Rabbi Yankie Denburg
Title: Co-director of Chabad of Southwest Coral Springs, along with wife Chana.
Other community posts: Former prison chaplain, Fort Dix, N.Y.
Education: Rabbinic degree, Rabbinical College of America, Morristown, N.J.
Personal: 26. Born in Plantation.
Family: Son of Rabbi Yossi Denburg, Chabad of Coral Springs, and nephew of Rabbi Moshe Denburg, Chabad of Boca Raton. Married to Chana, youth director at the synagogue. Two daughters.
Q. You've worked in India, China and South Africa -- why did you return to South Florida?
I saw this is where I'd have the most success. A lot of people knew me here and wanted me to suceed. And I wanted to go back to the community that had raised me.
Q. Are there any difficulties in being a son and a nephew of prominent rabbis?
It's easier to be a rabbi when you're the son of a rabbi. It's beautiful to talk to my father and get his many years of experience.
Q. What's the one most mistaken impression about Chabad Lubavitch?
People think you have to be religious to join it. We welcome every Jew, regardless of background or knowledge or financial capability.
Q. But religion is the point, isn't it?
Yes, this is a religious organization, meant to spread Torah. But previous knowledge is not necessary. Any Jew is welcome, regardless of being active or not.
Q. How do you like to relax?
I go home with my two daughters. We can sing and dance together. And I read to them all the time.
Q. Do you have any favorite TV shows?
I don't have a TV in my home. That's one of the best things I can do for my children. They don't have their eyes glued to a screen that fills their minds with garbage.
Q. Favorite music? Favorite performer(s)?
I really love Hasidic melodies. Avraham Fried is a great Hasidic singer.
Q. What person in history would you like most to meet?
Mordecai (cousin of the biblical Queen Esther). He was involved in politics but retained his Jewish identity.
Q. Any advice you'd give for others considering the vocation?
You have to really feel for what you're doing. You have to believe in the mission, love the congregants, love spreading the Word of G-d. If you don't mean it or feel for it, you'll burn out way too fast.
Q. What one thing would you change about yourself?
I would learn to speak slower and clearer.
Q. What do you wish people understood about you?
People often think I care about them for an agenda. They're used to the idea of a rabbi who is aloof. When I call them or invite them to my home for challah, they're suspicious of my motives. They don't know whether I want to make them religious or get their money.
Q. Have you ever doubted your faith?
Q. How is it possible never to doubt? Even Israel and others in the Bible doubted.
We should learn from their mistakes. Sometimes people need to face their doubts and deal with them. But personally, I've never doubted. I'm confident and comfortable who I am.