Rabbi Seth D Gordon
Shalom. Welcome to Traditional Congregation! My family and I arrived here in the summer of 2007 from New York and found that Traditional Congregation exceeded our expectations. Traditional Congregation is unlike any other in the St Louis area (and elsewhere) and I sincerely invite you to visit us so that you can see for yourself; and of course, I hope you will speak with me personally.
I have been a pulpit rabbi for 35 years – 15 in Bethpage, Long Island (New York) and before then for five years in Annapolis, Maryland; and now 15 in St. Louis. My wife, Marian, and I were both raised in New Jersey and are graduates of Rutgers University. I earned my first rabbinical degree in 1987 and my studies included several years in New York and Jerusalem.
In 1998 I earned a second s’michah (rabbinic ordination) from Rav David Weiss Halivni and the ITJ--Institute of Traditional Judaism. (The ITJ is the academic institution of the UTJ--Union of Traditional Judaism.) Our motto, an excellent expression of who we are and what we stand for, is “genuine faith with intellectual integrity.” We are faithful to God, Torah teachings, and the authority of halachah (Jewish law), and yet we engage with modern scholarship to better understand the requirements, meaning, and latitudes and limits of our religious tradition.
No single institution or movement has any ultimate claim upon me and my teaching; I am proud to have learned from Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis, teachers and educators. However, I live and teach what might be best expressed as modern orthodoxy (small “o”). To better explain my orientation, for his firm but limited approach to halachah, for his intellectual openness, and for his unwavering commitment to God and the Jewish people and to others (he was a highly-regarded physician), my most significant religious model is RaMBaM (Maimonides).
I have served in mechitzah (separate seating) and mixed-seating congregations; Traditional has both mechitzah and mixed-seating sections. My five adult children attended modern orthodox day schools. I teach extensively at Traditional and throughout the community, I serve on several committees, and I was the treasurer for the SLRA (St Louis Rabbinic Association) for four years.
I have been on the Executive Board of the UTJ and ITJ, and have served on medical ethics committees. Finally, I have worked with communities to promote cooperation among Jews and non-Jews – founding the Aleph-Bet Jewish Day School in Annapolis in 1989 (Orthodox-Conservative-Reform) and the African-American Jewish Coalition of Anne Arundel County (Annapolis 1988), guiding the Long Island Institute of Adult Jewish Studies, and working to bring rabbis of different outlooks to cooperate together in Annapolis and Long Island.
Now in our 15th year in the Midwest, we are still excited by our congregation and by the opportunities that God has given us here. I hope you will visit us and will become involved religiously and communally. Our congregation, including my wife Marian and I, pledge that we will help you and your family fulfill to the best of your ability the role that God has for you. You will undoubtedly find Traditional Congregation a unique, warm, welcoming, and purposeful congregation dedicated to the ideals and teachings of Torah. We look forward to meeting you.