. They enjoy working with children and young adults who are “off the derech,” enabling them to rekindle a love and joy of yiddishkeit. Together, they have eight children, and currently live in Easton, PA.