Caterer, Matchmaker, and Talmid Chacham
Rabbi Shalom Katz
Har Nof, Jerusalem
McMaster University – Major: B.A. in Religion
Ohr Somayach Alumnus - 1979
Young Shalom Katz started as a busboy and worked his way up to manager of a three-story gourmet restaurant of French cuisine. When his culinary talents led him to Los Angeles, he was working for a top caterer in Beverly Hills, including catering the bar mitzvah of a Jewish Hollywood star. But for young Katz, the excitement at that time was not the food he was putting out to the rich and famous, but the Torah he was taking in from a local synagogue. He decided to come to Ohr Somayach to study Judaism more seriously.
Rabbi Katz says he never spent one penny on advertising since he became observant. Yet, less than one month of his arrival at Ohr Somayach, a neighborhood rebbetzin was determined to organize groups of women to take cooking classes taught by young Katz. He was soon asked to do a catering job for a famous neighborhood family, and from there he began catering about once a week.
Rabbi Pindrus used to tell young Katz and his peers at Ohr Somayach that they need to learn the Torah, not just “learn how to learn.” Rabbi Katz feels he has lived up to those words over the years. After Ohr Somayach, he joined a kollel (advanced Torah study institution) in Har Nof, where he learns to this day — morning, afternoon, and evening — taking time off to cater as he needs. “Earning a living is totally Divine Providence, and a fine balance with Torah learning,” says Rabbi Katz who has married off five of his seven children so far and completed four cycles of the Babylonian Talmud with the worldwide Daf Yomi (literally: “daily page”) program. He is currently a study partner with the future Chief Rabbi of India and is helping him prepare for his rabbinical exams.
Despite his busy schedule, Rabbi Katz spends 30 minutes a day on the phone as matchmaker for English speaking ba’alei teshuva (returnees to traditional Jewish observance), and teaches marriage preparatory courses to young bridegrooms. Rabbi Katz says that he enjoys participating in the process of G-d’s bringing together two souls.