Born in Chicago and raised in Cleveland, Willie Balk studied at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh in the Old City of Jerusalem, under the leadership of Rabbi Aharon Bina and Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl. He went on to Yeshiva University and graduated with a degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the Sy Syms School of Business. He pursued rabbinic ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and a master’s degree in Jewish education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, both of Yeshiva University. Willie held rabbinic internships in the Office of Student Life at YU and at the Young Israel of Plainview on Long Island. Additionally, he was a Beit Midrash Fellow at Congregation Rinat Yisrael (Teaneck, NJ) and Young Israel of Scarsdale (Scarsdale, NY), a fellow at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought of Yeshiva University and at the iCenter for Israel Education, a member of AIPAC’s Leffell Israel Fellowship, and a member of the Seminary Leadership Project of JOIN For Justice.
Willie previously taught at The Yavneh Academy in New Jersey and The Hebrew High School of New England in Connecticut, where he also served as the director of West Hartford NCSY and JSU. He enjoys cooking, country music, and Cleveland sports teams, and will relish the 2016 Cavaliers NBA championship with gusto for years to come.
Willie currently serves as an academic adviser for the Undergraduate Torah Study programs at Yeshiva University where he has also taught in the Isaac Breuer College. He is married to Estee (Gross) of Teaneck, and she is an educator and Kallah teacher. Together, they serve as youth directors of Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, NJ, where Willie also serves on the rabbinic staff. Willie & Estee are the proud parents of Yaakov Yehoshua and Yair, the cutest kids in the world (although, they may be a bit biased).