Dec 28, 2011
Rabbi Joel Landau was born in Queens, New York to a religious Zionist family. In 1974 he made aliyah with his parents to Kefar Hanoar Hodayot, a youth village next to Kibbutz Lavi. A few years later the Landau's moved to the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, which enabled the future Rabbi to play an active role in the reclamation of Jewish owned property in the Moslem Quarter.
In 1980, he was part of the Hesder Yeshiva "Shvut Yisrael" that founded the city of Efrat, just a few miles south of Jerusalem. During the 1982 “Peace for the Galilee” campaign Rabbi Landau served as a commander in the tank corps.
From 1983 -1988 Rabbi Landau was privileged to study with the Rav of the Old City, Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl, and assisted him in editing one of his first publications. During this time, he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Empire State College, a teaching credential from Lipshitz College, ordination from the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and a post graduate degree in Judaic Studies issued by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. In addition, Rabbi Landau studied in the Kollel of the former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren where he developed a very close relationship to Rav Goren and assisted him in the managing of the Kollel.
In 1988, Rabbi Landau became the Associate Rabbi of Brith Sholom Beth Israel Synagogue
in Charleston, South Carolina. In addition to his congregational responsibilities he provided Judaic programming for the JCC and was a founding member of the Charleston County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy, which provided personal/spiritual counseling to law enforcement officials and victims of crime and tragedy.
Four years later, Rabbi Landau became the Rav of Beth Jacob Congregation
of Irvine, California where over the course of 12 years he tripled the size of the shul going from 100 to 300 families. During his tenure in Irvine, Rabbi Landau was very involved with many facets of the Orange County Jewish community from the local day school to the JCC, Federation, AIPAC and representing Israel and Judaism to the community at large. One of the main projects Rabbi Landau championed was caring for Israeli victims of terror for whom he raised thousands of dollars.
After returning to Israel in 2004, Rabbi Landau became involved with Yad Ezra V’Shulamit
, an organization providing thousands of food baskets every week to needy people throughout Israel. However, he found that although it was very important to keep people from going to bed hungry, feeding them was not necessarily the best solution. The saying “give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime” provided the basis for his involvement with The Kemach Foundation. The mission of the The Kemach Foundation is to affect real change in Israeli society, by providing the support and resources that enable thousands of members of the ultra orthodox community to join the work-force so as to contribute to the economic development of Israel and better provide for their families.
Currently Rabbi Landau is the executive director of “Israel Up Close Productions” (IUC) a non-profit film production company that identifies, researches, and reports on how Israeli innovations improve the daily lives of people throughout the world. In addition, IUC presentations demonstrate Israel’s concern for people in need, its humanitarian initiatives around the globe and its outreach projects to Israeli Arabs. For more information please see www.israelupclose.org
Rabbi Landau is married to Johni nee Rakov, of San Diego. They have three sons, three daughters and seven grandchildren.