Rabbi Victor Urecki loves comic books. In his office stand 18-inch figurines of
eternal enemies Batman and The Joker.
The Caped Crusader and his arch-nemesis observe much of the rabbi’s
day-to-day duties in the synagogue, which he has served for 25 years. Urecki’s wife Marilyn said the comics help
“It’s not like, ‘Oh… this is the rabbi, I don’t know how to
act around him, I don’t know how to talk to him,’” Marilyn said.
that my husband has a comic book room and he reads all kinds of comics, then
wears the shirts that have Superman or the Green Lantern on them. That brings them down to say, ‘Hey, I can
talk to him and relate to him, if I have a problem, it’s ok for me to go
Victor has a comic book room in his home and estimates he and
his wife have amassed more than 70,000 issues – the Library of Congress has
100,000 issues in its collection. The
rabbi, who considers the grandson of the founder of Marvel comics one of his friends, said he wants what he likes in
life to be a part of his faith.
“It’s not the only thing in your life, it’s part of who you
are,” Victor said. “No matter what you do in life, it should relate to that in
some positive way. I guess, I am a human
being who also happens to be a member of the Jewish faith, here are my things
that I enjoy. How do those things also
get enriched by my religious experience?”
On a weekday morning at the synagogue, Urecki leads 10 Jewish
men in a minyan – or prayer service.
Steve Max was the synagogue’s president when Urecki was hired
in 1986. Max said he knew immediately
that Urecki was the man for the job.
“It was love at first sight,” Max said. “We liked him, 24 or
25 years old at the time. Him being
special is his youth and his love for the youth, and he loves everybody. He’s just got a special aura about him, not
religiously. He’s just what we call a
For a quarter of a century, Rabbi Urecki has not only worked
with the youth of his own synagogue, but also with the youth of other area
churches. This May, he will conduct his
third commencement address at a Charleston Catholic High School graduation ceremony and he routinely
interacts with the Islamic Association of West Virginia. Monsignor Ed Sadie said he sees strong
connections between Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
“Elder brothers and sisters definitely states that we’re all
members of the same family,” Sadie said. “As members of the same family we have
disagreements, we have tensions, but we also have a deep strong love for one
another as brothers and sisters. I’ve
come to appreciate that more because of Rabbi Urecki.”
Urecki said he sees those interfaith interactions as
“When I see other religious people, I’m not looking at them
challenging their faith,” Urecki said. “I’m the outsider looking in, taking
notes. Saying, ‘I like what they’re
doing, that’s really neat.’ I can apply
that to my tradition and grow.”
Urecki said he’s been blessed to have had the same job in the
same place since his graduation from Yeshiva University.
“I get up at 3 o’clock every morning,” Urecki said. “I
prepare my classes them come down here to work out. I never get tired of it. I talk to people all the time, they’re tired
of their professions. I just like to be
at the beach is my goal. I’d love to live at a beach, but the problem is Charleston, WV is 520 miles away from a beach.
“I don’t know how I can ever leave this place. The people are wonderful. I’ve learned so much about myself, so much
about my religion thanks to other communities here. It’s been a wonderful experience, it’s the
Urecki said he’ll incorporate all his life experience into