Rabbi Gershon will bid farewell to Shaarey Zedek.
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he decision Rabbi William
Gershon finally arrived at
is one that will elevate him
from an associate rabbi at
Congregation Shaarey Zedek to
the senior rabbi at a Conserva-
tive synagogue in Minneapolis.
After nine years at Shaarey
Zedek, his first job out of rab-
binical school, Rabbi Gershon
feels it's time to move on. He an-
ticipates beginning his new job
Rumors about Rabbi Ger-
shon's departure were confirmed
last week with a letter from
Shaarey Zedek President Alan S.
Schwartz, who wrote that the
synagogue did everything it could
to encourage Rabbi Gershon to
stay, including the option of a
Mr. Schwartz said the congre-
gation has formed a search com-
mittee to look for a new rabbi, but
it's too early in the process to dis-
cuss anything further.
"He just told us last week," Mr.
Schwartz said. "I don't even know
what level of rabbi we will seek.
We're going to see what's out
Rabbi Gershon, 37, said he
was pursued by Beth El Syna-
gogue, a 1,400-family congrega-
tion, and attracted to the idea of
serving as senior rabbi while rais-
ing his children — ages 7, 5 and
1— in a Jewish neighborhood.
Because Rabbi Gershon doesn't
drive on Shabbat, he is limited to
living in close proximity to the
Southfield synagogue, a neigh-
borhood he feels is no longer Jew-
"After weighing all the possi-
bilities, my wife and I conclud-
ed this was the best choice," he
said. "It provides a special op-
portunity we didn't want to pass
up, although it will be difficult to
leave friends and supporters in
"I believe I've made an impor-
tant impact and feel proud of the
work I've done here, and I am
very fond of the congregation."
The rabbi's new synagogue is
one of five Conservative congre-
gations in the metropolitan Min-
neapolis area and the founding
congregation of United Syna-
gogue Youth. Two of its previous
rabbis were presidents of the
Rabbinical Assembly, and "the
congregation is well respected in
the Conservative movement,"
Rabbi Gershon said.
Beth El Synagogue has been
without a senior rabbi for a year
and, according to Rabbi Gershon,
the associate rabbi is too young
to assume the top position. Offi-
cials from Beth El could not be
reached for comment.
Rabbi William Gershon: Leaving
Rabbi Gershon, a New Jersey
native, said the Minneapolis syn-
agogue first approached him last
year, and he made his final deci-
sion a few weeks ago. The rabbi
said he will conclude his con-
tractual period with Shaarey
Zedek before his summer depar-
"We wanted him to stay and
asked him to do so, but he felt he
had a better offer in Minneapo-
lis," Mr. Schwartz said.
As Shaarey Zedek's associate
rabbi, Rabbi Gershon had a full
range of rabbinic responsibilities,
including the supervision of the
congregation's educational pro-
grams. He was also active in the
community, holding a leadership
position with the United Jewish
Appeal's Men's Cabinet, Hillel
Day School, the Agency for Jew-
ish Education and the upcoming
Miracle Mission for Teens. Rab-
bi Gershon will participate in the
first part of the June 23 teen mis-
Shaarey Zedek Senior Rabbi
Irwin Groner said Rabbi Ger-
shon's decision came as a sur-
'We hold him in great affection
and regard and want the best for
him," said Rabbi Groner, who
praised his counterpart for initi-
ating a number of creative pro-
grams at the synagogue.
One of those programs was Ta-
pestry, an annual fall event that
provides congregants with edu-
cational and cultural experiences.
Rabbi Groner also lauded Rab-
bi Gershon for developing and
implementing a lunch-and-learn
program, featuring well-known
figures in the Conservative move-
Shaarey Zedek is planning a
farewell for Rabbi Gershon and
his family during the June 8
Shabbat service. ❑