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November 15, 2002 - Image 116

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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.

liktante
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Detroit

(313) 865-0331

618120

eviews

however. It's also the story of how
Fried, who was not raised in an obser-
vant household, rediscovered his
Jewish identity as he came to say daily
Kaddish for his father.
'Am I here as a journalist or a wor-
Rabbi: A Congregation Searches for Its
shiper?" Fried asks. By the time, the
Leader (Bantam Books; $25.95).
book ends, it's clear that Fried is both
Fried, the former editor of
and that is what gives his story its elo-
Philadelphia magazine, spent nearly
quent voice and
three years chroni-
novelistic tone.
cling the efforts of
This is Fried
Har Zion Temple
as
he talks about
— a sprawling
Wolpe,
once the
synagogue of some
rabbi
at
his
1,400 families on
childhood
syna-
Philadelphia's
gogue
in
Main Line — to
Harrisburg, Pa.:
find a new rabbi.
"You never for-
The
get
your first
Conservative shul
1.4
rabbi.
When I
was faced with
pray,
I
still pause
A Congregation
the task of replac-
where
he
Searches
ing Gerald
paused, emote
for Its Leader
Wolpe, a noted
where
he emot-
sermonizer who
STEPHEN FRIED
ed."
had been at Har
Fried is also
Zion for 30 years.
dead
on target as
Which direc-
the
committee
tion would the
sizes up candi-
selection commit-
dates. There's
tee go — a bril-
Perry Rank,
liant speaker or
who's
nearly
someone congre-
A fascinating look at
bald
and
wears
his kip-
gants could call by his first
congregational politics
pah at an angle clipped
name? Someone who was a
to his last strands of
great fund-raiser — a real
hair. That makes him look goofy, says
"closer" — or a rabbi who could
Fried, and quoting Bob Dylan in a
develop new programming to lure
sermon won't fly with the search com-
younger members?
mittee.
But the biggest issue, Fried writes,
And there's Jacob Herber, Har Zion's
was "whether baby boomers and the
popular young assistant rabbi. "I love
generations after them want their cler-
Jacob," says one synagogue officer,
gy to be as dress-casual as the rest of
"but if he says one more word about
their lives, or whether the significant
the [NHL New York] Rangers from
return to religion in the 1990s is made
the bimah, I'll kill him."
up of people who will ultimately desire
In addition, the board contacts sev-
more formality."
eral candidates without going through
Fried got terrific access to the usual-
the Conservative movement's Rabbinic
ly closed selection process. He had a
Assembly, or as Fried calls it, "the rab-
mole on the search committee and he
bis union." That's a no-no. But Har
often sat during Shabbat services, tak-
Zion lets it be known that it is willing
ing notes when he could, running to
to pay as much as $190,000 annually
the bathroom to scribble down his
for the right candidate.
thoughts when he couldn't.
Har Zion ultimately breaks a few
The result is a fascinating look at
more rules in finding its perfect rabbi,
congr eoational politics and the busi-
but as Fried notes, its choice may prove
ness of being rabbi.
to be "the transitional romance needed
This isn't Har Zion story alone,

Here's some advice for any synagogue
that will be looking for a senior or
associate rabbi in the next couple of
years: Read Stephen Fried's The New

4 \—

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