Rabbi Alan Meyerowitz
brings his 'boundless energy'
to Congregation B'nai Moshe
LISA JACKNOW ELLIAS
Special to The Jewish News
hen Allan Meyerowitz as-
sumed the post of rabbi at
Cong. B'nai Moshe in
August, he found the Con-
servative synagogue in
need of direction and facing hard
The 35-year-old rabbi with
"boundless energy" immediately set
upon the task of revitalizing the
veteran Oak Park synagogue. That
revitalization, he says, will certainly
include attracting young people to the
congregation and will probably in-
volve moving from the 35-year-old
Oak Park site to the West Bloomfield
The year-long search for a replace-
ment for Rabbi Stanely Rosenbaum
concentrated on finding someone who
"would be able to be religiously and
socially attractive to younger people,"
according to Norbert Reinstein, head
of the search committee. Rabbi
Meyerowitz fit the bill.
Ordained in 1980 at the Jewish
Theological Seminary, Rabbi
Meyerowitz comes to B'nai Moshe
from the West Clarkstown Jewish
Center in Spring Valley, N.Y. He is an
activist for Soviet Jewry, and was
named the first Soviet Jewry chair-
man of the Conservative Rabbinical
Assembly in 1984. In 1986, he was
elected the youngest member of the
Rabbinical Assembly Executive
Becoming a rabbi was not a
lifelong goal. He says he hated
Hebrew school as a boy, and was
registered as pre-med at the Univer-
sity of Rochester until some friends
convinced him to get more involved
with the campus Hillel Foundation
and to take courses in Judaic studies.
He says it was as if someone had turn-
ed on a light for him.
"I felt something special when I
began to study as an adult;' he
recalls. "I loved being involved with
other Jews on a communal level. I
also felt a responsibility to the Jewish
people, partly because my mother and
grandmother are Holocaust survivors.
One morning during my junior year
of college, I awakened thinking that
the world had enough Jewish doctors
— it needed a rabbi. At the time, I
didn't know what the job entailed.
Now I do know, and I'm grateful I
made that decision!'
It is this special feeling for his
people that Rabbi Meyerowitz hopes
to share with members of his new con-
gregation. And he thinks that B'nai
Moshe is the right place for a man
with his goals and personality.
"This synagogue has a unique
message to give," he explains "It is
heimish, joyous, and still a traditional
Conservative environment. I believe
that Judaism should be joyous, but
serious at the same time. That's
where most of American Jewry has
suffered: they haven't been able to
make that leap. They are too solemn,
too pompous and not joyous enough.
"There has been an attitude
created that Jews are good at com-
plaining, at being morose about the
On the go at B'nai Moshe:
way the world has treated Jews;' Rab- tle league!'
bi Meyerowitz adds. "I totally
He will have help in getting older
disagree with that. You have to em- children involved in the synagogue,
phasize the most positive parts of he says. His wife, Robin Sack
Jewish life. I want to teach people to Meyerowitz, was principal of a Con-
love Judaism. It has values worth liv- servative afternoon school in New
ing by that can enrich you. A York, and she has been hired to fill
synagogue should be an expression of the empty slot as youth director at
what's good in the world!'
Rabbi Meyerowitz approaches his
Renewing the interest of adults in
new role with characteristic energy the congregation is another priority
and enthusiasm. Two weeks after his for the rabbi. He is planning pro-
August arrival at B'nai Moshe, he had grams to involve adults, including a
compiled a list of 40 programs he "Torah Club" and senior citizens days.
wanted to introduce to the congrega- he has instituted a series of Saturday
tion. He invited children to par- luncheon lectures and discussions, on
ticipate in services, offering candy topics such as AIDS, black-Jewish
and stickers as a reward. He has a relations, abortion, suicide and
"Torah for Tots" program for pre- euthanasia. He also plans to cover
schoolers and their parents, and fami- controversial topics in his sermons.
ly Shabbat services. He believes it is On Rosh Hashanah, for example, he
important for children to be a part of spoke on surrogate parenting,
relating it to the Torah reading in
"You have to start with young which the infertile Sarah encourages
children and teach them to love Abraham to have a child with his ser-
Judaism. They should feel comfor- vant, Hagar.
"I like to get beyond the obvious,"
table in the synagogue. They have a
priceless heritage and it should be comments Rabbi Meyerowitz. "We
something that excites them. It's out- Jews have to face controversial isues.
side of everyday suburban life. There The Torah does. I swing for fast balls.
is more to life than carpools and lit- Sometimes you strike out that way,