Temple Emanuel selects new rabbi
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South HillsErie native, Rabbi Aaron Meyer, takes pulpit here July 1

Temple Emanuel selects new rabbi

After interviewing two dozen candidates, Meyer, associate rabbi of large Seattle congregation, was first choice of committee.

Rabbi Aaron Meyer. Photo provided by Temple Emanuel of South Hills
Rabbi Aaron Meyer. Photo provided by Temple Emanuel of South Hills

Temple Emanuel of South Hills has hired Rabbi Aaron Meyer, an Erie native, as its next senior rabbi. Meyer, who was approved by congregational vote on Jan. 27, will begin his tenure at the Reform congregation on July 1.

Meyer, who served as an associate rabbi at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle for more than seven years, will succeed Rabbi Mark Joel Mahler, who retired in 2018 after 38 years as the senior spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel. Rabbi Donald Rossoff has been serving as interim rabbi during the transitional period.

“We are super excited,” said David Weisberg, president of Temple Emanuel, pointing to Meyer’s experience in connecting with a wide demographic of congregants while serving at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, a 1,700-family congregation operating on two separate campuses.

“Rabbi Meyer has been acting as a senior rabbi in many respects,” Weisberg said, noting that Meyer had been leading services on his own at Temple De Hirsch’s suburban campus. “He has been able to engage congregants across a broad range of demographics and age groups, from preschoolers to senior citizens.”

Weisberg also pointed to Meyer’s inclusivity work among interfaith families, interfaith communities and the LGBTQ community as positive attributes that will enrich Temple Emanuel.

Last spring, the congregation surveyed its membership and conducted focus groups to determine Temple Emanuel’s direction and, in turn, the characteristics of rabbinic leadership it should seek.

“We wanted to build on our strength and make sure we keep doing what we do really well,” Weisberg said. “We want to continue to make Temple Emanuel an inclusive, welcoming home for all.”

Meyer was selected from 24 applicants for the position, Weisberg said. After the congregation’s search committee conducted video interviews, three rabbis were brought to the 500-member unit Mt. Lebanon synagogue to meet congregants in person.

“Rabbi Meyer rose to our number one choice, and received overwhelming board approval at the end of December,” Weisberg said.

Meyer earned a degree in science from The Ohio State University, and received his rabbinic ordination and earned a Master of Arts in Hebrew letters/literature from Hebrew Union College in Ohio. He also holds a certificate in gerontology from the University of Washington.

He is married to Rabbi Emily Meyer, and they have two children, Evelyn, 3, and Eli, 2 months. There are “no immediate plans” for Emily Meyer to take a formal role in spiritual leadership at the congregation, according to Weisberg.

“The strength of the Jewish life in the South Hills is eminently clear, demonstrated by Temple’s thoughtful and committed lay leadership, inspiring staff and rabbinic team, and the warmth of the many congregants I have had the pleasure of meeting,” Meyer said in a prepared statement. “Emily, Evelyn, Eli and I are so excited about this opportunity to make our home in Steelers Country, building upon Rabbi Mahler’s impressive legacy and helping Temple Emanuel remain the central address for inclusive, meaningful Jewish community.” PJC

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at
ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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