|Rabbi Lopatin speaks at the |
Yehsivat Chovevei Torah gala dinner.
At 48, Lopatin retains a youthful quality, which is enhanced by his affinity for gimmick ties, including ones emblazoned with Disney and Looney Tunes characters. He has a full head of dark hair and a ready smile and is relentlessly earnest and cheerful where Weiss, with his habit of wearing his shirts open at the collar and his shock of white hair, comes across as intense and leonine. “You’ll never speak to him and get the mean Asher, or the I-don’t-have-time-for-you Asher,” said Joshua Lookstein, a Yeshiva University classmate of Lopatin’s and the son of Haskel Lookstein, the rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and principal of the Ramaz School. “He has mastered something no one else has mastered, which is that he gives everyone the benefit of the doubt.” Which may be one reason why Lopatin was the nearly universal choice to succeed Weiss from the start. “We spoke to more than 30 people in the United States and Israel and England, people on the left, people on the right, people outside the Orthodox movement, and they all said Rabbi Lopatin should be our first choice,” Steven Lieberman, the chairman of Chovevei’s board, told me. (The board also includes Jonathan Zizmor, of the infamous New York City subway dermatology ads.) “It was very surprising.”