Rabbi Richard Schachet, (zichrono li-v’racha) founder and Rabbi Emeritus of Valley Outreach Synagogue (renamed Congregation P’nai Tikvah in 2011), was a native of Laurelton, Long Island.
An accomplished academician and rabbi, he earned undergraduate degrees in Business Administration and Hebrew Education, a Masters degree in Social Anthropology, all from New York University, and a Doctorate in Theology from Princeton. Rabbi Schachet did his rabbinic studies at both the Academy for Higher Jewish Learning and Yeshiva and Mesivta Rabeinu Chaim Ozer, from which he graduated with honors.
Rabbi Schachet co-founded the Samaritan Halfway House, while holding pulpits in Merrick and Bellmore, Long Island, and became known for his work in the field of drug abuse, working especially with middle class families.
The subject of articles in Good Housekeeping, Pageant, and the Long Island Post, as well as the New York Times, and was published in an anthology on “The Jewish Family in A Changing World,” writing about middle class “Jewish Drug Addiction and the Role of the Rabbi.” He was a consultant to the New York Jewish Federation, where he helped facilitate the first conference ever held on Jewish Drug Abuse. The Rabbi was quite active in Civil Rights, participating in sit-ins in the South, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, and being present at the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. An activist in defending equality for all peoples, he was on the board for the Campaign for Liberty, which successfully prevented the Oregon Initiative, an initiative that would take away the civil rights from the Gay and Lesbian Community.
He was one of the co-authors of Tikunei Nefashot, a non-sexist modern High Holiday Prayer Book, used in many congregations throughout the country.
After working in Jerusalem for a year, Rabbi Schachet held a pulpit at Community Temple Beth Ohr, Brooklyn N.Y., and later, founded Valley Outreach Synagogue, in Los Angeles, CA. In 1993, Rabbi Schachet founded Valley Outreach Synagogue, Las Vegas, turning over the mantle of spiritual leadership of the congregation to Rabbi Yocheved Mintz in June of 2005, when he announced his retirement. Named by the American Biographical Institute as a “Community Leader and Noteworthy American” for three years running, he was also named a “Notable American,” and was honored by the United States Jaycees as one of the “Outstanding Young Men of America,” along with John D. Rockefeller IV, Jessie Jackson and Gale Sayers, that year. He is also the recipient of the Martin Buber Award for outstanding work in Jewish Life. The Rabbi was honored with the title R. J. E. (Reform Jewish Educator), an award given to only the outstanding Jewish Educators in the country by the Reform Movement.
Rabbi Schachet was well-known for his participation in interfaith activities and was a member of the Interfaith Council, the Clark County Ministerial Association, and the Green Valley Interfaith Group.
Rabbi Schachet was married to Barbara Zalkind Schachet, z’l’, and is survived by four beloved children, ten grandchildren and many, many friends.