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A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Rabbi Alper elevated to senior role alongside wife, Rabbi Feder at Temple Israel

Rabbi+Michael+Alper
Rabbi Michael Alper

Congregation Temple Israel’s Rabbi Michael Alper has been promoted to senior rabbi alongside his wife, Rabbi Amy Feder.

Feder has served as the synagogue’s senior rabbi since 2010 with support from Alper. A statement released by TI said, “Over the past 13 years, their style of leadership and vision for our TI community has grown our membership, and in effect, grown the needs and level of engagement within our community, too. To best serve our members, we have long believed that having both Rabbi Amy and Rabbi Michael at Temple Israel’s helm would significantly enhance our future and the lives of those who attend our synagogue.”

TI Board President Louise Losos underscored that statement adding: “The rabbis, Amy and Michael, have been our TI rabbis for 12 to 13 years, just two of them. We reached a point where there was a mutual desire to make a long-term commitment. They are our rabbinical family, and we want them to be our rabbinical family.”

Losos added that TI’s Board of Trustees had authorized its executive committee to look into negotiating long-term contracts with both of them, for up to 20 years.

Rabbi Michael Alper

Alper said he was delighted by the promotion, especially knowing the congregation had embraced it.

“It elevates what we are doing and have been doing for some time to a new level while also saying this is what we’d like for the future, which is very exciting,” he said. “It makes me feel wonderful to have these years acknowledged and also know there is a congregation here looking forward for many years to come. It’s a pretty wonderful thing for a rabbi.”

In order to promote Alper, the board voted in September to amend TI’s by-laws to permit having more than one senior rabbi on staff at a time. Members then nominated Alper to serve as an equal counterpart to Feder.

“With great enthusiasm, we notified all TI members of the important by-law changes along with an invitation to a community-wide vote on Friday, Nov. 17 at Shabbat services,” according to the statement. “Per our by-laws, we needed a minimum of 50 member families present to ratify Rabbi Michael’s promotion. That night was one of the most well-attended Shabbat services in memory with seats full and only standing room left in the sanctuary as our members unanimously voted to ratify his promotion.”

Alper, a native of California, graduated from Boston University with a degree in history. He moved to Israel to begin Hebrew Union College in 2001 and has been traveling to Israel as often as possible ever since.

Following ordination, he moved with Feder to St. Louis to begin working as the education director at Central Reform Congregation. Two years later, he moved to Temple Israel, where he and Feder, who married in 2005, have been working alongside each other ever since. His greatest passion is teaching; he’s been lauded as having a creative approach to encourage students of all ages to access Judaism in new ways.

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About the Contributor
ELLEN FUTTERMAN, Editor-in-Chief
A native of Westbury, New York, Ellen Futterman broke into the world of big city journalism as a general assignment reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in the latter part of the 20th century. Deciding that Tinsel Town was not exciting enough for her, she moved on to that hub of glamour and sophistication, Belleville, Ill., where she became a feature writer, columnist and food editor for the Belleville News-Democrat. A year later the St. Louis Post-Dispatch scooped her up, neither guessing at the full range of her talents, nor the extent of her shoe collection. She went on to work at the Post-Dispatch for 25 years, during which time she covered hard news, education, features, investigative projects, profiles, sports, entertainment, fashion, interiors, business, travel and movies. She won numerous major local and national awards for her reporting on "Women Who Kill" and on a four-part series about teen-age pregnancy, 'Children Having Children.'" Among her many jobs at the newspaper, Ellen was a columnist for three years, Arts and Entertainment Editor, Critic-at-large and Daily Features (Everyday) Editor. She invented two sections from scratch, one of which recently morphed from Get Out, begun in 1995, to GO. In January of 2009, Ellen joined the St. Louis Jewish Light as its editor, where she is responsible for overseeing editorial operations, including managing both staff members and freelancers. Under her tutelage, the Light has won 16 Rockower Awards — considered the Jewish Pulitzer’s — including two personally for Excellence in Commentary for her weekly News & Schmooze column. She also is the communications content editor for the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis. Ellen and her husband, Jeff Burkett, a middle school principal, live in Olivette and have three children. Ellen can be reached at 314-743-3669 or at [email protected].