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New rabbi departs Beth Jacob

By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer

Rabbi Martin W. Shorr

Rabbi Martin W. Shorr

After little more than two weeks at Beth Jacob Congregation, Rabbi Martin W. Shorr is no longer an employee of the synagogue. In an Aug. 26 letter to congregants, Beth Jacob President Dr. Herman I. Abromowitz wrote, “we were unable to finalize a contract with Rabbi Shorr and both parties mutually agreed to part ways.”

Shorr began his work at Beth Jacob the week of Aug. 5. By Aug. 22, he was no longer associated with the synagogue; those who inquired at Beth Jacob about his status were told the synagogue and the rabbi weren’t able to come to an agreement on a signed contract.

At the beginning of August, following the board’s recommendation, members of Beth Jacob voted to hire Shorr for a one-year contract. Shorr was raised in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and received his smicha (rabbinic ordination) from an Orthodox rabbi, but has only worked for egalitarian congregations over the 15 years since his ordination. He came to Beth Jacob after seven years as rabbi of Temple Hadar Israel, a merged Conservative and Reform synagogue, in New Castle, Pa.

Beth Jacob is not affiliated with a particular Jewish movement but identifies itself as Traditional in practice, a non-egalitarian movement to the religious left of Orthodoxy but to the right of egalitarian Conservative Judaism.

Although only men lead services at Beth Jacob and count toward a minyan — a quorum for public prayers — there is mixed seating, a practice not permissible in Orthodox congregations.

In his letter to the congregation, Abromowitz added that Cantor Nathaniel Carmen of Borough Park, N.Y. will lead services at the synagogue for the High Holy Days.

Beth Jacob Executive Director Chaya Vidal told The Observer that Carmen will conduct the services according to the congregation’s Traditional custom of mixed seating, with only men leading services.

“I wish to apologize to the congregation for the abruptness of recent events and any inconvenience it may have caused,” Abromowitz wrote in his congregational letter. “However, the officers and board, as in the past, will always act in the best interest of Beth Jacob to ensure a strong future for our synagogue.”

Abromowitz declined to comment for this article.