Rodeph Sholom 175th Congregant Stories

As a child on the upper west side in the 1950’s and 60’s I was privileged to attend religious school at Rodeph Sholom.

It was at that time that I first met cantor then Rabbi Gunther Hershburg.
What a thrill and honor it was to have him officiate at my wedding January 18 1970.

I haven’t lived on the upper west side for over 40 years, however I have always thought of Rodolph Sholom as my Shul.

Catherine Szucs Eilenberg

A small story.

Like many in New York, we are not native New Yorkers, and came to live in the city from London, knowing practically no one and having no family or history here. The finer points of East Side and West Side meant nothing to us; we simply found a place to live within walking distance of my husband’s office on the East Side. We joined an East Side synagogue, hoping to find a sense of community, but somehow the chemistry never felt quite right.

When it came time for our son Ben to attend religious school, there was an added issue: he was being tutored in math several afternoons a week, and that did not fit in with the synagogue’s schedule. There was nothing to be done. Ben would not be able to go to Hebrew school, since there was no question about his long-term need for help in math. A few years passed. I was increasingly concerned that Ben was missing out on a Jewish education and would also miss out on being a Bar Mitzvah. (I was born Jewish but had no formal Jewish education, and my husband was raised in the Church of England, so such an education seemed especially important to us.)

One day, I got talking with the mother of one of Ben’s friends about this, and she invited us to come to a service at Rodeph; she thought we might be able to find a way through our dilemma there. We went, we saw, we heard, we liked. Ben and I met with Rabbi Matt to talk things over. We found the understanding we needed. His schedule was accommodated. He was able to study. Cantor Garfein, Rabbi Spratt (not a rabbi then!) and Rabbi Levine each helped. We were welcomed. Our son’s Bar Mitzvah was, quite simply, a wonderful day. Earlier this year, I was stunned, when in the middle of an ordinary phone conversation with Ben, he suddenly said out of the blue: “Mom, today’s the tenth anniversary of my Bar Mitzvah!” Rodeph gave us that gift, and we shall always be grateful.
Gayle Feldman

We became members of Rodeph Sholom when we moved to the City in 2005, coming from Rockville Centre LI. There was no doubt that we would join the congregation at Rodeph Sholom as our son had previously resided on the Upper West Side and our granddaughter Haley had a most enjoyable and fulfilling experience as a student at the Day School. At that time we came under the spell of Rabbi Levine, whose aura of intellect, oratory skills and general qualities of “menschhood” captivated us from the start. Rabbi Levine, Cantor Garfein and the inspired clergy have kept us eager to attend and enjoy the moving services and special discussion events at CRS.
-Marie and Herb Rothchild

We moved back to NYC about five years ago after 26 years in Westchester. We went “Synagogue Shopping.” We visited several Congregations on Friday nights for services. Rabbi Spratt asked on a Friday night if anyone was present for the first time. We raised our hands, and Ben called us forward and made us part of the service and feel totally welcome. No other Synagogue came close; we joined Rodeph immediately. Rabbi Levine and everyone have also been wonderful. Rodeph is an important part of our family’s life.
-Peter and Ruth Goodstein

“It was incredibly meaningful to give our daughter Penelope her Hebrew name – Ahuva – last June with Rabbi Levine… We stood on the same stage that we both became B’nei Mitzvah many years ago, surrounded by so many of the same family and friends. And that’s what Rodeph is all about – sharing wonderful memories, love, and a sense of community from generation to generation.”
– Carolyn Tisch Blodgett

Happiness is the first thought that comes to my head and my heart when I think about my 10 years spent as a member of The Rodeph Sholom Theater Company… Each year I added more and more people to my extended family and each day that I step foot into CRS, it’s an enormous love fest…. I have worked as a Pre-K teacher for the last 7 years at RSS where I met my husband Joshua Moshen… The best part about CRS is that no matter what happens in life, you can always come back home and there will always be someone to greet you with open arms.”
– Samantha Moshen

“I have spent most of my life as a member of Rodeph Sholom, having joined the congregation just before my 8th birthday in the fall of 1953, almost 63 years ago. I have so many wonderful memories of my life at Rodeph.”
– Mark Biderman

“CRS has been a part of the Schafler family DNA for three generations… My father and mother were dedicated to the congregation in both word and deed and their commitment continues to inspire us. In a world where technology and new business thrives on the concept of disruption, Rodeph Sholom has been a haven of continuity for our family and so many others.”
– Scott Schafler

“In 1995 my partner and I were looking for a rabbi who would be willing to marry us, a gay couple… that was not an easy task in 1995… Joan and I were welcomed as a couple and I was welcomed as a prospective convert. Twenty years later we are still in love with Rodeph Sholom. Truly wonderful, accessible clergy, interesting activities, educational opportunities, and ample ways to volunteer and do service keep us coming back.”
– Val Coleman

“In June 2011 we were busily putting the finishing touches on planning our daughter’s wedding… 12 days before the wedding one of her good friends tragically committed suicide… Needless to say, she was devastated as were we all. She felt unable to imagine a wedding– such a joyous occasion — in the face of this overwhelming loss. We reached out to Rabbi Lisa Grushcow. Not only did she counsel and comfort Rachel but she agreed to officiate at a graveside memorial for our daughter’s late friend, despite the fact that neither he nor his family or fiancé had any connection to Rodeph Sholom. Rabbi Grushcow led a beautiful sensitive service celebrating his life… We just marked our daughter’s fifth wedding anniversary and her friend’s fifth yahrzeit. His death is still painful but Rabbi Grushcow’s wisdom and kindness helped our daughter embrace life and allowed us to fully celebrate her joyous wedding.
Arnold Bressler