PEABODY – When Bernie Horowitz was studying with the Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute for his rabbinical ordination in 2014, there was one instructor he particularly really enjoyed. “He was very knowledgeable about his courses, and had a great personality,” said Horowitz of Rabbi Richard Perlman.
A year or so later, both Horowitz and Perlman were asked to be the full-time rabbi at Temple Ner Tamid in Peabody. First the temple asked Horowitz, a realtor and chairman of the Peabody Board of Health, who had been filling in for a year as interim rabbi, to become full time. Horowitz turned it down, because even though he had been leading services since before his bar mitzvah, he always felt being a full-time pulpit rabbi was a bit too high-profile. When Ner Tamid asked Perlman, at the time rabbi of Temple Am David in Warwick, R.I., Perlman first checked with his student.
“He said, ‘Don’t you want the job?’ I said, ‘No, go for it, we’d be thrilled to have you here,’” Horowitz recalled.
It turns out Ner Tamid was big enough for the two of them. On May 1, Horowitz began his tenure as Ner Tamid’s associate rabbi, a new role that Rabbi Perlman designed to share his increasing workload.
“What a beautiful fit it would be,” said Perlman, noting that both he and Horowitz can sing and lead services. “The advantage is when I’m stretched out, which I kind of am right now … the associate rabbi is there to assist and help out. I can only be in so many places at once.”
Horowitz will take over most of Perlman’s principle duties – leading services, writing Divrei Torah, teaching Hebrew school, and being on-call for congregants – on an as-needed basis.
“They call us the double A-team,” said Perlman. “We have a little bit of difference, but that’s good.
When you take that and offer that together, it offers a nice flavor for the congregation.”
“We harmonize beautifully,” said Horowitz, referring to music and more.
Horowitz grew up in Malden, where his father was a kosher butcher. He always enjoyed services and attended often. By the time he was 11 or 12, he could effortlessly chant every haftarah. Because of his rich singing voice, different congregations asked him to lead services and give bar mitzvah lessons.
Despite his aptitude, Horowitz never wanted to be a full-time rabbi. “To me, that was the man sitting up in the bimah, who I respected, who was respected in the community, really had to keep this high standard … I said, ‘That’s not for me,’” he said.
Horowitz attended Northeastern University, where he studied liberal arts and psychology. He then went into business with his father, who owned Horowitz Kosher Food Center in Malden. After his father died, Horowitz took over the business, and moved it – along with his family – to Peabody in 1982. He sold the business in 1985, and then worked at the Peabody Department of Health until 2005, and has served as chairman of the Peabody Board of Health since 2012. He has been a real estate agent at Re/Max Advantage since 2005.
Horowitz has been an active participant in Peabody’s Jewish community. The family joined Ner Tamid, where his daughters, Cara and Cassie, were bat mitzvahed. Horowitz now feels more than ready to take over all rabbinical duties. For 10 years, he served as the spiritual leader of Congregation Sons of Israel, and led morning prayer services for Ner Tamid during the high holidays. He also served as a private bar mitzvah tutor, and conducted the b’nai and b’not mitzvah of dozens of teens at the Western Wall, with Y2I.
Horowitz feels happy and fulfilled in his new role at a congregation that’s meant so much to him over the years. “I like being able to go there and being able to leave with a sense of satisfaction that I fulfilled my duties as Jewish man, feeling the services, feeling the prayers, and giving the congregants the same feeling.”