Paul Hoffman

Paul spent his formative years growing up in the heart of Brooklyn, New York – East Flatbush. His Zayde, Jack, the patriarch of the Hoffman clan, loved his first-born grandson as much as he did his Judaism, and when Paul reached the age of three, Jack took Paul and his mom, Erma, to the Yeshivah of Flatbush. He showed them around and declared in his broken English, ‘If it’s okay with you I would like Pinchas to study here.’ It was no secret that Zayde was hoping someday to have a Rabbi in the family. And so it was. Erma was a bit fearful that the day might be too long for her little boy, but remembers vividly how Paul never even turned around to say good-bye when she dropped him off each morning. He loved the Yeshivah!

The days were long, and the program was difficult, and Paul needed help. At age seven, Paul found himself at the crossroads of his young career. And for those of you who don’t believe in miracles, think again, because the son of the Chief Rabbi of Jack’s shtetl in Bialstuk Poland, was on the way to the rescue. Rabbi Chaim had made his way from Uruguay to the United States and somehow was able to find Paul’s Zayde who was once a prominent member of his town. Rabbi Chaim, who lost his family during the pograms in Poland, embraced Paul like a son and it was a storybook relationship. For the next ten years Paul would come home from the Yeshivah at 6:00 and go directly to Reb Chaim and study. Paul went on to graduate from Flatbush and was the first Yeshivah applicant to ever be accepted at Tufts University.

Paul graduated from Tufts with a B.A. in 1976 and continued his studies in economics and finance at St. John’s University. About half way through his M.B.A. program Paul’s dad, Herb, unfortunately became ill, so Paul left school at age 22 and went to work in the family real estate business.

Herb recovered nicely and they worked together for about fifteen years. Health became an issue for Herb again, and this time the Hoffmans decided that it was time for them to retire altogether from the day-to-day affairs of their business. At age 37, Paul was ready to embark on his second career, which eventually led him to the AJR.

Paul considers himself to have been blessed with the privilege of serving Congregation B’nai Israel of Freeport as their Rabbi for the past five years. The community welcomed him with open arms and together they have grown. What was once a leading Conservative synagogue on the South Shore of Long Island is well in its way to re-attaining its former status. The congregation has doubled in membership and has a thriving Hebrew school which will open its doors next year with 100 students and a waiting list!

Paul knows all too well that it was not by the might of his own hands that has led to his synagogue revival. Paul’s sister Robin, also a Flatbush and Tufts graduate lovingly answered his call when he decided that it was time to open a Hebrew school and drives from Manhattan each Sunday to teach. He is also grateful to have Rabbi Howard Nacht on board with him as his associate. Rabbi Howard is as dear a friend and confidante as one could possibly have.

Paul is grateful to his parents Erma and Herb for providing him with a life that has been enriched with the blessings of Judaism. Paul’s dad is his biggest fan every Shabbat morning and is proud to claim that it was his 440,000 dollars worth of educational funds that has made his son what he is today. Paul also appreciates his loving wife Sharon, for without her all of Paul’s professors at AJR would have been reading hand-written papers. She also specializes in shoveling snow so that Paul could get to the AJR dutifully on time for the past five years.

Paul’s children, Matthew, Jared, Sam, and Brielle have been a source of inspiration as well as Paul’s source of internet material as he has refused to acknowledge that he needs to know how to use a computer. Paul’s close friend Debbie Alexander must not be overlooked as she has toiled endlessly editing Paul’s academic papers and he thanks her for all of the years she has tirelessly assisted him. And finally, a special thank you to Rabbi Mark Greenspan is called for, as Mark was there for Paul every step of the way as a Rabbi, educator and most importantly as a friend.