We are brand new members as of September 2016. We were not members anywhere before. We’ve been in Pittsburgh for 7 years. My father passed 2 and a half years ago in France, where I am from originally, and about a year and half after his passing, I had a lot of questions. Alan and I are interfaith—I am Jewish but I did not grow up in a very religious environment at all never went to religious school—so I had questions.
Our kids went to Temple preschool. I don’t know what drew me to Rabbi Alex initially except that we knew some families at Temple preschool who are Beth El members. Even though I didn’t know him at all, I picked up the phone and I said, “I would like to talk with the rabbi. I am not a member. He doesn’t know me. I have questions to ask him.” And he did. I came here and met with him two times. We spent about an hour together each time. I wanted to see his take on what Judaism says about death and what happens, and he took the time. I told him I’m not ready to become a member, I just have these questions. And he was ok with that. He said, “I hope that after spending all this time together you become a member, but I understand if you don’t.” He was funny about it in that way he has.
For us, the rabbis are the biggest draw. Rabbi Alex was my introduction to Beth El. And then came Rabbi Amy for religious school, but I think that the reason is the two of them. They really truly are something special. And as an interfaith family we feel good here.