Sign In Forgot Password


Orach Chaim, a Modern Orthodox synagogue founded in 1879, has long contributed to Jewish life on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  Our members are from varying backgrounds; our Shul is inclusive; our community warm and caring. In our family home, you’ll find meaningful davening and learning, solidarity with the State of Israel, along with social, educational and communal activities.  We invite you to join us. Our doors are always open.


Michael Brizel President 

Geri Gindea and Bernie Michael Vice President

Barry Ness Treasurer

David Freedman Financial Secretary

Richard Leavy Recording Secretary



Rabbi Ben Skydell has been the Rabbi at Congregation Orach Chaim since January 2013. He follows an illustrious tradition of major American Rabbis to have served as the Congregation’s Rabbi, including Rabbis Michael D. Shmidman, Kenneth Hain and Simon Langer.

A native of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Rabbi Skydell is a graduate of Yeshiva College and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He is a long-time faculty member of the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, and taught for several years at Yeshivat Hadar. Rabbi Skydell also served on the rabbinic staff of Congregation Beth Sholom of Lawrence, New York for nine years.

Rabbi Skydell’s areas of interest include the intersection of Halacha and history, the spiritual worlds of mussar and hasidut, and the historical world of the Rabbis of the Talmud. Rabbi Skydell’s dynamic and engaging presentation has made him a sought-out speaker on college campuses throughout the United States.

Rabbi Skydell is married to Shani, a dedicated social worker and teacher. They are the proud parents of Hannah, Emmie and Zacky.



Aaron was born and raised on the Upper East Side where he graduated from Ramaz and now lives with his new wife Amanda. Aaron attended Yeshiva University and received voice training at Berklee College of Music where he majored in Voice and Music Production & Engineering. Aaron has performed with Y-Studs and Maccabeats across the world, including for two Presidents. At Orach Chaim, we’ve had the distinct privilege of enjoying Aaron’s chazanut during innumerable Shabbatot and holidays over the last 8 years. 



Rabbi Dr. Michael D. Shmidman (Senior Rabbi)

Rabbi Shmidman has served the Orach Chaim congregation and Upper East Side community since 1988. In addition to Rabbinic ordination, he holds a Ph.D. degree in Public Law and Government from Columbia University. He has served as Professor and Chairman of Political and Social Science at City University of New York and most recently as Dean of Undergraduate Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University. A widely recognized scholar, he is acclaimed as an outstanding teacher and inspiring preacher. An ardent Zionist, he has been honored by religious, social and cultural institutions in Israel and the United States.

Cantor Yaakov Y. Stark

Cantor Yaakov Y. Stark served the OC community for nearly 25 year and has been described as possessing “a voice of great beauty, clear and true…breathtaking, radiant, as though from another world.” A child prodigy, at the mere age of seven Yaakov Yoseph Stark was already thrilling congregations with his heartrending solos on the High Holidays. His talent and ability were nurtured by the distinguished cantors in his family, and through continuously listening to the master cantors of the golden age: Rosenblatt, Hershman, Kwartin, Pinchik, Glantz and Koussevitzky. Huge crowds of people regularly attend to savor the stirring songs and timeless tefillos eloquently enhanced and warmly delivered by their beloved cantor. Cantor Stark was privileged to perform at numerous sold-out concerts with the most prestigious philharmonic orchestras and finest choirs throughout the world. His lyric tenor voice has put him in constant demand as a guest cantor in synagogues worldwide. Cantor Stark resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with his wife and children.

Rabbi Kenneth Hain

Rabbi Hain was educated and ordained at Yeshiva University – Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He has taught Judaic Studies at Stern College – YU and served as a director of YU’s Division of Communal Services. From 1999-2001, Rabbi Hain served as President of the Rabbinical Council of America and has also served as President of RIETS Rabbinical Alumni. Since 1988 Rabbi Kenneth Hain has served as Rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, New York.

Rabbi Simon Langer

Rabbi Langer is a native of Alsace Lorraine, France. For sixteen years he headed the Societe du Culte Traditionnel Israelite, an Orthodox congregation in Paris. In 1939, he was one of twenty-two rabbis serving as chaplains with the French army. He continued his functions as chaplain until October, 1940, when the Vichy government purged the French army of all Jewish officers and soldiers. Thereafter he served as chaplain at several concentration camps. In July, 1941, he left Marseilles for the United States.

Rabbi Dr. Joseph H. Hertz

Born in Hungary and educated in New York after emigrating in 1884, he moved to South Africa in 1898 returing to New York and joining Orach Chaim in 1911. In 1913, after a highly publicized battle, he is elected Chief Rabbi of the British Empire over Moses Hyamson, a position he held until he died. He is the author of the “Hertz Chumash.”

Rabbi Dr. Moses Hyamson

Former head Dayan of the Beth Din of London and acting Chief Rabbi of the British Empire was the OC Rabbi for 31 years. Founder of the Board of Milah (ritual circumcision) in New York. Early leader of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. Initiated the formation of the Central Relief Committee which provided European yeshivoth with much needed assistance.

Rabbi Gersion Appel

Rabbi Dr. Gersion Appel (1916-2008) was widely known as a scholar, educator, and author. He began his Torah studies in Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah V’Daas, and continued his rabbinical studies, receiving Semicha at Yeshivat Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan, and the degrees of Doctor of Hebrew Literature from Yeshiva University, and Doctor of Philosophy from Harvard University. Rabbi Appel served as Rabbi of leading orthodox congregations in Worcester, MA, Seattle, WA, and Kew Gardens, NY as well as Congregation Orach Chaim

Rabbi Appel’s former academic positions included: Yeshiva University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Jewish Studies, Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Stern College of Yeshiva University, and Adjunct Professor of Graduate Hebrew Studies at New York University.

Rabbi Samson R. Weiss

Born in Emden, Germany, Weiss received his rabbinical diploma at the yeshivah of Mir. He received his Ph.D. summa cum laude at Dorpat University, Estonia, after studying at the universities of Breslau, Berlin, and Zurich. He headed the Hebrew department of the Jewish teachers' college in Wuerz burg, Germany, before immigrating to the United States in 1938. After teaching at the Ner Israel Yeshivah in Baltimore (1938–40), Weiss moved to Detroit to direct Yeshivath Beth Yehudah in that city (1941–44). He moved to New York in 1944 where he became rabbi of Congregation Orach Chaim and organized *Torah Umesorah, a national association for the promotion of Hebrew day-school education. In 1945 he founded and became director of Young Israel's Institute for Jewish Studies and two years later was made director of the National Council of *Young Israel, serving in this position until 1956, when he became executive vice president of the *Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. Weiss resigned from the latter position in 1972 to settle in Israel. He maintained his position as professor of Jewish philosophy at Touro College and was first chairman of the Department for Judaica Studies at Touro.

Rabbi Joseph Mayor Asher

Born in Manchester, England, and a Cambridge graduate, his obituary notes that he was “…an Erudite Talmudic scholar.” (The New York Times, 11/10/1909)

Rev Lazarus Herzberg

Wed, June 19 2024 13 Sivan 5784