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November 28, 2013 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-11-28

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'No Winners'

Alpert resigns from Temple Beth El after failure to take rabbinic ordination classes.

Keri Guten Cohen

Story Development Editor

T

emple Beth El officials have
"sadly accepted" the resigna-
tion of Keren Alpert after she
admitted "she did not initiate or complete
a rabbinic training program, and did
not disclose this fact" board president
Raymond Rosenfeld said in a letter to
congregants on Nov. 21.
Rosenfeld told the
JN, "Alpert was hired by
the temple in 2004 as
an educator, and then
selected to be a rab-
binic associate in 2008,
with the agreement she
would attend ALEPH,"
a Philadelphia Jewish
Keren Alpert
Renewal institution
offering distance learn-
ing toward rabbinic ordination.
At end of the three years or so, the
expected time period, then-President
David Handleman had conversations with

her about how it was going" Rosenfeld
said. "We began to plan an ordination, a
wonderful, big event at Temple Beth El.
It was a private smichah (ordination); it
was unusual, but Keren was part of our
community. We wanted to celebrate it
locally on the assumption she had done
the ALEPH curriculum. She told every-
one she had completed it, so we did an
ordination here in May 2012.
"I went back to Keren six months ago
and said we'd like for her to do an ordina-
tion from ALEPH also, an institutional
smichah. Keren said she'd be happy to do
it. From there, everything ultimately fell
apart. We discovered she had not taken
classes.
"It's sad and painful for everyone; there
are no winners, only losers — Keren and
her family, the congregation who loved her,
individuals she developed relationships
with; she is bright and talented:' he said.
Alpert of Grosse Pointe Farms, who
is married and has three children, was
known as a gifted educator who connect-
ed with young people, a moving speaker

and, according to Rosenfeld's congrega-
tional letter, "one of the most beloved
figures in our community:'
The letter also informs congregants
that even though Alpert never trained as
a rabbi, the Jewish rites she performed —
weddings, b'nai mitzvot, baby namings
and conversions — are "absolutely valid:'
Rabbis are required for conversion and
Beth El Rabbi Daniel Syme attended all of
them with Alpert.
In her resignation letter, Alpert wrote,
"I sincerely appreciate all the love and
support I have received from this con-
gregation from the day I arrived here. I
thank the Temple's leadership for accept-
ing my resignation and for allowing my
family and me to move forward. I hope
that, in time, you can forgive my very
poor judgment."
The JN was unable to reach Alpert for
comment.
Beth El in Bloomfield Township is
making a grief and loss specialist avail-
able to adults or children in the con-
gregation who need help processing the

situation.
"Although Keren played a huge role at
Temple Beth El, we are all working very
hard to make sure that all the services
and programming that we offer our con-
gregants continue seamlessly," Rosenfeld
told the JN. "Rabbi Daniel Syme, Cantor-
ial Soloist Rachel Kalmowitz, b'nai mitz-
vot tutor Alan Lowen and the entire staff
are redoubling their efforts to make sure
that the impact of Keren's resignation on
our members is minimized.
"And we are all very excited about the
arrival of our new lead rabbi on March
1, Rabbi Mark Miller from Congregation
Beth Israel in Houston. [Syme will step
aside as lead rabbi when Miller arrives.]
In addition, we will begin a search for a
replacement for Keren, and expect to have
a second new rabbi by summer 2014.
"Since 1850, we have stood united as
Temple Beth El despite many varied chal-
lenges we have faced together" Rosenfeld
said in his letter. "I have every confidence
that this situation will be another that we
will handle, together, with strength" ❑

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November 28 • 2013

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