|| About Rabbi Adler (a little longer, but worthwhile)
Who is Rabbi Elan Adler?
I was born in Israel, a son of Hungarian Holocaust survivors. At the age of 6 ½, our family moved to America, landing for 2 years in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and then Providence, Rhode Island where my parents, sister, brother and his family still reside. I attended and graduated from the Providence Hebrew Day School and its high chool division, the New England Academy of Torah. It was not yet in vogue in those days to spend a year of study in Israel following graduation, neither did I want to leave Providence. So where does a yarmulke-wearing, Sabbath-observing young man go to college? That’s right, the Dominican-run Providence College, where 95% of the faculty was either a “Father” or a “Sister”, and brother, it was heaven. The faculty and student body treated me with respect and deference, and I appreciated that, at a time when openly Jewish kids on other campuses across the country were attacked or berated. As a transition school between the Orthodox and secular worlds, Providence College was perfect and still has my deep appreciation.
I served for one year as New England Regional Director of NCSY (National Conference of Synagogue Youth), and then attended and graduated Rhode Island College.
It was on to Yeshiva University in New York’s upper Manhattan to pursue Rabbinic studies. While there, I was inspired by many outstanding Rabbis and personalities, on a campus rich with tradition, faith and excellence. I was blessed to be involved in hundreds of youth programs run by the outreach arm of Yeshiva University (many of those programs with Richard Joel, current President of Yeshiva University), doubly blessed to be the Director of the high school dormitory for 5 years, and triply blessed to be appointed as one of several aides to the world-renowned Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik for two years in the early 1980’s. Now, that’s an experience you don’t forget- setting appointments and welcoming them into Rabbi Soloveitchik’s apartment, helping the Rav to read various Talmudic texts in small print, bring the Rabbi to various functions and meetings on campus, and even flying with him many times to Boston. Those two years at the feet of one of the greatest minds and leaders of the Jewish people was a rare privilege enjoyed by a tiny few, and thank God I was among them.
After receiving my rabbinic ordination, I enjoyed 7 years as the Assistant and then Associate Rabbi of the 800-family Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Connecticut (those were exciting years with outstanding guests speakers and Cantors, engaged by philanthropic members Carl and Dorothy Bennet, original owners of the entire CalDor chain of stores). Former President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, attorney and author Alan Dershowitz and other luminaries ascended our podium often, while we enjoyed the occasional presence of Agudath Sholom’s favorite son, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman. After several years in Stamford, I began the first of 17 years in Baltimore, Maryland as the Associate Rabbi of the 1300-family Beth Tfiloh Congregation. During my 7 ½ years there, I was made to feel like THE Rabbi of many hundreds of families, and also was invited to be on the boards of several communal institutions and to speak in dozens of interfaith settings. It was in Baltimore where I was privileged to develop a high community profile, and was often called on to contribute articles to the Baltimore Jewish Times and appear on local television news for comments on Jewish or interfaith issues.
And it was also in Baltimore where God blessed me with the greatest gift ever, meeting an outstandingly gifted woman (Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler) with two beautiful daughters (Ariella and Shani), and having all four of us unite under the same chuppah (wedding canopy) on December 11, 1996. Our wedding was attended by 1500 people in the Beth Tfiloh sanctuary, including the entire day school and staff, congregation members, close family, and friends, and was covered by various media.
After having been mentored by exceptional Rabbis over the years- Joseph Ehrenkranz in Stamford and Mitchell Wohlberg at Beth Tfiloh, I finally received the invitation every Rabbi desires: to be THE Rabbi of a congregation. With great joy, I accepted the invitation of the Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Congregation in Baltimore to become their new Rabbi. While only a fraction of the size of previous congregations that I served, it was to be the highlight of my Rabbinic career, with a warmth and friendliness and charm that drew in over 100 families during my almost 10-year tenure. Our synagogue was on the map for its creative programming, dedicated core of volunteers and loyal membership, and a willingness by the good-hearted leadership to let the Rabbi speak his mind on controversial issues of the day. Whether it was full and unqualified support for Israel, including aliyah, or horror at the 2005 Gaza disengagement, or being on a panel following the showing of a movie about Orthodox homosexuals, or expressing shock at Rabbinic apathy in the face of sexual abuse by clergy, or stating my feelings about Jews for Jesus or Rabbis officiating at intermarriages, I was always ready to be open with my congregation and community. Rather than being shunned or marginalized for my honesty, I felt my frankness and integrity complimented by being the first Orthodox Rabbi in Baltimore elected as the President of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis, from 2004-2006. During my years at Moses Montefiore, I also was twice named co-chair with Shoshana S. Cardin, respected world Jewish leader, of the Baltimore Jewish Leadersip Assembly, bring together leaders of all Jewish organizations in Maryland for discussion, planning, networking and action. At my installation as Rabbi of MMAE, as well as at my Farewell dinner, I was privileged to have speakers with whom I’ve developed a warm rapport- NAACP former President Keisi Mfume, Cardinal Willaim Keeler of Baltimore, Shoshana Cardin, Senator Ben Cardin, Baltimore TV legend Richard Sher, Rabbinic colleagues and communal leaders who encouraged me through their example to serve, inspire and educate the wide face of God in Baltimore and beyond.
Farewell dinner? You may be asking, Rabbi, after nearly 25 years in the Rabbinate, happily married to Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler and the Abba of Ariella and Shani, seemingly at the top of your game, with your very own congregation, what’s with the farewell dinner? Why go anywhere?
\Where do I go from Baltimore, where the Jewish people were always in my heart? To Israel, the heart of the Jewish people. Israel, where my wife wanted to come for years, where my older daughter moved to in September, 2009, where I was born, the Jewish people’s homeland and brightest future, the place where God desired Jewish people to come since his promise to Abraham and Sarah 3800 years ago.
Where does a Jew go after Baltimore?
We came home to Israel on our Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah flight on July 7, 2010, with God’s help, and are living and loving our dream. We live in Maale Adumim, less than a half hour from the Dead Sea, a beautiful community of nearly 40,000 people- modern, clean, kid friendly, and only a few minutes by car from Jerusalem.
After nearly 50 years on the road, it’s nice to come home!