Rabbi Leonard Gordon

During this year of transition, we are delighted to welcome Rabbi Leonard Gordon as our interim Rabbi.  Rabbi Gordon is an experienced rabbi and educator, a leader in social justice in the Conservative movement and an activist in interfaith relations.  He is Rabbi Emeritus at the Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia where he was Senior Rabbi for 16 years.  GJC is known as a “community of communities” and pioneered both Synaplex (diverse program options on Shabbat morning) and nurturing multiple prayer communities sharing a single institution.   In 2010 he and his family moved to Newton when his wife, Dr. Lori Lefkovitz, became the Ruderman Professor of Jewish Studies at Northeastern University.  For the next six years he was rabbi at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill.  In 2018 he received a Doctor of Ministry degree in Interfaith Studies from the Andover Newton Theological School.  His degree  focused on his work with Rabbis and Ministers exploring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and developing tools for Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Rabbi Gordon has taught comparative religion and rabbinic literature in a variety of settings, including Kenyon College, the Ohio State University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Hebrew College.  Currently he teaches in Hebrew College’s MEAH program, offering courses in the Biblical and Rabbinic semesters and a MEAH SELECT course in the reception of the Hebrew Bible in Christianity and Islam.  As a volunteer, he has chaired the Social Action committees of both the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.  He has also chaired the committee on Synagogue Transformation and Renewal of the USCJ and currently serves on the Keruv (Outreach) Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly.

At Temple Beth Sholom Rabbi Gordon is focusing his energy on enhancing our lifelong learning opportunities, teaching at the synagogue, in people’s home and in our Religious School.  He is also developing our Shabbat experience though new Sholomplex options and a program to welcome young cantorial students to the congregation.  He and Lori have two daughters, Ronya who works for the Jewish Museum in NYC and Samara who recently moved to Boston for a new positon in finance.

 

June 2019

SHALOM AND LIHITRAOT

Thank you to the Temple Beth Sholom community for welcoming me and my family with such open arms during this year as your interim rabbi.  This has been a year of making new friends, learning from wonderful students and having the opportunity to experience the blessings (and some of the frustrations) of being an “interim” rabbi.  In many ways, the role of the rabbi makes being interim especially hard.  Rabbis enter people’s lives at moments of loss and celebration; we learn about the intimate details of people’s personal histories and visit people at home, over meals, and at the hospital bed.  Although I did all of this with the understanding that our relationships would come to a formal end this month, I quite naturally came to care deeply about the people in this special community.

Beth Sholom is a congregation of volunteers, from the two Presidents with whom I served, Dave Levinson and Evie Kintzer Shorey to the committee chairs, auxiliary Presidents, members of our boards and the dozens of others who build and run programs, cook and serve meals, greet, write, and make sure things run well.  This year we built on the past and started some new traditions – housing the MEAH program from Hebrew College, the SULAM FOR EMERGING LEADERS program from the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, scholar-in-residence programs with NORTHEASTERN JEWISH STUDIES, Cantors from the HEBREW COLLEGE CANTORIAL SCHOOL, programs for pre-school families with the NEWTON JCC, and we are planning new initiatives for our elementary and middle school students together with other local congregations supported by CJP.    With these and other partnerships, and a dynamic new clergy team of RABBI ALLISON POIRIER and CANTORIAL INTERN JESSICA WOOLF, TBS has a bright and sustainable future.

Hebrew has two wonderful ways to say “good-bye.”  One is Shalom, literally, “peace,” but in effect saying, “may the blessings of peace be with you.”    I say to all of you, Shalom, may the years ahead bring you peace, joy and satisfaction, productive challenges and opportunities for growth.  The other Hebrew term is “Lihitraot,” which means “see you again!”  Lori and I live in Newton and we hope to see many of you again at events, at classes and in the community.  Shalom and Lihitraot.

Peace and see you again.

Rabbi Leonard Gordon