"Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole Earth is Mount
Zion, the city of the great King."
éôä ðåó îùåù ëì äàøõ äø öéåï
éøëúé öôåï ÷øéú îìê øá
We are a small and friendly synagogue family of about 100
families, most of who are retired people who enjoy sharing the
experience of prayer, learning and spending time together at
the Valley Stream Jewish Center.
Our synagogue belongs to the United Synagogue of Conservative
Judaism, which means we seek to carry on the traditions of
Judaism in all its beauty and wisdom, all the while being open
and immersed in the changing world and society in which we live.
We encourage the study of Torah and the practice of Judaism
throughout our lives. We open our hearts and
minds to Jewish observances, both new and old - including
Shabbat and Holy Days, Kashrut and daily prayer, and we
cultivate strong and heartfelt connections to our people in
Israel and our fellow Jews all over the world.
About Rabbi Yechiel (Joel N. Buchband)
Hillel says: Be a disciple
of Aaron - loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow
creatures and helping them become close with the Torah.
äìì àåîø: äåé îúìîéãéå ùì àäøåï
àåäá ùìåí åøåãó ùìåí àåäá
àú äáøéåú åî÷øáï ìúåøä
Mishnah, Avot 1:12
Rabbi Yechiel came to Valley Stream in 2004 with
many years of rich Jewish experiences behind him. He is devoted
to keeping the Valley Stream Jewish Center a warm home for our synagogue family,
in which spiritual growth, Jewish observance and Torah learning
can be experienced in the most authentic and enjoyable way
Rabbi Yechiel grew up in Woodbridge, NJ where he
and his family were part of a strong Jewish community led by
Rabbi Milton Kula of Cong. Adath Israel. As a devoted student,
young Yechiel learned to use his pleasant singing voice as a
prayer leader and Torah reader, and was also blessed to
experience the beauty of Shabbat with Rabbi Kula’s family.
Active in the USY youth movement, Yechiel also was able to make
lifelong friendships with other young Jews with whom he shared a
deep commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people. In his final
year of high school, Yechiel served as the president of the New
Jersey Region of USY (United Synagogue Youth). He would
continue as an adult leader at USY encampment and on USY
Pilgrimage to Israel for several more years.
His college years were spent on Manhattan’s Upper
West Side, where he lived, studied and was part of the intense
Jewish community of the Jewish Theological Seminary. While
earning a BA there in Judaic Studies, Yechiel also studied
history at Columbia University, from which he graduated in May
1983, in the very same ceremony at which Barack Obama received
For Yechiel, the process of becoming a committed
and observant Jew brought with it a profound sense of wonder at
the story of the Jewish people and its journey through history.
The fulfillment of millennial hopes and prayers in the return to
the land of Israel, and the growth there of a new Jewish state
and thriving Jewish society where millions of Jews use Hebrew as
their language, live their lives by the Jewish calendar, and do
military service in a Jewish army – this is the uniquely
compelling Jewish experience of our times. Yechiel resolved to
make Israel his home, and in fact made aliyah just after
graduation from college.
Rabbi Yechiel lived in Israel for twenty years.
He served for two years in the Israel Defense Forces in the IDF
Spokesman’s unit, the press office of the Israeli military; like
most Israeli men, he also served in the active IDF reserves for
many years. In Israel Yechiel continued his life-long Jewish
learning – at the Schechter Institute (the Conservative seminary
in Jerusalem) and at the Shalom Hartman Institute’s pluralistic
Talmud program in Tel Aviv. Yechiel was deeply moved by the
approach of Institute’s founder, Rabbi David Hartman, who
believes that Torah is the fundamental source of Jewish
life, and that helping Jews experience Torah once again as a
powerful and vital force in their lives is the central challenge
of our time. Yechiel was inspired to take up this challenge and
devote himself to sharing Torah with his fellow Jews.
In Israel, Yechiel began his career in synagogue
life as the quasi-rabbinic leader of Tiferet Shalom, a Masorati
(Conservative) community in north Tel Aviv. It was while
serving the people of Tiferet Shalom for fourteen years –
teaching and learning with people of every age – that the
rabbinate found Yechiel.
Yechiel returned to the New York area in 2003 to
complete his rabbinical studies at the Academy for Jewish
Religion (www.ajrsem.org). In its warm and supportive
pluralistic community, students and teachers from across the
Jewish spectrum experience spiritual growth, intellectual
challenge and professional development. Yechiel feels blessed
to have been part of AJR’s unique Torah-centered community, and
is proud to have received his smichah (ordination) there
in May 2007.
It was through the good offices of AJR, that
Yechiel came to serve the Temple Gates of
Zion and the Jewish community of
Valley Stream. From their very first meeting and Shabbat
together, Yechiel and the people of Gates of Zion felt they have
“chemistry” – we share the same devotion to authentic Jewish
living and learning, to maintaining a synagogue community which
is warm and supportive, and to expressing our solidarity with
our fellow Jews throughout the world and in Israel. From the
start, Yechiel felt at home and at one with the wonderful Jewish
family of Gates of Zion and today shares the
same feelings with the newly formed Valley Stream Jewish Center.
Yechiel enjoys serving our synagogue community.
He brings his warmth and learning to teaching Bible, Hebrew and
Siddur (prayerbook) in our adult education program. He brings
his enthusiasm and devotion to leading us in prayer and in Torah
study on Shabbat. And as counselor and chaplain, his
understanding and caring nature are a source of strength and
solace as we face life’s challenges, joys and sorrows. Rabbi
Yechiel is a gifted and devoted spiritual leader of whom we are
justly proud and who is looking forward to
serving our newly expanded community.