After six years at The Young Israel of Greater Buffalo, Rabbi Moshe Taub will take over at Poale Zedeck before the High Holidays this year.
“It’s a historic shul, with a fantastic history,” Taub said. “The purpose of a shul is you want it to be a mix of people with different backgrounds. Poale Zedeck is one of the few, and one of the best.”
Poale Zedeck conducted an extensive search for its new rabbi. Joel Pfeffer, a spokesperson for the search committee, said they wanted to make sure they found the perfect fit.
Pfeffer said the search committee looked at 40 resumes, conducted 12 to 13 phone interviews, six in person interviews and brought three of their candidates in for a weekend to interact with the congregation.
“The congregation was very impressed with his (Taub’s) warmth, scholarship and engaging manner,” Pfeffer said. “They were very favorable toward his candidacy.”
Poale Zedeck has a history of keeping rabbis in place for a long time. Taub is a younger rabbi and they hope he will be leading the congregation for many years to come.
“All our candidates were young,” Pfeffer said. “We were looking for a candidate that was young. Historically we have had longevity with our rabbis. We’ve had four rabbis in 88 years. We’d like this to be a long-term
Taub said he didn’t have a specific style for leading a congregation.
“I think it’s somewhat dangerous for a rabbi to have a style,” Taub said. “You have to manipulate your style to fit. You have to direct your attention to each person and it might be different, especially with a synagogue with such a diverse congregation.
“Some are looking for a scholar, some will want a sympathetic ear, some for a challenge,” he continued. “Everyone has his or her own desire as to what a rabbi should be.”
Taub hopes to be able to teach not only at Poale Zedeck, but at Hillel as well. He knows that relationships with the other Jewish organizations in Pittsburgh are important. In Buffalo he studies with a Reform and Conservative rabbi as well.
“I would love to teach at Hillel if that’s available,” he said. “I want to establish a relationship with the United Jewish Federation — I think that’s critical.”
Taub also knows that he will be replacing a very well known and well-respected community scholar.
“He (Rabbi Miller) has left some big shoes to fill,” Taub said. “You can’t imitate anybody but you can learn from them.”
When asked if he would make the switch over from a Sabres fan to a Penguins fan, he said that wouldn’t be the easiest of switches.
“It will be a lot easier to be going from a Bills fan to a Steelers fan.”
(Mike Zoller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)