to Israel later this summer. Zimand was unavailable for comment, as he was in Israel for his grandson’s bar mitzvah.
Gordon said he and his wife Marian are looking forward to getting to St. Louis and beginning their work here.
“We are eager to join the community and be part of the congregation out there,” Gordon said. “We’ve met some very warm, friendly, Jewishly minded people already.”
Traditional’s President Jerry Chervitz said there is a lot of excitement within the congregation about Gordon’s arrival.
He said the Rabbi has new ideas and a fresh perspective about how to run the congregation.
“Absolutely we are dramatically looking forward to [Gordon’s] arrival and the fresh ideas he brings with him,” Chervitz said. “He has pretty dramatic ideas about what he’d like to accomplish. He’s bringing a lot of energy.”
Gordon said he would like to begin work in August, but it could be sooner than that, depending on how quickly he and his wife can sell their house on Long Island.
Gordon, who graduated from Rutgers University, said there are specific things he would like to accomplish with his new congregation, including improving interpersonal relationships and education.
“I certainly would like to build a stronger congregation in regards with their relationships with each other,” he said. “I’d also like to increase their knowledge of Torah.”
This will be Gordon’s third post as rabbi, having led congregations in Long Island and before that, Annapolis, Md. He said St. Louis’ Traditional Congregation is about the same size as his previous ones, easing his transition.
“It’s a very comfortable fit,” Gordon said.
One major difference he already has noticed is the size of the Jewish populations, especially when comparing New York City and St. Louis.
“The Jewish community is much smaller than where I’ve been before,” Gordon said. “On all of Long Island, there are around 100 congregations. In St. Louis, I believe there are around 23 total.”
Additionally, Gordon said there is a difference in the denominations. He said St. Louis has many more Reform Jews percentage-wise than Long Island. This will not stop his efforts, however, to increase education and community involvement, he said.
Specifically, he said he wishes to continue Rabbi Zimand’s efforts in interfaith outreach and involvement.
“I think wherever there is common ground, we can work with other faiths,” Gordon said. “And disagreements shouldn’t keep us from working together.”
While Gordon, who has five children, said he has no immediate plans for the youth programs at Traditional Congregation, education for the Jewish youth is very important to him.
“Whatever we can do to strengthen education for our Jewish youth, I’d be all for it,” said Gordon, who has taught at a Jewish Day school.
For Chervitz, he said he is tempering his excitement at Gordon’s arrival with a sense of loss over the departure of Rabbi Zimand and his wife, Esther, when they move to Israel this summer.
“[Rabbi Zimand] has been an asset to not just our congregation, but the St. Louis community as a whole, ” Chervitz said. “It’s dramatically bittersweet. Rabbit Zimand has been with us for more than 25 years. “
Gordon said he appreciates Zimand’s years of service and is not looking to replace him, but to creating his own legacy. Part of that, he said, is embracing what the city of St. Louis has to offer, including its baseball team.
“I’m a big [New York] Yankees fan, ” Gordon said. “But since the Yankees are an American League team, I think I can handle being a Cardinals fan. “
Traditional Congregation will hold a farewell dinner for Rabbi and Esther Zimand the evening of Sunday, June 10, which is open to the entire Jewish community.