BETH TZEDEC RABBI: Rabbi Shaul Osadchey
As part of his goal to re-energized the congregation with new ideas and programs, Rabbi Osadchey has initiated such celebrations as Sukkah in the Hut, “A Taste of Judaism” Cooking Class, a Sunday Bruch Series on the hottest issues confronting Conservative Judaism, and a Shavuot observance featuring a study session led by the Keruv (Conversion) Class topped off with a Cheesecake Party. In addition, Rabbi Osadchey has brought a warm and personal touch to lifecycle events with specially designed ceremonial booklets for baby namings, brit milah, mezuzah affixings, and weddings. In the interfaith community, Rabbi Osadchey currently serves as a Board Member of the Calgary Council of Christians and Jews.
A native of Los Angeles, Rabbi Shaul Osadchey served the Jewish community of Houston for 30 years as Director of the Houston B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation (1979 – 1982), Rabbi of Congregation Brith Shalom (1983 – 1995); founding rabbi of Congregation Or Hadash (1995 – 2001) and subsequently Congregation Or Ami (2001 – Present) which was formed with the merger of congregations Or Hadash and Beth Am.
Highlights of Rabbi Osadchey’s professional achievements include innovative educational programs that embraced a family and intergenerational philosophy, the creation of a program about Jews in space that led to congregant and astronaut Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman taking the first Torah scroll into space in 1996, instituting the first Jewish AIDS Care Team in Houston in 1986, becoming the first Jewish president of Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, officiating at the first same-sex Jewish wedding in Houston in 2000, and taking an active role in interfaith work that focused on relations with the Christian and Moslem communities.
Following completion of a B.A. in Religious Studies and Political Science at Berkeley (1972) and a Master’s Degree in Hebrew Language at Hebrew Union College (1975) Rabbi Osadchey earned his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College in 1977. While studying for the rabbinate, he served as student Rabbi (1973 – 1975) under the tutelage of well-known and respected Conservative spiritual leader, Rabbi Harold Schulweis. Rabbi Osadchey’s additional academic qualifications include Doctor of Divinity, honoris causis, Hebrew Union College (2003); and Doctor of Divinity, honoris causis, Jewish Theological Seminary (2005)
Rabbi Osadchey has served as a frequent lecturer for organizations including the Melton Adult Institute, churches and other religious institutions, as well as the University of Houston and Rice University. His publications include the video “250 Miles Above Sinai: The Space Torah” (2008); Eco-Kashrut Guidebook (Congregation Brith Shalom, Bellaire, Texas, 1994); and the Hanukkah Home Seder: A Guide for Celebrating the Eight Days of Hanukkah (Congregation Brith Shalom, 1986). He was a columnist for Houston’s Jewish Herald Voice from 1979 through 1982.
Politically active within the Jewish and civic communities, Rabbi Osadchey was a leader in the struggle for Soviet Jewry and led two missions to the Soviet Union to visit refuseniks in 1971 and 1983. He established Houston Action for Soviet Jewry and actively led resettlement efforts. In 1990, he was honoured by Israel Bonds with the Freedom for Captive Jewry Award. Rabbi Osadchey’s other Jewish communal activities over the years have included leadership roles in the Houston Reclaim Shabbat Program; President of the Kallah of Texas Rabbis, President of the Houston Rabbinical Association; and board member of the Jewish National Fund and Holocaust Museum Houston..
Rabbi Osadchey’s passion of social action is evident in his commitment to the community at large where he served as a board member of the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition and the American Leadership Forum; founding member, Katy-West Houston Interfaith Clergy Association; advisory board member, Union Community Fund; co-chair, program committee, National Workshop on Christian-Jewish Relations ; president, Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston; Campaign chairman, United Way Campaign for the Homeless; Senior Fellow, American Leadership Forum member, National Interreligious Task Force on Black-Jewish Relations and Houston AIDS Interfaith Council.
Rabbi Osadchey and his wife, Bobbie, married in 2000. They have six children and six grandchildren.