APRIL 26, 2018 – BEVERLY – On March 24, Rabbi Alison Adler of Temple B’nai Abraham in Beverly led a group of congregants to Lynch Park to participate in the March for Our Lives rally, organized in the wake of the recent school shootings in Parkland, Fla.
The rally was held on a Saturday, just after morning Shabbat services, generally not a day for a rabbi to attend an event such as this. But that didn’t stop Rabbi Adler, who is known for “praying with her feet.”
That phrase is attributed to the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who has had a profound and lasting influence on Rabbi Adler. When Rabbi Heschel returned from marching for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala., he was asked when he had time to pray. Rabbi Heschel responded, “I prayed with my feet.”
This spring marks the 10th anniversary of Rabbi Adler’s ordination from the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College as a member of its first class of graduating rabbis.
In recognition of this milestone, Temple B’nai Abraham has scheduled its annual Sons of Jacob Enrichment Lecture at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 29, featuring incoming Hebrew College President Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld. Formerly dean of the rabbinical school, Rabbi Anisfeld will speak on “Counting Our Days: Reflections on the Journey from Here to There.”
A portion of the morning’s program will celebrate Rabbi Adler’s personal journey, which led her to the Beverly temple seven years ago.
Hebrew College, founded in 1921 as Hebrew Teachers College, is located in Newton and continues as a center of Jewish learning and leadership. In 2014 Rabbi Art Green, another of Adler’s mentors, founded the rabbinical school as a pluralistic, trans-denominational institution. Other rabbinical school graduates on the North Shore include Rabbi Steven Lewis of Temple Ahavat Achim in Gloucester and Rabbi David Cohen Henriquez at Temple Sinai in Marblehead.
Rabbi Adler grew up in Highland Park, Ill. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Kenyon College and her master’s in counseling at Northwestern. She resides in Beverly with her husband, Chuck Hirschberg, and their 7-year-old son, Leo.
She currently is president of the North Shore Rabbis and Cantors Association and is an active member of the Beverly Multi-Faith Coalition and the Essex County Community Organization. Rabbi Adler was appointed by Mayor Michael Cahill to the Beverly Human Rights Committee.
Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo was so impressed with Rabbi Adler during a visit to Temple B’nai Abraham a couple of years ago, he invited her to deliver a benediction at the inauguration of the General Court at the Massachusetts State House.
Perhaps the one person who works most closely with Rabbi Adler is Deborah Schutzman, executive director and religious school director at the temple. “Rabbi Adler embodies everything you want in your spiritual leader; she is warm and compassionate, thoughtful and understanding,” said Shutzman. “She leads by example, always looking to help where needed and not afraid to step up when she sees injustice happening. I am proud to have her as my rabbi and inspired to work alongside her every day.”
Said Ken Hartman, temple president, “She has spread her passions for social action, inclusion, building relationships, and spirituality throughout Temple B’nai Abraham. Our membership has become actively involved in a number of causes both inside the temple and throughout the larger community.
Paul Weinberg, a longtime member, gabbai, and minyan-aire, said “In more than 50 adult years as a member of Temple B’nai Abraham, I can remember no votes at congregational meetings involving personnel or ritual matters that have ever been unanimous – with one exception, that being the last renewal of her contract. She is that good a fit. She shines as a pastoral leader, is a calming guide and wise counselor, and is always there when needed.
“Rabbi Adler should teach juggling; I am in awe at the way she keeps so many tasks and responsibilities up in the air and moving at the same time. I love her deeply. She understands what motivates me and is a master of bringing me along the road of change.”