Heights Jewish Center Synagogue will honor Rabbi Raphael and Deena Davidovich in their bar mitzvah year as leaders of the University Heights congregation Sept. 16 with an honoring dinner.
In addition to honoring the couple’s 13th year of leadership, the event will honor Gershon Ireland, who is both former president and served on the search committee that scouted out the rabbi. With his wife, Mary, and their children, described as consistent supporters of the shul, Ireland will receive the Kesser Shem Tov Award.
Steven Perlin will receive the synagogue’s Young Leadership Award for his role in programming at the synagogue and with his wife, Elana, for contributing to the growth of the community.
Synagogue president Robert Altshuler said the Rabbi Davidovich was initially hired in an interim position with the assumption that his position would be temporary.
“It turned out our congregation fell in love with him,” Altshuler said. “And he has been our rabbi since. He has been offered a lifetime contract.”
He said Davidovich has attracted younger members while retaining older ones to the shul, which now has about 120 full-time and associate family memberships.
“She has been very instrumental in the city in many community-wide efforts including the mikvah, teaching young women who are getting married the proper laws, as far taharas mishpat, family purity,” Altshuler said of Deena Davidovich, adding that she has taken a strong interest in both the building of the community’s mikvah and of the existing mikvah on Green Road. “She’s constantly involved in the community with teaching.”
Ireland’s claim to fame, Altshuler said, was finding Davidovoich.
Perlin, he said, has been active in pursuing grants to help keep the building secure and has spearheaded programming that appeals to young families.
“He’s constantly making sure we have proper police protection as well as doing programming for young families on other topics as well,” Altshuler said.
Heights Jewish Center is next to Purvis Park in University Heights and leases its parking lot to the city.
“The moniker we use is the friendliest synagogue in Cleveland,” Altshuler said. “And I think that really says it all. Everybody is welcome regardless of where they are in observance and we try to make everybody feel personally welcome.”
Looking to the future, Altshuler named two goals.
“To continue to grow; to add more educational classes,” he said. “Those are the two big things.”