Congregation Anshei Sfard has deep roots in Louisville. Established in the late 1800’s, the congregation has always been an Orthodox congregation, and in recent years has been the community’s Orthodox mainstay.
Today, very few Louisville families identify as Orthodox and the congregation has dwindled to the point that it is facing significant challenges.
Recognizing the importance of maintaining an Orthodox community in Louisville, Anshei Sfard’s leadership have embarked on a new direction to strengthen the congregation’s core and, they hope, set the congregation on a solid footing going forward.
Anshei Sfard President Roy Hyman and Rabbi Josh Golding reached out to Chofetz Chaim. Chofetz Chaim has a program for young Orthodox men who study at the yeshiva with the intention of going out to small Jewish communities across the country and establishing a sustainable Orthodox presence.
Hyman said, three men in their late 20’s and early 30’s have agreed to come to Louisville with their wives and children and “re-Jew-venate” Congregation Anshei Sfard.
Rabbi Simcha Snaid will become the congregation’s rabbi. Rabbi Josh Golding, who has been serving the congregation as interim rabbi, is also a professor at Bellarmine University. In the coming year, he will be taking a sabbatical in Israel with his wife, Ayala, and some of their children. He has made it clear that his tenure as rabbi at Anshei Sfard was a temporary arrangement and when he returns to Louisville, he expects to participate as a congregant.
The other two men, Rabbi Yitzi Mandel and Rabbi Zack Blaustein intend to establish a “kollel,” which Rabbi Golding defined in a letter to the congregation as a “Torah Outreach Center with educational programs and other activities which will invigorate our Jewish spiritual and cultural life.”
The three rabbis’ mission, Hyman explained, “is to strenthen and support the Louisville Jewish community by engaging, educating and enriching the lives of every Jewish person, regardless of background or affiliation.”
The kollel, which will not be part of the congregation, will endeavor “to help all individuals attain a deeper relationship with their privileged heritage through Torah study, social religious events and a connection to the land of Israel,” Hyman said. It is his hope that the programs will “enhance the entire Jewish community and will help attract other Orthodox Jews” to Louisville.
Hyman has high expectations of the newcomers. The Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva has sent small groups charged with a similar mission to other communities and they have been successful.
The trio of rabbis and their families are expected to arrive this summer.