Rabbi Zuckerman installed
10-year pact seals the deal
By DEBORAH MOON
article created on: 2010-11-01T00:00:00
Before a crowd of more than 200, Congregation Shaarie Torah lovingly installed its Orthodox-trained, flexible, chocoholic, sweet, eclectic, quirky and wise Rabbi Arthur Zuckerman and confirmed the relationship with a 10-year contract at an event that grossed more than $46,000 for the “contemporary, independent synagogue rooted in Jewish tradition.”
At the Oct. 24 celebration of the new long-term contract between the 105-year-old synagogue and its “57-year-young” rabbi, congregation President Steve Carver said, “Rabbi and Simi, I want to thank you for deciding to share your lives with us.”
Describing the search that first brought Zuckerman to Shaarie Torah three years ago, Carver said, “We needed someone who is Orthodox in personal observance and in training but able to manage a synagogue in transition. We needed someone who is a shepherd, taking care of the hurting in our midst. We needed someone who is centered in the study of Torah, and we needed someone who is flexible ... and well ... a little bit quirky like us.”
Various speakers spoke about those and other attributes of the man they fondly call Rabbi Zucky.
Emcee David Fuks, CEO of Cedar Sinai Park, said the rabbi shares his assets beyond the walls of Shaarie Torah. He praised the rabbi for bringing his guidance, wisdom, humanity and sweetness to CSP, often getting a surprising level of attention even from seniors who seldom respond to others.
“Something happens when they are in your presence that is nothing short of miraculous,” said Fuks.
Next year Zukerman will further expand his reach into the community when he becomes the next president of the Oregon Board of Rabbis.
Zuckerman’s younger son Amitai, a student at the University of Oregon, described his father’s “eclectic knowledge,” including a degree in poultry science and extensive knowledge of Judaism, Israel and weapons of mass destruction.
He said the most valuable lesson he learned from his father was “Eat dessert first. … I got my chocoholism from him and that is one of the greatest gifts he gave me.”
Amitai told the congregation that “without my mother, my father would probably still be driving a tractor on a kibbutz.”
Speaking later in the evening, Simi Zuckerman said that the couple first lived on a kibbutz in the Negev where her husband “knew the names and personalities of every one of the 272 cows.” She said she often jokes, “I married an Israeli cowboy and wound up with an American rabbi.”
Introducing the Mitzvah Moment—with people simply asked to fill out a pledge card, wave it in the air and hand it to a host—Marje Jacobson called Shaarie Torah her second home. Having been involved with the congregation for decades, Jacobson said, “Shaarie Torah has always been known as a synagogue with heart and with Rabbi Zuckerman and Simi as our leaders, that won’t change.”
The Zuckermans’ older son, Rabbi Nevo Zuckerman of Baltimore, performed the official installation and told congregants, “You have an amazing Rav you should go to and get advice from him.”
Following the installation, Rabbi Arthur Zuckerman said, “The responsibility you have bestowed on both of us is very humbling and we will make every effort to uphold it.”
In a video produced for the occasion by Ron Appelbaum, Zuckerman talked about the future of the shul “that has been rooted in tradition since its creation in 1905.”
“In 2010, we are moving forward…we are looking for change,” he continued in the video. Then he alluded to plans he intends to discuss with the board for Friday evenings “that will bring in 20- to 30-year-olds… But for now it’s a secret, so I can’t talk about it.”
The celebration was held in the social hall of Shaarie Torah at 920 NW 25th Ave. The evening drew 202 people including Rabbis Michael Cahana, Rabbi Daniel Isaak, Rabbi Bradley Greenstein and Rabbi Shlomo Truzman. Lifelong member Frieda Cohen led hamotzi.
The evening, chaired by Dori Tenner, with help from Bonnie Goldsmith and Jerry Newman, included a kosher dinner of chicken or salmon and music by Linda Lee Michelet.