A Re­cent Move to Sharon

At home with the Fish/Bieler fam­ily

Forward Magazine - - News - Read more at for­ward.com

As of July 1, Ron Fish, 46, is the new se­nior rabbi of Tem­ple Is­rael in Sharon, Mas­sachusetts. His wife, Leah Bieler, 43, is a Jewish ed­u­ca­tor and Tal­mud scholar. She car­ried on the cou­ple’s love for mu­sic when she served as Fish’s can­tor at their for­mer syn­a­gogue. The two re­cently moved to Sharon with their four Fish-Bieler chil­dren, Hani, 15; Dore, 13; Nili, 11, and Lavi, 7. Bieler, a na­tive of New York, has lived in the New York City area nearly her whole life, while Fish, as the son of a Con­ser­va­tive rabbi, moved around quite a bit, at­tend­ing three high schools in three states. Now, he is shar­ing his love of bas­ket­ball with his new con­gre­gants and may even show them the clip of his — sort of — ap­pear­ance on The Col­bert Re­port. He has an­swered all the ques­tions for the fam­ily.

FOR­WARD: How did you meet and come to live to­gether? RON: Leah and I met in the Hevruta room at JTS [ Jewish The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary]. It was the study area in the li­brary, in those days, where stu­dents could learn tra­di­tional texts in di­a­logue with a part­ner. Leah was study­ing for a de­gree in Tal­mud, and I was in my fourth year as a rab­bini­cal stu­dent. We talked about learn­ing us­ing the Stein­saltz ver­sus the tra­di­tional Tal­mud text and agreed that there was great value in us­ing Stein­saltz. Of course, she does not re­mem­ber this en­counter. Ob­vi­ously she made more of an im­pres­sion on me than I did on her. We sub­se­quently met again, at a mu­tual friend’s wed­ding.

We started dat­ing very soon af­ter, in the fall of my last year of rab­bini­cal school. When I was or­dained the fol­low­ing spring, I took a job in West Hart­ford, Con­necti­cut. We were en­gaged within six months and mar­ried a year later.

How are house­hold chores di­vided among you? Our chores are very much shared. How­ever, Leah is the cook. She is an out­stand­ing chef, so I do lit­tle in the food prep depart­ment. I do much in the food cleanup, shop­ping, or­ga­niz­ing and straight­en­ing-up end of things.

Who makes break­fast? Break­fast is a hur­ried af­fair dur­ing the week. With four kids who have to get out of the house by 7 or so, there is not a lot of time. We usu­ally split our morn­ings of break­fast re­spon­si­bil­ity: three to Ron and two to Leah. De­scribe your typ­i­cal week. Our week has re­volved around Shab­bat. With the week­days usu­ally in­volv­ing var­i­ous kinds of night­time meet­ings for me, I hope to be part of bed­time at least twice a week. On Shab­bat the whole fam­ily comes to shul and par­tic­i­pates. Very of­ten, Leah leads part of the ser­vice, and Hani, our 15-year-old, pitches in with youth ser­vices. Dur­ing some of the sum­mer we have “Shab­bat Bas­ket­ball” at our home, invit­ing the whole com­mu­nity to en­joy Shab­bat af­ter­noon to­gether with us. We of­ten have Shab­bat din­ner guests as well.

What’s the most un­usual thing we’d see on your house­hold bud­get? Our bud­get’s stand­out item might be air­line tick­ets to Is­rael. We man­age to spend sum­mers in Jerusalem al­most ev­ery year. This sum­mer was an ex­cep­tion.

What would you serve at your ideal Sun­day brunch? Our ideal Sun­day brunch — is [hav­ing] one. I work on Sun­days. Ideal Shab­bat din­ner is in Jerusalem with our whole fam­ily, singing and en­joy­ing great steak and fan­tas­tic wine.

Who is your fa­vorite Jewish co­me­dian? Co­me­dian — Leah would say Jon Stewart. I say Stephen Col­bert. Even though he is Catholic, he gets it. Stewart still seems to be work­ing out his Jewish “is­sues.” Col­bert gets faith and irony, he gets the mean­ing of tra­di­tion and he can poke fun at it at the same time. Full dis­clo­sure: I was once “on” “The Col­bert Re­port.” Google it.

What is your hap­pi­est or sad­dest mem­ory in your home? Most pow­er­ful mem­ory in my home was sit­ting shiva for my fa­ther. I have never felt more sup­ported by fam­ily, com­mu­nity, friends and Jewish tra­di­tion.

What’s one thing you do that de­fines your Jewish iden­tity? I am a rabbi. My wife is a scholar of Tal­mud, a writer on largely Jewish themes and a singer of Jewish mu­sic. Our home is per­me­ated with the smells, rhythms and mean­ing of Jewish time. There is no mo­ment which de­fines our Jewish­ness; they all do.


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