Ari’s parents, Leonard and Elayne Shapiro, have been involved with Cedar Sinai Park for three decades. Leonard Barde, the chair of Robison’s religious committee, called Ari’s dad around 1990 and asked him to lead services for the nursing home residents.
Leonard Shapiro did the prayers in Hebrew; Elayne read the English passages, and scurried around with a microphone to get other contributions from residents.
Naturally, the Shapiros brought their three sons along. “It was the family activity,” Ari Shapiro says, and the three brothers were accustomed to reciting prayers. “It’s something we’d been doing since we were little kids in Fargo, North Dakota.”
Most weeks they’d attend services at Portland synagogues Congregation Neveh Shalom, or Havurah Shalom, and sometimes the “beehive temple,” (Ahavath Achim), Shapiro says. But once a month, they’d go lead services at Robison instead.
Thirty years later, Leonard and Elayne Shapiro still help lead Saturday and High Holiday services. Leonard also served for about 12 years on CSP’s Board of Trustees. And Elayne led a current events group for residents for about 10 years. They also help provide meals for people in a homeless shelter along with other Havurah Shalom volunteers. And they both are long-time participants in a Shabbat study group.
“This is what we do,” Elayne says.
Ari vividly recalls how moving to Garden Home, the unincorporated area between Portland and Beaverton, brought him in touch with a much bigger Jewish community than he experienced back in Fargo.
He went off to summer camp at Solomon Schechter, a Jewish summer camp in Washington, and joined the USY—United Synagogue Youth—here. He celebrated his bar mitzvah at Congregation Neveh Shalom.
Ari furthered his study of Hebrew while enrolled at Yale University. He and his husband Michael Gottlieb, often host Shabbat dinners and Passover seders at their D.C. home.
Growing up Jewish helped him in his career as a radio journalist, Ari says. “I think the primary Jewish value that comes to play every day in my life is asking questions,” he says.