About Rav Dov Fischer
Rabbi Dov Fischer, Rav of Young Israel of Orange County, has emerged uniquely as the only Orthodox Rav in all of Orange County, California who has served in both of the County’s non-Chabad Orthodox congregations. He became a Congregational Rabbi in Irvine, California in August 2005, when he assumed the role at Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine. Rabbi Fischer arrived in “The O.C.” from the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, where he had been Rav of Young Israel of Calabasas since that shul’s inception. In February 2008, sixty Beth Jacob membership households joined with Rabbi Fischer in establishing Orange County’s first new Orthodox Jewish congregation in more than twenty years: Young Israel of Orange County. Orange County is home to 100,000 Jews. Rabbi Fischer is a nationally prominent Jewish leader and speaker, a member of the National Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, the central body of the Modern Orthodox Rabbinate in the United States, and formerly of the Board of Directors of the Hillel Foundation of Orange County. Previously, Rav Fischer served as National Vice President of the Zionist Organization of America. Yet Rav Fischer’s first focus is, and always has been, on the needs of each and every individual in his congregational community. For all his prominence, private pastoral care comes first.
As a quintessentially “Modern Orthodox” centrist rabbi — Ivy League graduate, amateur film buff extraordinaire, American History scholar, theater and opera aficionado, and Yankees-Mets/ Giants-Jets/ Rangers-Islanders fan (depending on which teams are having good years!) — our Rav creates a unique home for educated and critical-thinking Contemporary Jews who observe the Shabbat and for those who are “not yet Shomer Shabbat.” The remarkable synthesis of the population groups in our YIOC community creates a distinctive flavor that celebrates the diversity of our wonderfully eclectic congregation of distinguished professionals, accomplished entrepreneurs, and just-plain nice people.
Rabbi Fischer and his dynamic and personable wife, Rebbetzin Ellen, work together as an inseparable team, often teaching classes together, regularly hosting Shabbat guests and lunch visitors, and frequently dedicating Friday Nights to hosting young people for Shabbat dinner. Thus, Ellen plays a critical role, welcoming new families, hosting a steady flow of Shabbat guests, attending services and helping women with davening, and participating in classes as an additional resource. Like the Rav, Ellen devotes part of each week to providing private pastoral care for members of the Shul community. Rabbi Fischer frequently tells of how he owes everything in his career to Ellen.
In these capacities, Rebbetzin Ellen and Rav Fischer have established a demonstrated record of reaching out successfully to Jews of all backgrounds, attracting a dynamic blend of younger families, more senior families, and “Baby Boomers” in between. In the process, they give voice and dignity to the cultures and customs of our congregants, appealing to Jews from Israel, Iran, Russia, South Africa — and even those who grew up in Brooklyn, Queens, The Island, and The Valley.
A Rabbi with a National Impact: Rav Fischer has an eclectic background. Most rabbis are not Kentucky Colonels — but Rav Fischer has been named by three different Governors of the Commonwealth of Kentucky — Gov. Brereton Jones, Gov. Paul Patton, and Gov. Ernie Fletcher — as an Honorary Kentucky Colonel for contributions he has made to the people and social welfare of that state. (He was born and reared in Brooklyn, but he likes Makers’ Mark.) Rabbi Fischer continues to publish social, political, and cultural commentary in prominent national outlets – his writings have appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, as front-cover banner headline stories in the Weekly Standard, and in National Review Online, the Jerusalem Post, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, the Jewish Press of New York, and Midstream – as well as the Blog on this website. He is particularly known in Southern California where he has contributed several hundred published articles over the past thirty years, emerging as a strong community advocate for Torah values.
Through the years, Rav Fischer’s writings have continued to draw national and international attention — as any “Google search” of his name demonstrates — and he has served on a wide range of public community posts including as a National Vice President of the Zionist Organization of America, Board member of the L.A. Jewish Federation Council’s Jewish Community Relations Committee, member of the Los Angeles Yeshiva Principals’ Council, Executive Board member of the American Jewish Committee of Orange County, Executive Board member of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Orange County, Executive Board member of the Hillel Foundation of Orange County, and in other local and national capacities. He has been honored by his city’s United Jewish Appeal campaign, by American Magen David Adom, and by other agencies. He was invited to serve as a member of the 12-member task force created initially by the Hillel Foundation of Orange County to study allegations of anti-Jewish activity at the University of California at Irvine (UCI).
