Stealth Chabad rabbi Dovi Scheiner as portrayed in today's New York Jewish Week:
On a recent Monday afternoon, an elevator in a sleek Soho apartment building opens into an airy loft. It’s the kind of space one often sees on television when a location is called upon to convey a dab of downtown splendor: minimalist design, Chuck Close and Warhol on the walls, a gaggle of beautiful people clinking glasses. And eating cheesecake — after all, this is a Shavuot party, organized by the Soho Synagogue, the first such institution in the neighborhood’s history.
As the pretty young things, clad in designer clothes, orbit around the room, nibbling on one of 18 exotic homemade cheesecakes, one man stands out in the crowd. He’s rail thin, with soulful brown eyes and a white shirt with tzitzit peeking from underneath. He wears a velvet yarmulke with his name embroidered on top: Rabbi Dovi.
His name is Dovi Scheiner, 28, the lively spirit behind the synagogue. Although the synagogue is still raising funds to afford a permanent sanctuary, hopefully by the High Holy Days, Rabbi Scheiner has succeeded nonetheless in gathering a committed group of several hundred young Jews to attend and organize events, help network and fundraise, and establish a lively Jewish community in a neighborhood where such a creation seemed unlikely.
A peek at Rabbi Scheiner’s biography reveals an eerie bond with downtown Manhattan: On Sept. 11, 2001, just hours after the World Trade Center crumbled into a smoldering heap, the rabbi and his wife, Esty, were married in Brooklyn.
“We tried to figure that one out,” he said, “and we got guidance to continue with the wedding and see it in the context of good. Not to feel guilty about being happy when everybody’s so sad, but to feel good for doing something righteous on a day that epitomized evil.” …
Jewish law forbids having a celebration of any type in the midst of a tragedy like 9-11. But what does Jewish law matter to Rabbi Dovi?
“I want to have a lounge-type atmosphere inside the sanctuary,” he said. “I want to undo the whole bench thing; no more hard wooden benches from 200 years ago. Instead, we’ll have comfortable one- or two-seaters, maybe coffee tables with Jewish reading materials on them.”…
For those that may not know, there are many Jewish laws governing how a synagogue is designed and utilized. Benches are not mandatory and comfort is not forbidden. However, a "lounge-type atmosphere" is definately not kosher.
And then, we have the troublesome issue of Shabbat morning services that last more than 30 minutes:
“I know where people are coming from,” Rabbi [Dovi] Scheiner said. “Even I myself, I’m a bit ADD,” referring to the hyperactivity syndrome. “It’s hard to sit for three hours. If we have a mumbling Brooklyn Orthodox synagogue, we’re not going to have any membership,” he said. “We’re sensitive to how time-sensitive and attention-sensitive people are, and how foreign this is for some of them.
“We’re not going to rewrite the laws, but make people comfortable with the ideas and warm up to them, perhaps breaking the Shabbat morning services into time sections, and invite people who aren’t into sitting for two-and-a-half hours for Torah reading and musaf to come halfway through or leave early and participate in a portion of the services.”
And then we have Rabbi Dovi's "training":
… Still, something was missing for Rabbi Scheiner, an Orthodox rabbi trained at the Maayanot Institute in Jerusalem, a renowned yeshiva known for its broad and inclusive approach to Jewish studies.
Maayanot is a Chabad Jerusalem-based ba'al teshuva program that does not grant semicha and only allows students to learn for a maximum of two years. It seems Dovi was a counsellor there. Among the other luminaries trained by working at Ma'ayanot is Max Kohanzad, a.k.a. xLubi.com.