Rabbi Dr. Isaac Nathan Lerer

Rabbi Dr. Isaac Nathan Lerer, the senior rabbi of Temple Menorah since 1964, died Monday, March 2, 2009 after suffering a stroke on Feb. 20. He was 78.

Rabbi Lerer was born on Aug. 4, 1930 in Jerusalem. He attended the Etz-Hayim Comprehensive School in Jerusalem and later received his "Semicha" rabbinical ordination from the Yeshivah Torah Chaim in Jerusalem. He attended both the Hebrew Theological College and Roosevelt College in Chicago. In 1956, Rabbi Lerer received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wisconsin State College in LaCrosse. In 1956 he received an advanced degree in Talmudic Scholarship from Merkaz Harav in Jerusalem.

Before becoming rabbi at what would later become Temple Menorah, Rabbi Lerer served as the spiritual leader for Congregation Beth Israel in Stevens Point, at Fort McCoy in Tomah, Congregation B'nai Avraham in LaCrosse, Congregation Beth Torah in North Miami Beach, Fla., Congregation Beth Shalom in Clifton, N.J. and Beth Hamedrosh Hagadol B'nai Shalom Anshe Sfard in Milwaukee. He was also an instructor at Yeshiva University in New York City, the same university at which he earned a masterís degree in Jewish studies and later a doctorate of Hebrew literature. He also taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Jewish Community High School and the LaFarg Institute For Senior Citizens, Hebrew Coalition For Jewish Learning

Rabbi Lerer always valued education, both Judaic and secular, following the advice of an esteemed teacher at Yeshiva Torat Chaim. In recognition of Rabbi Lererís concern for their continuing education, many former students and congregants continue to pay tribute to his lifetime of devotion and achievement.

As a community activist, the results of his efforts continue to benefit the developmentally disabled, the elderly and the needy. He initiated discussions with the state of Wisconsin to establish equal-opportunity housing for senior citizens close to shopping and transportation. The building of Temple Menorah, Alexian Village (formerly Tudor Oaks) and the apartments west of the synagogue were the results of his efforts.

His concern for developmentally disabled Jewish adults caused him to form the Organization for Concerned Jewish Citizens, create the Bínai Mitzvah program and work for Habush House supervised housing. Rabbi Lererís 50-plus years in the rabbinate are characterized by his striving to always serve the spiritual and physical needs of his congregations while he continued to study, teach others, understand and excel.

Rabbi Lerer is survived by his wife, Goldie (nee Schwartz); children Dr. Chavee (Vic Mellon) Lerer of Los Angeles, Michelle Lerer of Beverly Hills, Rabbi Gil-Ezer (Debbie) Lerer and Avi (Marsha) Lerer of Skokie, Ill., brothers Shlomo and Shmuel Lerer and sisters Tziporah Rudnitzky and Chasya Lahat, all of Israel; brother-in-law Irving Schwartz; and 12 grandchildren.

Funeral services were held on Wednesday at Temple Menorah, 9363 N. 76th Street in Milwaukee.