Rav Fischer is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, the Rabbinical Council of California, the National Council of Young Israel Rabbis, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) Alumni Association, the State Bar of California, and a wide range of other civic, religious, and social organizations. Within the Rabbinical Council of America, he has served during Year 2008-2009 on the RCA’s Task Force on Jewish Principles and Ethical Guidelines for Business and Industry (“JPEG”), and on the RCA National Convention Resolutions Committee. He is chair of the RCA Committee on Rabbinic Discretionary Accounts and is a ranking member on the RCA Committee to Assist Rabbis in Difficult Pulpits.
Thirty Years of Service to the Jewish Community: After receiving his undergraduate degree at Columbia University, Rav Fischer studied at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University and was ordained a Rav in 1981. In 1983, Rabbi Fischer was awarded his master’s degree in American Jewish history. His master’s thesis was nationally honored by the American Jewish Historical Society and published in its scholarly quarterly,American Jewish History.
During the first decade of his rabbinical career, Rav Fischer was a synagogue congregational Rav in New Jersey, taught on both the religious and secular faculties of two yeshiva high schools, was Rabbinical Advisor to the largest Soviet Jewry immigration agency in New Jersey and to his city’s NCSY chapter for teens, and served as Jewish chaplain both at the largest private hospital in the city and for the Jersey City Police Department. He also wrote a regular column for the mass-circulating Jewish Press of Brooklyn, authored two books — Jews for Nothing: On Cults, Assimilation and Intermarriage (N.Y.: Feldheim, 1983) and General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine (N.Y.: Steimatzky, 1985) – and served as national executive director of the Likud Zionists of America.
From 1985 to 1987, Rav Fischer lived in Israel where his was one of 40 pioneering families that created a new Jewish community in Samaria. During that time, he also served as Assistant Director of the American High School at Pardes Hanna, cosponsored by the Los Angeles Jewish Federation Council’s Bureau of Jewish Education and by the Los Angeles Unified School District. He taught in the Overseas Program at Orot Women’s College for Torah Studies, guest lectured several times at Bar Ilan University for a course in Jewish Values taught to members of the Israeli Defense Forces, and he worked intimately with Ethiopian Jews at the Merkaz Klitah Absorption Center in Hadera.
Rabbi Fischer came to California in 1987 to serve as Rav of a new congregation, Beit Hamidrash of Woodland Hills, and served as Founding Rav and Headmaster of a new Yeshiva Day School in the area, the West Valley Hebrew Academy, also based in Woodland Hills. During his three years in Woodland Hills, the Beit Hamidrash Congregation grew from ten families to more than sixty membership households, and the yeshiva day school expanded into three grades and more than 60 students.
A Decade of Legal Service to the American Jewish Community, Too: After a decade’s service in the American Orthodox rabbinate, Rav Fischer received his Juris Doctor degree in 1993 at UCLA School of Law where he also was selected to serve as Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review. His Law Review Comment on a federal law affecting directors and officers of depository institutions has been cited in nine federal judicial opinions, a remarkable and virtually unheard-of honor for a law student. The following year, Rabbi Fischer served as federal judicial appeals-court clerk to the Hon. Danny J. Boggs, who became Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Rabbi Fischer thereafter practiced complex business litigation for nearly a decade at three of America’s most prominent law firms. As part of his practice, Rav Fischer became uniquely positioned to play ongoing significant pro bono legal roles representing leaders in the Orthodox Jewish community and advocating legal positions important to the greater Jewish community. Thus, Rav Fischer participated significantly on a pro bono legal team that represented the plaintiff class suing certain European insurance companies over Jewish claims arising from the Holocaust era. He also has performed a wide range of other pro bono legal services for the Jewish community, including successfully helping women obtain Gittin from recalcitrant husbands, stopping an unauthorized autopsy from being performed in Orange County and having another autopsy dramatically modified in scope, and representing religious institutional leaders in a series of public-interest matters. He continues to contribute to American legal education today as Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where he teaches California Civil Procedure and the Law of Complex Torts.