Letters | April 21, 2021


Last week’s article “After two years, Shaare Torah finds its new rabbis” drew criticism, largely on Facebook, from members of the Conservative congregation in Gaithersburg. Those who wrote objected to the description of their two years searching for a new rabbi as “a long run of instability.”

Uncertainty is not the same as instability

As a member of Shaare Torah, I was disheartened at the way WJW framed the hiring of Rabbi Annie Lewis and Rabbi Yosef Goldman as our next spiritual leaders (“After two years, Shaare Torah finds its new rabbis,” April 15).

Suggesting there had been a “long run of instability” within our community is simply incorrect. Sure, the past two years have brought uncertainty, but it was our steadfast stability that allowed us to meet those challenges head on and thrive.

Our members are the strength of our community. This was clearly evident these past two years as our rabbi search committee successfully completed its task under pandemic conditions. Our members addressed the challenges associated with not having a full-time rabbi, and, through the pandemic, staff and volunteer leadership designed innovative communal programs for all ages.

I am excited about Rabbis Annie and Yosef joining our community. I wish the WJW had focused its article exclusively on them and been more careful of its depictions of the strength and stability of the congregation.


From Facebook

Beacon of innovation

What a fallacious way to portray an exciting milestone for this vibrant congregation. Shaare Torah is a beacon of innovation and strength within the Conservative movement and in Montgomery County. The departure of its founding rabbi was not due to some weakness, but rather just the opposite: He was chosen to lead the Conservative movement nationwide, which is a testament to the vision and leadership with which he led the congregation. The founding rabbi left large shoes to fill, and the congregation’s leaders are to be commended for taking the time to find the right rabbi(s) to carry on what he started and to take the community to the next level.

Shaare Torah has a rich history of outstanding lay and professional leadership, financial stability and community support, none of which wavered during this transition period. While you may be hard pressed to find a synagogue that hasn’t faced at least some instability during the pandemic, Shaare Torah is thriving and poised for continued success with its new incoming rabbis.


Vibrant, not unstable

Instability is not in any way, shape or form a description of these past few years at Shaare Torah. Vibrant and creative are more apt descriptions. This shul has not missed a step in being there for members and beyond. Shame on WJW!


Ingenuity, not instability

Having served as the religious life vice president over the past year, I can assure you that we have not had a long run of instability. In fact, our lay leadership has shone throughout the pandemic. Together with Rabbi Mark Raphael and our incredible executive director, outreach director, student intern Rabbi Tyler Dratch, executive board and professional staff, we have had an unbelievable year of inclusive and participatory Zoom services with over 500 logins on the High Holidays, weekly, beautiful and interactive services, creative b’nai mitzvah, the most fun Purim that ever came to the internet and countless other meaningful events and services.

We haven’t had instability; rather, we have had ingenuity, creativity and inclusion. We are thrilled for our new rabbis but we owe everything to our current leadership for their extraordinary work throughout the pandemic. Shaare Torah is a thriving community ready to welcome our new rabbis.


Challenging time, not an unstable one

Since I had emphasized [in my interview for the article] the amazing work of professional staff and lay leaders on the journey, it was really upsetting to hear that during this stressful time, we were on a “run of instability.” An amazing, caring community working together during a challenging time.


Opposite of unstable

Thank you so much for covering Shaare Torah and our upcoming arrival to this wonderful community. Rabbi Annie Lewis and I have been amazed by Shaare Torah’s lay and professional leadership at Shaare Torah through a time of transition in rabbinic leadership.
At a time when synagogues around the world have been forced to rethink all aspects of how and why we gather in sacred community, Shaare Torah has navigated adversity with strength, resilience and clear sense of its mission guided by the consistent and exemplary leadership of its board and professional staff, supported by amazing interim rabbinic guidance and an extremely talented rabbinic intern.

Quite the opposite of unstable, it is a community with deep roots, flexibility and vision.


A little jealous?

Every congregation should be blessed with such “instability.”


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