Rabbi Ari Saks
Rabbi Ari Saks is finishing an 11-year career as a full-time pulpit rabbi. For the past six years, he's been the spiritual leader of the Huntington Jewish Center where he invigorated Shabbat morning services with engaging Torah discussions, created deep and meaningful relationships with members of all ages, developed innovative and inspirational educational programs for children, and adults, and effectively managed the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, among many other accomplishments.
Prior to his time at HJC, Rabbi Saks spent five years at Congregation Beth Mordecai in Perth Amboy, NJ. During that time, Rabbi Saks launched many innovative programs to infuse passion and energy into this 122-year-old Jewish community. He is a community cheerleader, inspiring a relatable, relevant, and meaningful form of Judaism that excites people of all ages to connect to their Jewish identities.
Rabbi Saks is also known for his outreach efforts in the local Jewish and township communities. In Huntington, he effectively organized and led an interfaith group of local clergy and helped organize Jewish communal programs with the local Reform and Reconstructionist synagogues. In Perth Amboy, Rabbi Saks was nicknamed the “Mall Rabbi” for setting up office hours in a local mall, acted as President of the Rabbinical Association in the Heart of New Jersey, and served as a Deputy Commander of the Perth Amboy Police Chaplain Corps.
Born into a family filled with rabbis, Rabbi Saks spent his youth hoping to avoid the rabbinic profession and become a sports journalist following around one of his beloved Philadelphia sports teams. After many powerful Jewish experiences at Camp Ramah, in USY, in Israel, and at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Saks knew he wanted to devote his life to the Jewish people. However, it wasn’t until he had a particularly transformative experience that he felt “called” to be a rabbi, and has embraced that “call” ever since. More than any program he’s run or been a part of, Rabbi Saks has experienced the “call” to be a rabbi in his conversations with people about their Jewish and religious identities, and in being present for important smachot and life-cycle events. He feels a profound sense of appreciation, responsibility, and humility in being allowed entry into some of the most important moments in people’s lives. Rabbi Saks received smicha, an M.A. in Jewish Education, a B.A. in Bible from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a B.A. from Columbia University in Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures. Rabbi Saks lives in Huntington with his wife Rachel and his two beautiful children – Jonah and Lilah.