30th of July 2014 / Serving Oregon & Southwest Washington since 1959

Shaarie Torah installs Zuckerman for decade

By DEBORAH MOON

article created on: 2010-09-15T00:00:00

Congregation Shaarie Torah invites the community to help celebrate the installation of Rabbi Arthur Zuckerman, who signed a 10-year contract with the congregation earlier this year.

The congregation will celebrate that commitment with cocktails, dinner and comedy at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 24 at Shaarie Torah, 920 NW 25th Ave.

The event will feature entertainment, which is an appropriate ingredient for the installation given the rabbi’s ability to entertain whether he’s wearing a chicken hat at “Rabbis Gone Wild” or rewarding correct answers at services with gifts of chocolate.

The evening is billed as “Purple tie optional.”

“As you know, Rabbi Zuckerman loves purple so that is why the purple tie optional,” said Linda Nemer Singer, who is on the installation committee chaired by Dori Tenner.

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 p.m. will be followed by dinner and entertainment. The installation will be conducted by Rabbi Nevo Zuckerman—son of Rabbi Arthur and Simi Zuckerman.

Since Zuckerman arrived three years ago and began shifting the formerly Orthodox congregation towards a “contemporary, independent synagogue based on Jewish tradition,” the shul’s membership has grown about 12 percent to about 300 families.

The evolution began under Rabbi Yonah Geller, who served as the congregation’s rabbi for 40 years and then as rabbi emeritus until his death in 2007. The congregation split with the Orthodox movement several decades ago when it introduced mixed seating and microphones at services.

Zuckerman has continued that transition with efforts to involve women more fully in services and other aspects of congregational life as well as by expanding opportunities for youth.

“Shaarie Torah is a living, growing organization,” said Zuckerman. “If it doesn’t progress, it’s regressing and Shaarie Torah is progressing.”

With a long-term contract in place, the Zuckermans moved from the apartment where they’d lived for the past three years into a townhome within walking distance of the shul.

“It shows stability for the synagogue,” said Zuckerman, adding, “It’s never about the rabbi. It’s about the institution. Rabbis come and go. They may be here 50 years or 40 years or three years, but ultimately it’s about the institution.”

“But the rabbi has a big part,” interrupted Singer, who served as Shaarie Torah’s first woman president about 10 years ago when women were not allowed on the bimah during services. At the time, Singer asked Geller how a woman could participate in services and he wrote a list of options.

“With the changes in the world more and more women want to participate,” she said.

And under Zuckerman, that participation has expanded even more with women now reading from the Torah. And last year at Kol Nidrei, Singer joined the procession of past presidents carrying the Torah.

“Standing there with the Torah, my heart was thumping wondering what my parents (Harry and Diane Nemer) would say if they were still alive,” said Singer.

Zuckerman, who regularly invites youth and young adults to play pool on his office pool table, has also helped the congregation’s formal and informal educational opportunities. He credits Education Director Dorice Horenstein with enhancing the formal Shabbat School and Wednesday Night School programs. And last month the synagogue hired Rafi Schraer as youth director to increase informal and youth group activities at the shul.

This fall, the rabbi and his wife will lead a Grandparents Circle, a national program modeled on the Mother’s Circle. The program is for Jewish grandparents whose grandchildren are being raised in interfaith homes and will meet at the MJCC.

“Coming up with innovative programs is what synagogues nee to do if it’s going to move forward,” he said.

Cost for the installation celebration is $72/per person if paid before Oct. 3; after Oct. 3, the cost is $85/per person.

Call 503-226-6131 for more information or to receive an invitation.

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