2017-07-05 / Home

Rabbi Lewis Eron reflects on his 24 years at Senior Housing

By DAVID PORTNOE Voice Editor


Rabbi Lewis Eron receiving an award from Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare CEO Susan Love at the recent JSHHS Annual Meeting. Eron retired in June after 24 years as director of religious services at Lions Gate and community chaplain. Rabbi Lewis Eron receiving an award from Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare CEO Susan Love at the recent JSHHS Annual Meeting. Eron retired in June after 24 years as director of religious services at Lions Gate and community chaplain. In his 24 years as the director of religious services at Lions Gate and as the Jewish community chaplain, Rabbi Lewis Eron has impacted the lives of thousands of people throughout Southern New Jersey. He has counseled seniors and their families, often during difficult periods in their lives. He has created educational programs and led Shabbat and holiday services for residents at Lions Gate, Saltzman House, Dubin House, and Gesher House, all part Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service (JSHHS), an agency of the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. He has visited the sick in hospitals, helped the addicted and the poor.

Now, after 24 years, Eron has stepped into retirement. His successor is Rabbi Rayna Grossman, his rabbinic intern for the past two years and a 2017 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC), the same institution that ordained Eron in 1981.

“You were never too busy to listen to everyone,” said Susan Love, Lions Gate CEO, in paying tribute to Eron at the recent JSHHS Annual Meeting. She said that he had provided spiritual guidance to so many and created a “culture of Yiddishkeit” at Jewish Senior Housing.

At the JSHHS Annual Meeting, Eron said that it had been an honor and pleasure working with the staff and residents. “Perhaps the most important thing we can do for another person is to be with them and give them our time. Everyone is created in God’s image,” he said. Eron added that it is not hard being a rabbi. “The best teachers of Torah are the people around us.”

Eron, who was also feted by Lions Gate’s residents and staff, said in an interview with the Voice that even though he is retiring, he will still be living in Cherry Hill and will be an active volunteer with the Federation and its agencies. He said that he chose this time to retire primarily because his wife, Gail Trachtenberg, had retired a couple of years ago and he wanted to spend more time doing academic writing on theology and Biblical studies. He has a Ph.D. in Religion and Biblical Studies from Temple University.

“I’m really thankful for the opportunity I had to get to know many people, their families, and to enter into their lives,” said Eron. He said that he has met people from the most powerful to the powerless. He also had an opportunity to be involved in inter-religious dialogue locally, nationally, and internationally.

“I’m proud that I helped build a strong community at Lions Gate of people who care for each other,” said Eron. He said that he is glad that he could be part of the growth of the agency and its ability to provide a broader range of services.

During his tenure as community chaplain, Eron also coordinated the Torah portion and holiday columns for the Voice on behalf of the Tricounty Board of Rabbis. In the beginning, he wrote all the columns himself.

“I really felt I had the largest congregation of any rabbi,” said Eron. He said that sometimes he felt he was the rabbi for the 55,000 Jews in the tri-county area.

“How grateful I am to have been part of this community since the early 1980s, and to have been able to have played a significant role in so many people’s lives,” said Eron, who, prior to becoming community chaplain following the death of Rabbi Melvin Glatt, was the rabbi at Temple Har Zion in Mt. Holly and B’nai Abraham in Livingston, NJ. “I’m also glad to have been able to work with the leaders of Federation and its agencies, both lay and professional.” 

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