Starting in July, Rabbi Asher Lopatin will no longer be a stone’s throw away in his office on Henry Hudson Parkway. At the end of spring semester, the president of the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School will step down, moving his family to Detroit, where his wife Rachel is from.
“I have the most amazing wife ever — and children — in the world,” Lopatin said. “My kids are amazing troopers.”
Although he’s leaving the rabbinical school, Lopatin says he’s just getting started. He plans to start a new Modern Orthodox community in Michigan as well as create a university-based center for civil discourse.
“I didn’t realize how much I missed pulpit work,” he said. “At the same time, I’m eager to work with a broad range of undergraduate students who will, God willing, lead the way in creating a new culture of respect and civility within diversity.”
Diversity was one of the things Lopatin felt made Riverdale special. It was the multiplicity and unity there that allowed him to attend numerous non-Orthodox synagogues and meet many people over the years. Through connections with Manhattan College and professor Mehnaz Afridi, Lopatin has made many Muslim and Christian friends as well.
However, he’ll now have to leave them behind to create new networks.
“I believe that YCT needs to move in a different direction, and I’m excited to support them in that quest,” Lopatin said. “I feel that I’ve served the Yeshiva and the Jewish people well in the past five years.”
Sharona Grossberg has been Lopatin’s assistant for more than three of those years.
“From the moment I met Rabbi Lopatin, I was struck by his warm personality, his steadfast loyalty, and his go getter ways,” Grossberg said. “I will miss him and his awesome family.”
Lopatin’s fondest memory includes his students, watching them grow from learners to real, practicing rabbis making a difference in the world, he said. During the next few months, Lopatin not only will focus on packing, but ensure the transition for the new president is as seamless as possible.
Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is a school that breeds Jewish leaders, he said.The students there are incredibly devoted to Judaism, as well as the Torah and Jewish community.
“They have the hearts and minds to accomplish great things,” Lopatin said. “I can’t wait to see the positions they will take throughout the country.”
Being president of the rabbinical school has taught Lopatin how important it is to stay positive, optimistic and hopeful — qualities he felt he needed as president.
The school, he said, is a place that requires a visionary attitude, patience, courageousness, and its new president to be, “above all, loving.”
Over the years Lopatin also has learned the power of standing up for what he believes in and the strength that resides in himself as well as in the ones that support him. Lopatin described the staff and faculty at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah as “the hardest working and most talented people that I’ve ever met.”