Rabbi Stanley Savage retires from ‘Downtown Shul’
"Rabbi Savage has led our congregation for Shabbat and High Holiday services, weekday minyanim, life cycle events and more,” he said.
Beth Hamedrash Hagodol-Beth Jacob Congregation, “The Downtown Shul,” announced the retirement of longtime Rabbi Stanley Savage.
Savage, hired by the shul in 1986, retired at the end of October, according to congregation officer Stephen Neustein.
“During his long tenure, Rabbi Savage has led our congregation for Shabbat and High Holiday services, weekday minyanim, life cycle events and more,” he said.
Savage, Neustein said, welcomed every visitor warmly and made everyone feel like the Downtown Shul was their home.
Located on Fifth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh, the shul is operating without a rabbi. Minyan is being led by different people, Neustein said, adding that those observing a hiyyuv, or religious obligation — someone saying kaddish, for example — often lead the prayers.
Congregation President Ira Frank said that the shul is only holding weekday minyan on Sundays, as downtown Pittsburgh continues its recovery from COVID-19. Before the pandemic, the synagogue provided a convenient place for Jews working downtown to attend a daily minyan.
“We’re waiting until town opens back up and reinvigorates,” Frank said. “Right now, we have a minyan on Sunday. The rest of the time, we don’t have a core group that’s downtown.”
Savage, now rabbi emeritus, has been a central part of the congregation since Frank became involved, he said.
“He was there for generations of people to pass through,” Frank added, noting that the rabbi assisted people observing various life cycle events.
Beth Hamedrash Hagodol-Beth Jacob Congregation is the oldest Orthodox congregation in western Pennsylvania. “It was founded around 1870 by members of Tree of Life Congregation who split following disputes over what they saw as liberalizing religious practices,” according to the Rauh Jewish Archives.
Neustein offered no comment about the congregation’s plans to hire a new rabbi. PJC
David Rullo can be reached at [email protected]