Miriam’s rabbi is a proud father and grandfather

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Rabbi Allan Meyerowitz serves as the director of Spiritual Care at The Miriam Hospital in Providence. A member of the National Association of Jewish Chaplains, Rabbi Meyerowitz takes great pride in his work at the Miriam, visiting with both Jewish and non-Jewish patients in times of need. 

Prior to serving as the Miriam’s rabbi, he served for 26 years as a pulpit rabbi in the United States and Canada, including a stint as senior rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Winnipeg, Canada – a congregation of 4,500 members.

Earlier in his career, Meyerowitz, now 64, was an activist, serving as the vice chairman of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and chairman of the Soviet Jewry Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly. In these roles, he spent time visiting Russia and participating in many political activities on behalf of the Russian-Jewish community. 

Meyerowitz received a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Rochester, a master’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and his ordination and a doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan. He recently concluded a year as interim rabbi at Kadimah Toras Moshe, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Boston.

He is married to Robin Meyerowitz, founding director of the Maimonides School’s Early Childhood Center in Brookline, Massachusetts. They are the parents of four adult children – two living in the U.S. and two residing in Israel (in the towns of Beitar Illit and Rehovot). They are also extremely happy to have grandchildren who love speaking Hebrew and learning Torah with the family. The Meyerowitz family is directly descended from the Chasam Sofer and Moreinu Akiva Eiger.

Meyerowitz recently sat down to answer a few questions for The Voice.

Q: Favorite Jewish food?

A: My grandmother’s stuffed cabbage.  

Q: Favorite Jewish holiday?

A: Pesach. Why? It’s great getting everyone together and celebrating freedom. I love going through all the stories of the members of my family. Also, being “wild and crazy” at the Seder, because I really believe you have to make a Seder lively and fun.

 Q: Favorite Jewish song?

A: Ne’esaf Tishrei by Svika Pick (Israeli pop singer).

 Q: Favorite Jewish movie?

A: “The Frisco Kid.”

 Q: Favorite Jewish celebrities?

A: All the leading and most influential rabbis of our time.

 Q: Favorite Israeli city to visit?

A: Beitar Illit (South of Jerusalem). Rehovot (South of Tel Aviv). I have two daughters, two sons-in-law and 10 grandchildren in those two towns.

 Q: Favorite Israeli city to live?

A: Rehovot. It is close to my kids and it is beautiful.

Q: Favorite Hebrew word?

A: Ad Kan (To be kept up to date or to be aware of what is going on).

 Q: Favorite Yiddish word?

A: Libe (Love).

 Q: Best part of keeping Kosher, worst part of keeping Kosher?

A: Best part – There are so many wonderful things to eat that are Kosher, and I am working hard to do it.

Worst part – Not being able to eat in the hospital (Miriam) cafeteria with everyone else.

Q: Favorite part of being Jewish?

A: Learning Torah and seeing my children and grandchildren learn Torah. Seeing them involved in the Torah world is the most uplifting experience. That is the reason why I am who I am.

Q: Favorite part of being a rabbi?

A: Getting the chance to share with people, to teach them and learn from them. As a chaplain, I spend a lot of time with non-Jewish people. I help them to work on their emotional stability, pains and losses in life.

Q: Favorite Jewish memory from your life/childhood?

A: I remember so many wonderful Seders in our house as an adult, where my children would take over and lead it. I remember we were living in a very old, large house that had a dining room where the ceiling was 18-feet high, and we had a tremendous food fight at 2 o’clock in the morning. The cake was up on the ceiling for a couple years after that.

Q: Greatest piece of advice someone has given you, and who gave it to you?

A: You need to care for people. – From well-known Rabbi Rav Orlowek

 Q: If you could have three dinner guests, living or from history, who would they be?

A: Rabbi Akiva [one of Judaism’s greatest scholars], Ludwig van Beethoven, Rabbi Chasam Sofer [one of Judaism’s greatest scholars and the ancestor of Meyerowitz’s family].

Q: Currently, we are experiencing an increase in anti-Semitism in the U.S. and around the world. Why do you believe we are seeing this increase and how can we, as Jews, best respond to these acts rooted in bigotry and hate?

A: Firstly, I don’t think we can use anti-Semitism for political purposes. There are some people who have tried to ascribe the rise in anti-Semitism to events attached to the American election. I think it is a continuation of a very insidious campaign against Israel and Jews that became sharper as these people have gotten more power and control. There will always be anti-Semites and what we have to do is reassert our Jewishness, commitment to the Jewish people and Jewish life and to make sure that Israel is strong and powerful and defeats Iran.

SAM SERBY is a freelance writer who lives in East Greenwich. He previously worked at the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv.