No matter what you call him – Ethan, Reverend Adler or a Red Sox fan – for almost 30 years, Congregation Beth David of Narragansett has called Ethan Adler their spiritual leader. And as of Aug. 18, the congregation can now also call him Rabbi.
In a recent interview, Rabbi Adler shared that he had always planned to become a rabbi, carrying on the tradition on both his mother’s and father’s sides of the family. In fact, when he was newly married to his wife Wendy, he contemplated studying at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City during the week and commuting home on the weekends. However, he and his wife started a family, other priorities arose and the timing was never quite right until a few years ago.
Up until now, Ethan was Rev (Reverend) Adler for Congregation Beth David. This is an honorary title some synagogues give to someone with the knowledge and experience to lead their community. With encouragement from his friend and colleague Rabbi Richard Perlman, Ethan applied to the Vaad HaRabbonim of America (The American Board of Rabbis). Taking advantage of the advent of distance learning, the Vaad HaRabbonim has developed a remarkable course of study that, when successfully completed, qualifies the student for S’mikhah (certificate of rabbinical ordination). The Vaad credited Ethan for his many years of experience teaching children, youth and adults and for officiating at many Jewish life cycle events, as well as meeting the diverse needs of the community. Ethan then continued his study of Talmud and Jewish law with the Vaad, and. after passing the required examination, received his certification, thus earning the title of Rabbi.
Now that Ethan is Rabbi Adler, he assures us that he won’t lose his sense of humor and will continue to use it from the bimah. “Prayer is serious business. Humor gives it the human touch and keeps congregants’ attention, as they are always listening for the next one-liner.” The only thing he expects to change, in terms of his leadership role, is that he hopes to be more involved with the Rhode Island Board of Rabbis and with rabbinic programs throughout the state.
To Rabbi Adler, the favorite aspect of his leadership role in the community is “the honor and privilege of having families’ confidence and trust and to be present at and help them observe life cycle events, both the joyous ones and the sad ones. I am privileged to be able to be present for families experiencing difficult times.”
On a happier note, Rabbi Adler says he is always “thrilled to officiate at a baby-naming, which represents a world of potential, the future.” He has presided at the weddings of some of the babies he’s named and even led their children’s bar/bat mitzvah services – a true l’dor va-dor (from generation to generation) experience.
From the very first service Ethan led at Congregation Beth David, he realized it was a very special place. The congregation accepted Ethan and his family, and he was thankful for their love, support and care when his first wife Wendy passed away. He is equally grateful for the congregation’s support in happier times as well, such as the Aufrufs for his marriage to Lori and for his daughter Jennifer and her husband Seth, and his daughter, Dori, and her husband Jason, and now also for his ordination.
CBD and the Jewish community at large will honor Rabbi Adler on Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth David, 102 Kingstown Road, Narragansett. His brother, Rabbi Elan Adler (visiting from Israel) and Rabbi Richard Perlman will preside over the ceremony welcoming him into the rabbinate. This will be followed by a brief service and dessert buffet.
CBD invites the entire community – members and non-members alike – to help celebrate this event. Please RSVP to Lori Adler (401-789-9029 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gladys Jacober (email@example.com) no later than Sept. 18 if you plan on attending.
BETH DWORETZKY is a member of the board of directors at Congregation Beth David.