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There are many reason we now love being members of Sherith Israel. The story with our family falling in love with Sherith came on day one.
When we moved to Nashville in July of 2011, we did not know a soul in town. We moved so Micah could take a new position with a new company. We had a two and half year old and a two month old. Before stepping foot on Nashville soil, I received a call from Daniella Pressner, who told me all about the city, the Jewish community and where I should look for preschool for my kids. It was a wonderful introduction to the warmth and friendship we would receive the moment we got into town.
Our first day in town, we dropped our bags at our apartment and went straight over to Rabbi Saul's and Daniella's home for a bar-b-que. It was the first of many meals we have shared over our four and half years here. What I remember the most about that day was the feeling of acceptance and friendship we had right away. Those feelings only grew as we participated in our first Shabbat that next Saturday morning at Sherith Israel. We walked into shul and our children immediately were taken into the hands of the congregation. Immediately, everyone we met became family and we left that afternoon with many many new "Nashville" based grandparents for our children to love and who love our children.
Within weeks, we knew our move to Nashville was the best decision we ever made.
I’m from Chicago and Diana is from St Louis. We have lived in six different cities and been active in every Synagogue we have belonged to, including being on the Board of Directors of every Synagogue.
It was not until coming to Sherith Israel that we found what Community is. Of course we had close friends in all the other Synagogues, but the other Congregants were just that, Congregants, mostly seen on the High Holidays. We were both raised and always belonged in the Conservative movement. We found Sherith Israel to be a place where Reform, Conservative and Orthodox all feel welcome and pray together.
Perhaps that’s what makes it a Community. Perhaps its our outstanding clergy, Rabbis Saul Strosberg and Aaron Finkelstein and Cantor George Lieberman. Perhaps its that 150 people gather every Shabbat to pray, schmooze and enjoy a sit-down Kiddish luncheon.
We are now retired with no family in Nashville and could live anywhere we wanted to. We choose to live in Nashville and belong to Sherith Israel.
We moved to Nashville in the summer of 2013 from Oakland, CA. In addition to Oakland, we have lived in Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Brooklyn, Minsk, and Kharkov. Of all these places, Nashville is definitely our favorite.
We have been to many Jewish communities, and many shuls, and we really love Nashville’s community, and Sherith Israel.
Sherith is warm, welcoming. It is serious about traditional Judaism, but without being overbearing about it, so that a remarkably wide range of folks feel very comfortable being at Sherith regularly, from Lubavitch Hassidim to modern Orthodox, to the many who are just curious about Judaism and wish to find out more. Our family is very traditional, but we love interacting with everyone who comes: it’s just wonderful to be meeting people from all walks of life, with such an amazing range of professions and interests!
Our kids really love the shul as well. Actually, the number of kids at the shul has really grown even since we’ve been here: just a little while ago, I counted more than 10 kids just hanging out at Mincha/Seudat Shlishit (in most other shuls I’ve been to, that’s not an event that attracts many children…)
Our grandparents were charter members of the Shul. Our grandmother, Wilma Kirshner, was instrumental in founding the Hungarian Burial Society, which evolved into forming the Shul and is now the Sherith Israel Cemetery.
In 1905, our grandfather, Abraham Kirshner, was the person who went to the State of Tennessee to obtain the charter for Congregation Sherith Israel. Our great-grandmother, Chana Brown, became a member of the Congregation when she moved to Nashville. Our parents, Dave and Bertha Gordon, were also long-time active members.
We too have been active members: Anne served as President of the Sisterhood and we have both been officers of the Shul. And our husbands, Henry Foyer and Bernard Schreiber (z''l) were both presidents of the Shul. Our grandchildren are now the sixth generation of our family to be part of the Shul.
We hope that many generations to follow will continue our family's tradition of leadership in Sherith Israel.