In 1989, Rabbi Eliot H. Pearlson succeeded Rabbi Meyer Abramowitz z”l, now Rabbi Emeritus, who had served Temple Menorah since its founding in 1949. Rabbi Pearlson was no stranger to Temple Menorah, having served as our Director of Education before leaving for a pulpit in Asheville, North Carolina.
Born in upstate New York, he is the youngest of eight children. His parents, Sylvia and Ben ז”ל were farmers near Buffalo until moving to Miami Beach in 1963, where they entered the Hotel and Hospitality industry
Within months of assuming his duties, Rabbi Pearlson followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, affirming the well-deserved notoriety of Temple Menorah by opening the institution to hundreds of Russian Jews escaping from the Soviet Union. Along with the survivors of the Holocaust and the refugees of Castro’s Cuba, another generation of Jewish refugees were guaranteed a spiritual home and place to worship.
Rabbi Pearlson’s Jewish education is varied and diverse. Although serving in a Conservative synagogue, Rabbi Pearlson has studied in “Litvishe” Yeshiva programs such as the Greater Miami Mesifta, The Talmudic University , Lubavitch Yeshiva-Tomchei Tmimim, and Yeshiva University.
In addition to his religious studies, Rabbi Pearlson has undergraduate degrees in Jewish Studies and Biochemistry, a Masters Degree in Rabbinic Literature, and graduate studies in Microbiology at the University of Florida. He was granted his Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree in Community Leadership by The Florida Center for Theological Studies in 2010. Rabbi Pearlson received Orthodox Rabbinic Ordination at the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mt. Zion-Jerusalem.
Among Rabbi Pearlson’s community outreach efforts has been the ‘adoption’ of an African American Church. ln addition to a pulpit exchange with its minister, Temple Menorah also sponsored its Afternoon Computer Lab for Children at Risk. As a Jewish activist, Rabbi Pearlson has been arrested defending Jewish causes in Auschwitz-Birkenau, New York City and Miami—as his supporters note: “Arrested, but never convicted.”
Rabbi Pearlson’s wife Judy was born and raised in the traditional Jewish community of Lawrence, Massachusetts, once known as “America’s Shoe Capital.” Judy learned her strong Jewish values from both her parents and grandparents, founders of the Jewish sister communities of Lawrence and Haverhill.
Judy moved to South Florida to attend the University of Miami, where she received her B.S. in Education. Upon completion of her Masters degree at Nova University, Judy entered the field of Jewish education where she met Rabbi while she was supervisor of C.A.J.E.’s Judaic High School (and Rabbi’s boss!).
In 1993 Judy was appointed Director of Early Childhood Education at Temple Menorah. Under her leadership, the B. Cohen Early Childhood Center grew rapidly. She stepped down from her leadership role in 2009, but continues to contribute her expertise to Temple Menorah’s Jewish Montessori program.