Temple Israel’s Rabbi Glaser Announces Cancer Diagnosis

In a stunning email sent Friday morning, Temple Israel Rabbi Sim Glaser announced that he does not anticipate returning to his work at the Minneapolis synagogue after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

The letter, which came from Glaser and Senior Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, was meant to address the queries that Glaser had been getting as he had not been as present at Temple services, life cycle events, and classes. 

Many of you have noticed that I have not been present for services, life cycle occasions, and classes, all of which I have missed very deeply—as I miss all of you,” Glaser wrote. “My family and I are in the process of learning more about my treatment. Because of this, I do not anticipate returning to my work at Temple Israel.

“Right now, I need to focus on the medical and spiritual journey ahead of me and my family and I appreciate your respect of my privacy at this difficult time.”

Glaser has been at Temple Israel since 1999, and is often on the bimah with his guitar. He also performed for many years both as a musician and comedian at the annual Jewbilee events held on Christmas Eve at Seventh St. Entry in Minneapolis. 

Zimmerman said that the Temple community is doing everything they can to care for Glaser and his family. An email address has been set up to send him messages directly, and cards can be sent to Temple Israel (2323 Fremont Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405), and Zimmerman will deliver them to Glaser. Donations for a r’fuah sh’leimah, a complete healing, may be made to the Rabbi Sim Glaser Fund for Learning and Justice.

“He’ll always be part of the Temple family,” Zimmerman said. “We’ll miss him and his humor right now, but we understand this is the right thing for him. Temple needs to be there in a supportive role, and (getting treatment) is his first and foremost need to put his energy towards.

While we understand that many of you will want to offer meals, flowers, or other gestures of healing, please respect the family’s wish for privacy at this time. The greatest gift you can give the Glaser family is the space to process and to focus on health.”

Zimmerman said there is a tradition to recite Psalms daily, and to give tzedakah in hopes of healing for those who are sick. She sent a list of Psalms that may be recited.

“If you are moved to do so, you may add your name to the sheet and commit to reciting a Psalm daily or weekly,” she said. “Our collective prayers have great power in sending Rabbi Glaser our love and support.”

Glaser thanked Zimmerman, the clergy team and staff at Temple Israel for their moral support and caring.

“Your healing prayers are most welcome. During this long absence from physical togetherness, I have missed being able to greet each of you with a hug — at Shabbat services, Torah study, classes, life cycle events, and other occasions. Please accept one from me now, albeit virtually,” he said. “Thank you all in advance for your understanding, and for the good wishes I know you will be sending my way.”