1951-1960: New Beginnings
So it was in October of 1951, that Rabbi Raskas of St. Louis and recent spiritual leader of a congregation in Euclid, Ohio, was appointed assistant rabbi of the Temple of Aaron.His record spoke for itself.
As a senior at the Seminary, Rabbi Raskas had been president of his class.He had taken postgraduate work at Western Reserve University.
His religious school at Euclid was regarded as one of the best in the entire Cleveland area.
And at the Temple of Aaron, his energies would be channeled into areas where they were most sorely needed: strengthening and developing the religious school in its various activities, formulating programs for youth groups, participating with Rabbi Cohen in the countless matters that would eventually make a finer and more vigorous Temple of Aaron.
Rabbi Raskas took charge of the New Building Fund Campaign and worked closely with architect Percival Goodman for a unique Jewish architectural masterpiece, "a contemporary Torah Crown set in the earth.
Rabbi Raskas brought a new focus on the place of the Temple of Aaron in the context of the Twin Cities and the world.
All during the decade, he wrote about important topics, from the Supreme Court's decision outlawing segregation to the open occupancy code, to speaking out in 1959 about pollution, atomic fallout and the need for youth to learn foreign languages.
He taught Jewish education classes, including "Judaism and Psychiatry," paved the way for women to have the opportunity to vote for the Temple Board for the first time in 1957, and was president of the Minnesota Rabbinical Association in 1958.With the help of lay leaders, Rabbi Raskas brought in outstanding talent and intellect for the congregation and the community, including Jan Peerce in 1957 and the Jewish theologian of our generation, Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel.
In the November 28, 1960 Temple Bulletin, Rabbi Raskas wrote, "As I look forward to the celebration of Founders' Day, I am deeply stirred and moved when I contemplate what our founders have done for us.
Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest » News
What made these the choice for this Pick of the Archives was their subject, Rabbi Bernard Raskas, whose long and productive life ended in June, 2010.
Rabbi Raskas was the spiritual leader of Temple of Aaron, where he was served as chief Rabbi from 1951 to 1989, and Rabbi Emeritus from 1989 to 2000.Because he was a leader and spokesman for our community in so many ways, his biography, his writings and his leadership are well documented in our collection, where his inspiration and his wisdom are accessible to anyone who comes to look for himself.Bernard Raskas was born in St Louis in 1924.His Orthodox family, who owned a dairy, was close-knit and valued Jewish scholarship.
As a young student. he was considered a rising star., He wooed and won Laeh Halpern, the daughter of a prominent conservative St Louis Rabbi.
Raskas was educated at Washington University and the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.In 1952 shortly after he came as a new Rabbi to Temple of Aaron, the building was destroyed by a fire.Rabbi Raskas was instrumental in the building of the present Temple of Aaron on East River Road.He and Laeh were actively involved in the artistic decorations of the buiding, the banners and decorations that adorn the sanctuary and social hall.
His gentle, humorous and persuasive manner was known in the wider community as well as the synagogue.
He served as Jewish chaplain and faculty member at Macalester, where he was beloved by students and staff alike.He was active in St Paul civic affairs, was a supporter of the civil rights movement and a champion of women's rights, especially within the Conservative movement.
Rabbi Raskas and Laeh were passionate Zionists, and maintained a home in Israel, Both have been buried in Jerusalem.
There is also a tribute book dating from 1989, as Rabbi Raskas began his formal retirement from Temple of Aaron after 38 years of service.
Among the conventional messages of praise from civic leaders, there are interesting details of his years at Temple of Aaron.
His services were innovative and creative, and as a writer, scholar and community leader he achieved nationwide recognition.
Bernard Raskas, rabbi laureate of St. Paul's Temple of Aaron, will be honored today by the city he has called home for the last 55 years.In recognition of his long service to the community, the St. Paul City Council will name the stretch of Hartford Avenue between Mount Curve and Mississippi River boulevards Raskas Road.
"I'm overwhelmed," said Raskas, 82, reminiscing about the time congregants had to walk on mud to come to the synagogue in the mid-1950s.A St. Louis native, he moved here with his wife, Laeh, and their first child in 1951 to become an assistant rabbi at the temple, where he served until 1989.Raskas, who was ordained in 1949 at New York's Jewish Theological Seminary, was among the first religious leaders in St. Paul to understand the need for a multifaith dialogue, said Ken Agranoff, executive director of the Temple of Aaron.
In the late '60s, Raskas taught Hebrew to nuns at the College of St. Catherine and, during the '80s and '90s, helped build up the Jewish studies department at Macalester College.Raskas was Macalester's first Jewish associate chaplain.In 2003, Raskas put together the exhibit "A Precious Legacy: The Ten Commandments in Ten Versions," which is now on permanent display at the school's DeWitt Wallace Library.He was a member of President Carter's Commission on the Holocaust, which helped create the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.Raskas cites St. Paul as a welcoming place that reached out to the Jewish people who first came to the city about 100 years ago.Since that time, he said, social prejudices have disappeared and multifaith relationships have become stronger.
Several Macalester students and religious studies Professor Rabbi Bernard Raskas were featured in this St. Paul Pioneer Press story on the meaning of the this year's Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.Read the article.
Macalester College religious studies Professor Rabbi Bernard Raskas quoted in Star Tribune story on Rosh Hashanah.Read this article.President McPherson was quoted in an August Business Week article on access to higher education.Read the article.
Thank You for Downloading!
1. Download ZoomInfo Grow
2. Run Installation Wizard
3. Check your inbox to Sign in to ZoomInfo Grow