Rabbi Pinchas Allouche, the founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Tefillah, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Scottsdale, Ariz. Credit: Courtesy.
Rabbi Pinchas Allouche, the founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Tefillah, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Scottsdale, Ariz. Credit: Courtesy.

‘It is my task to bring Judaism to the people,’ declares Arizona rabbi

Pinchas Allouche sees the large Modern Orthodox synagogue he founded in Scottsdale as a place for spiritual growth.

The way Rabbi Pinchas Allouche sees things, there are two types of shuls.

“One is a synagogue service that is like a spa,” the founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Tefillah, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Scottsdale, Ariz., told JNS. “People go there to get a massage, to feel good about themselves and be refreshed.”

“The other is like a gym. You don’t always feel so good. You have to stretch and work hard. You come out exhausted,” he said. “But you have gotten stronger and grown in that process. You have expanded your boundaries and maximized your potential.”

Beth Tefillah is akin to the latter. “We constantly emphasize to people that you have to grow, to take that next step and to do that extra mitzvah,” Allouche said.

The shul, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary next year, has a membership of 600 families from different religious backgrounds and all across the globe.

An accepting place

People told Meredith Ryan, 50, for weeks in 2020 that she had to meet Allouche. “When I finally walked into the shul, I got that ‘whoa’ feeling because everyone was so kind and so accepting,” she told JNS.

Ryan underwent a Reform conversion 17 years ago. After attending Beth Tefillah for a month, she opted for an Orthodox conversion, which took place in Israel in August 2023.

Rabbi Pinchas Allouche
Rabbi Pinchas Allouche. Credit: Courtesy.

“When I met the rabbi, he explained that every single person’s Jewish journey is unique to them and there is no one way of being Jewish,” she said of Allouche. He told her that he created Beth Tefillah with that in mind, she told JNS.

“Right then and there, I knew I had found a place where I would be accepted for who I am,” she said.

“I was shaking,” she said of the first time that she attended services at Beth Tefillah. “I was so nervous that everyone was going to know I didn’t know anything.” Instead, she found that everyone was nice to her and “very interested in learning about me, and were kind and accepting.”

A kinetic view of synagogue life

A native of Toulouse, France, Allouche moved to Johannesburg with his family when he was eight. Shortly after his bar mitzvah, he and his family moved to Jerusalem.

Allouche, who is now 45, met his wife Esther (née Menaker), a native of Caracas, Venezuela, in 1998 when he was working at a Jewish summer camp in Switzerland. She was one of the camp counselors. They now have 10 children.

Rabbi Pinchas and Esther Allouche
Rabbi Pinchas and Esther Allouche. Credit: Courtesy.

The two settled in Jerusalem, where they lived for three years. They moved to Atlanta in 2002 and then in October 2006 to Scottsdale, where they started the now-defunct Sephardic Cultural Center. Four years later, Allouche founded the shul.

The rabbi has a kinetic view of synagogue life. “The days of the rabbi going to shul and working from there are over. Now the way is for the rabbi to go to the people, and for the shul to be proactive and to reach outward as much as possible,” Allouche told JNS.

“It is my task to bring Judaism to the people and welcome them with love,” and not judge, he said. “To embrace people where they are in their own spiritual journey.”

Oct. 7

Since the start of the new year, Allouche has traveled to Israel seven times to bring supplies and donations to one of his sons and the latter’s combat unit.

“Regarding the atrocities of Oct. 7, the message needs to be that in Jewish history, time and time again, we have met with tragedy and death,” the rabbi told JNS.

He added that “the more destruction that comes our way, the more we must construct. The Jewish flame must shine brighter and more than ever before.”

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