Rabbi Joe Wernik
Rabbi Joe Wernik grew up in Kehillat Neve Shalom in Metuchen NJ, where his Jewish and Zionist education culminated in a gap year in Israel, representing Young Judea in the Institute for Leadership Training, which was a catalyst for his decision to make his home in Israel several years later. After his ordination at JTS, he served as Rabbi in charge of formal and informal education at Park Avenue Synagogue until he made Aliyah in 1969, along with his wife, Miriam Glick Wernik.
In Israel, Joe had an illustrious and influential career advancing Masorti and Zionist institutions in Israel and around the world. Together with Rabbi Alan Silverstein, he moved the offices of the World Council of Conservative Synagogues from New York to its present location in Jerusalem where they renamed it Masorti Olami. Joe was instrumental in creating the Masorti regions around the world, such as Masorti AmLat and Masorti Europe, which made Masorti Olami a truly worldwide organization. He also founded Marom Olami, the young adult movement of the Masorti/Conservative Movement
In June 2006, Joe retired from the position of the Executive Vice President of Masorti Olami (World Council of Conservative Synagogues) and MERCAZ Olami (the Zionist arm of the Masorti/Conservative Movement) and as a member of the Executive of the WZO.
Prior to this position with Masorti Olami, Joe headed the Joint Authority for Jewish Zionist Education’s Department of Jewish Education and Culture in the Diaspora and also served as a member of the Executive of the Jewish Agency. He also served as Chairman of the WZO’s Department for Zionist Activities and was named an Amit Kavod—a lifetime honorary member of the Va’ad HaPoel of the WZO. Joe previously served as National Director of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) and was the former Director of Young Judaea/Hadassah Youth Center in Israel at Beit Riklis.
Joe was an active volunteer for many years in a number of organizations. He has formerly served as Chairman both of the Masorti Movement in Israel and also the Schechter Institutes for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, where he was also a board member of Midreshet Yerushalayim. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Museum of the Diaspora (Beit Hatfutsot), former chairman of the Association for Demographic Policy of the Jewish People and has also served on the board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. He was a member of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and also a member of the Jewish Educator’s Assembly and the International Rabbinical Assembly.
Joe served two separate terms as President of Kehillat Ramot Zion over the past 40 years and was one of the founders of the first TALI Masorti School in French Hill. He worked with the Jewish Agency on a joint project to educate Ethiopian children and also served as Chairman of the Ramah Committee in Israel and National President of T’nuat Aliyah.
Joe is currently Chairman of Menuhah Nechona (alternative burial) for Jerusalem and its environs and serves as an ex-officio member of the MERCAZ Olami board.
Joe has been married to Miriam Glick, a native of Philadelphia for 52 years, and they are proud parents of their daughter, Idit, and son, Rami z”l and kvelling saba and savta to Zohar (Zoe) Nachama and Dvir (Dev) Hadar Wernik.