Maine Rabbi's Injury Forges Remarkable Partnership Between 2 Branches of Faith

Inspirational Orthodox Rabbi Allows Woman To Lead Prayers

Remarkable Bond: Rabbi Akiva Herzfeld opened the doors of his Orthodox shul to Rabbi Alice Goldfinger, despite traditional reservations about women leading prayers.
abigail jones
Remarkable Bond: Rabbi Akiva Herzfeld opened the doors of his Orthodox shul to Rabbi Alice Goldfinger, despite traditional reservations about women leading prayers.

By Abigail Jones

Published April 15, 2013, issue of April 19, 2013.
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She took a deep breath, wiping her tears.

“I wanted to show up, too,” she whispered. “And I loved it.”

Goldfinger will likely never recover from her brain injury; as she wrote in an email before this story went to print: “I am going to forget about the article. If you know when it will run, I will put it in my calendar to look for it.” Still, she has made progress. She now accomplishes two activities a day, writes on her blog and plays tennis weekly (her instructor is teaching her to hit with her nondominant hand to exercise her brain). This May, she will take a major step: teaching a one-hour class at Bet Ha’am.

“There are parts of myself that died the day I fell on the ice,” she said. “Perhaps something new can grow in its place. In that place.”

Whatever happens, Goldfinger has Herzfeld supporting her — not on the sidelines, but out front and center. What he did for her is beyond forgetting, even for Goldfinger.

“We’ve built a lot of bridges together without intending to build,” she said. “Just Rabbi Herzfeld being himself, he leaves bridges in his wake.”

Contact Abigail Jones at jones@forward.com or on Twitter, @abigaildj


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