A couple of weeks ago, I went to Knesseth Israel Synagogue in Gloversville to an informal Hanukkah dinner and met the newly installed Rabbi Rose Durbin.
I found her to be totally approachable, open and warm. This hadn't always been my experience with rabbis. I know when I was growing up in Cleveland, where my family and I attended Park Synagogue with the esteemed Rabbi Armand Cohen, I thought of him as kind but as an elder who was a bit unapproachable.
Herman Googled Rabbi Cohen at Park Synagogue and found a lot of history, including a meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., something I didn't know about.
The thing is, Rabbi Durbin has been friendly enough to make it a point to come to visit me at my home in the Adirondacks and even make comments by email on my columns, such as last week's column on the Golden Globes:
"Hi Kathryn, great article about the Golden Globes. I have to say, against my better judgment, my husband insists on splurging for the premium channels, and "Homeland" is a great show - I recommend getting it on DVD when it comes out! I also was surprised they asked Ricky Gervais to come back to host (the Globes)! I'm with you, I love TV!"
This has a very human quality showing the rabbi is of the people, not "above" the people. I certainly relate to that!
During our visit, I found it very easy to speak with Rabbi Durbin about such mundane things as how she met her husband. She told me that when they first met, he was dating someone else. Interestingly enough, he also is a rabbi who practices in Glens Falls.
My aide, Terry, made some of her delicious corn chowder for us, but I was quick to tell Terry not to add bacon to the rabbi's portion as I thought she kept kosher, and I was right. I am less traditional than that and we kind of laughed about how much I love bacon.
I emailed her later to thank her for her visit and she responded: "I'm so glad we got to visit today! Shabbat shalom."
So, I think this is the beginning of a great relationship. Although we in Fulton County were all sad at the passing of our former Rabbi Martin Gordon, I think the whole congregation agrees that Rabbi Durbin is a breath of fresh air and we look forward to the coming days of worship with her.
Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at www.kathrynskorner.com