Jerome S. Gurland has carried his passions for faith and education with him into retirement. In the two and a half years he has been a resident at Glenmeadow, Rabbi Gurland has been a fountain of knowledge, enriching the community.
At his core, Rabbi Gurland strives to promote harmony, social justice and compassionate understanding. He does this through his personal relationships but also by serving as a strong yet silent leader. “I aim to make sure that people come to know each other, to understand each other,” Rabbi Gurland says. “When they do, whatever misconceptions they have will disappear. When they have open minds, their attitudes can change for the better.”
At Western New England, Rabbi Gurland taught the Modern Israel course, was an advisor to a Jewish student group and served as director of campus ministry. “I was a liaison between the college and the Jewish community, and ultimately, I became a liaison between the college and the interreligious community within the wider community,” Rabbi Gurland says.
Adding a 10-year stint as chair of Springfield’s Human Relations Commission to his resume only strengthened Rabbi Gurland’s connections. “I enjoy getting to know people, their background, their interests, their goals in interactive relationships with people of other faiths, and their education backgrounds,” Rabbi Gurland says.
Rabbi Gurland now brings his gifts to Glenmeadow residents, responding to a desire for information and enlightenment, by drawing in intriguing guest speakers, such as the president of a West Springfield mosque, who gave a presentation about Islam.
Sometimes, Rabbi Gurland himself has served as our speaker. He has led Passover seders and taught courses on Israeli writer Amos Oz, the Bible and texts in rabbinic literature. He has made many friends at Glenmeadow and reconnected with those he met while teaching or in the Springfield community over the course of a rich, fascinating life.
On Tuesday, September 27, Rabbi Gurland will moderate a panel presented through our Glenmeadow Learning program. Called Interfaith-ful Dialogue: Religion, Respect, and Tolerance, the talk will be held from 10 a.m.–noon at Western New England School of Law’s S. Prestley Blake Law Center, in Law Room A.
Our panel of religious leaders—representing Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—will share thoughts on respect and tolerance and how to engage the community around interfaith topics.
Rabbi Gurland always knew he wanted to teach, and wasted no time pursuing his goal, majoring in German and minoring in education during his undergraduate career. “I had hoped, ultimately, to be able to teach not only German, but other languages as well,” he says. “So I studied Spanish, French, Latin, Danish and Hebrew.”
Rabbi Gurland continued his graduate education at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, getting his first taste of leading a classroom as a junior instructor. But, it was not long after that that he discovered, and turned to, his other life’s passion: leading people in faith as a rabbi. After studying for five years at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and being ordained, Rabbi Gurland served in Rhode Island for 21 years, Florida for two years and in Springfield for 35 years.
Rabbi Gurland’s contributions to the community have been lauded in many ways. Elms College, for instance, established the Rabbi Jerome S. Gurland Interfaith Resource Collection within its library, and it now holds well over 100 books. Sinai Temple in Springfield, where Rabbi Gurland served as rabbi for six months in 1983, also created the Jerome Gurland Human Relations Award. The $1,000 award has been bestowed annually for the past 18 years to an individual who has made a significant contribution in the field of social action.
Rabbi Gurland received the Order of William Pynchon Award for distinguished service to the community in 2004 from the Ad Club of Western Mass, and he also received acclaim by the National Conference on Christians and Jews, now the National Conference for Community Injustice.
Glenmeadow has become yet another community in which Rabbi Gurland can build strong relationships and where his passions for faith and education can continue to flourish. He is very pleased with his new home, having confirmed all the good things he heard about Glenmeadow prior to his move here in 2013.
He said, “I enjoy the people. I enjoy the team members. I enjoy the facility. It’s beautiful.”