Meet 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 whatever expectations we had. Traditional Congregation is unlike any other in the St Louis area (and elsewhere) and I 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 34 years – five years in Annapolis, Maryland;15 in Bethpage, Long Island (New York); and now 14 years in St. Louis . My wife, Marian, and I, raised in New Jersey, 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 and modern society 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, my most significant religious model is RaMBaM (Maimonides), 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 also a highly-regarded physician). 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 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 both Annapolis and Long Island.
Now in our 14th 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 (who serves as Traditional's Executive Director) 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 find Traditional Congregation to be a unique, warm, welcoming, and purposeful congregation. We look forward to meeting you.
Rabbi Seth D. Gordon