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AROUND TOWN: Rabbi Howard Hirsch honored as he retires
He was described in a 2005 Gazette article as “Colorado Springs’ spiritual Oprah.”
Rabbi Howard Abel Hirsch, founding president of The Center for Christian-Jewish Dialogue and Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Shalom, relinquished his talk-show title this year after a Jan. 25 retirement celebration and final Temple Shalom Shabbat service.
Hirsch and his wife, Eva, are moving to Cleveland where for the first time they will be full-time grandparents. “For 41 years Eva has followed me wherever I wanted to go,” Hirsch said. “Now I will follow her where she wants to go.” The Hirsches will live only minutes — and in some cases, just a few houses — away from their children and grandchildren.
In 1995 Hirsch, community and religious leaders “tried to figure how we could all get along,” said Bishop Emeritus Richard Hanifen. The mayor, the Rev. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Pastor Paul Peel, Hirsch and Hanifen were just a few of those involved. “The Howard and Dick (Hirsch and Hanifen) Show went on the road,” the bishop said.
The Center for Christian-Jewish Dialogue was born and according to its mission “encourages meaningful dialogue, promotes understanding and fosters mutual respect for each other’s faith, culture and history.” An annual dialogue dinner attracted hundreds from all denominations.
Peel, Hanifen and Temple Shalom’s Rabbi Mel Glazer shared those memories during the retirement celebration capped with a dessert reception.
Over the past few years, Hirsch had said he wanted CCJD to have a more community-wide focus rather than being so Hirsch focused. Through Hirsch’s leadership, “this community has been served in a way that even it doesn’t understand,” said Hanifen.
The accolades included those from Paulette Greenberg, who had been president of Temple Shalom when Hirsch, her “wizard of words,” was hired in 1989. It was all a bit much for the quiet Hirsch, who teased, “it’s not often you can go to your own funeral and enjoy it. It’s about all the work we have done over 18 years.”
For Greenberg it was best said with the Yiddish word bashert. "It was meant to be.”