When Gerald Siegel’s adult daughter died unexpectedly after undergoing surgery, his family turned to their rabbi for comfort and guidance.
Rabbi Harold Kravitz, who leads Adath Jeshurun congregation of Minnetonka, helped the family work through its grief by creating an artistic competition for Jewish youth named in her honor.
In honor of his spiritual leadership, Kravitz was recently named one of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis by the prominent Jewish newspaper the Jewish Daily Forward. Of the 36 rabbis who made the list, Kravitz is the only one leading a Minnesota-based congregation.
“It’s really lovely to be acknowledged,” said Kravitz, 55. “Everybody on that list is doing great work.”
Siegel nominated Kravitz for the honor and wrote this in his support:
“When our daughter, Karen, died 12 years ago, Rabbi Kravitz helped us find a meaningful way to honor her memory — by establishing the Keren Or Creative Arts Forum to encourage artistic activities of Jewish youth in Minnesota. He has been a source of great comfort to us in our time of loss.”
Kravitz started as an assistant rabbi in 1987 and has served as senior rabbi at Adath Jeshurun since 1996. In that time, the congregation has grown to some 1,300 households.
The Conservative congregation is active in trying to help people in poverty. Kravitz has taken a leading role in that effort, serving as the board chairman for Mazon, a national Jewish advocacy group that aims to eradicate hunger.
“Being asked to play that national role ... I think that’s something very important to me,” Kravitz said.
“We live in a time of great individualism and a sense that people can find community on the Internet. And I think those have a value, but they don’t replace face-to-face communities made up in congregations like ours.”
“This congregation is a wonderful, vibrant community. ... I’m planning to stick around, as long as I have the strength.”