Shearith Finds Interim Rabbi

Shearith Finds Interim Rabbi

Congregation Shearith Israel has hired an interim rabbi to lead the Conservative intown synagogue through the next year.

[vimeo url=”video_″ width=”500″ height=”300″]Rabbi Melvin Sirner will take his position at Shearith Israel in early August. He will replace Rabbi Hillel Norry, who decided after 13 years not to seek a renewal of his contract, which expires at the end of June.

At the same time Rabbi Norry is leaving Shearith Israel, Rabbi Sirner is retiring from Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle, N.Y., where he has spent his entire career since being ordained out of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1972. He has been Beth El’s senior rabbi since 1976.

“We are very fortunate to have someone with Rabbi Sirner’s qualifications and history to come to our synagogue for the next year, and frankly I’m sure he’ll help us as we pursue our more long-term, full-time rabbi,” Shearith Israel President Josh D’Agostino said.

When the congregation couldn’t find a permanent replacement for Rabbi Norry this spring, it switched its search through the Rabbinical Assembly to a hunt for an interim rabbi and was referred to Rabbi Sirner, who was encouraged to apply, D’Agostino said.

A tribute video created by his congregation demonstrates why Rabbi Sirner’s only possible profession was rabbi.

“I think ultimately that Rabbi Sirner wasn’t 100 percent ready to fully retire,” D’Agostino said.

The rabbi is a Chicago native, a Cubs fan and a graduate of the University of Michigan.

In the New Rochelle area, he helped found the Interreligious Council, worked with Meals on Wheels and a soup kitchen, led the Westchester Board of Rabbis, and supported the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester. Nationally, he has served on the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Chancellor’s Rabbinic Cabinet at JTS.

Rabbi Sirner and his wife, Lenore, are expected in Atlanta the first week of August. Part of the attraction for them, D’Agostino said, is that they have family in the area.

Shearith Israel will renew its rabbinic search after the High Holidays.

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