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Scott Hoberman: Building the Jewish Community in South Carolina

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Rabbi Scott Hoberman, born and raised in Skokie, Illinois, graduated from FYHS in 2008. Upon graduating high school, he spent two years in yeshiva in Israel at Yeshivat Shaalvim. He received his degree in Mathematics from Yeshiva University, where he later obtained Semicha, followed by participating in YU’s post-Semicha Kollel, the Wexner Kollel Elyon. While spending four years in the YU Kollel, he became a Rabbinic intern and an Assistant Rabbi at the Riverdale Jewish Center. He completed the Kollel and Assistant Rabbinate position in 2020, and moved to Charleston, South Carolina that August with his family to take on the position as the community Rabbi of Congregation Brith Sholom Beth Israel. He has held this position ever since, living in Charleston with his wife Sara and their three children, 6-year-old Chaya, 3-year-old Solly, and 6-month-old Yemima.

While he had plans to become a community Rabbi while in Semicha, it was not always clear where that goal would lead him. During the time he was looking into different opportunities post-Kollel, Charleston was looking for a Rabbi to replace their previous Rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Davis, (also from Illinois) who was making Aliyah. “My wife and I were always open to going out of town,” said Rabbi Hoberman. “Coming from Chicago, Charleston, South Carolina is a different level of ‘out of town.’ We were looking to go out of the New York area and to take advantage of this period in our lives to do something a little different in the rabbinate.” Since moving to Charleston, Rabbi Hoberman has undertaken many of the essential community roles, including overseeing the Eruv, the Mikvah, the Chevra Kadisha, and being the halachic authority of the Jewish school. “There are a lot of different roles and hats that you wear in the out-of-town rabbinate that if you’re in a more established Jewish community with other rabbis, would be dispersed.”

Being in a rabbinate position in a new town post-covid has been a challenge. “It was strange to take a position of a shul rabbi and to spend the first Shabbos sitting at home because the shul was closed,” said Rabbi Hoberman. “It’s been a bizarre thing to have a community return to normalcy in a post-covid world when you are new and still in the process of getting to know the people. That has been a challenge for us.”

In looking back on his journey to South Carolina, Rabbi Hoberman acknowledges the influence that his environment had on him growing up. “Growing up in Skokie,” he said, “my parents were both involved in the Jewish community. My father was the president of the YU Kollel and the president at Arie Crown for a period of time. My mom was the PTA president. So, it was always a part of my childhood to have communal involvement. After finishing high school and going to Shaalvim, I got more into learning Torah, and I used my parents as role models of being involved in the Jewish community.” Much like his experience with community involvement at home, Rabbi Hoberman noted that many of his classmates at FYHS also went into klei kodesh, either getting Semicha, involvement in the rabbinate, or involvement in chinuch. “Something special about Skokie Yeshiva,” he said, “is that you get a range of students with different hashkafas, from diverse backgrounds, and from different places. It kind of helps you be more open minded. Not that everyone from Skokie ends up in a place like Charleston, but it gives you a mindset of being flexible and open and an understanding that there are different types of people. That is something that I picked up from Skokie.”

“Looking back at my high school years,” he said,” it was an incredibly positive experience. It was a wholesome environment. We had a nice class, people got along. I didn’t think much of it at the time but looking back and having been exposed to different types of institutions, it is incredibly special that I have positive and fond memories of my times in Skokie. Even the rabbis that I am not necessarily in touch with now were really positive role models for me and it’s something that definitely left an impact on me.”

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