In Tribute to the Founders of

Chabad of Cary

Rabbi Aaron and Rebbetzin Leah Herman


Rabbi Aaron Herman grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and attended Rabbinical Schools in London, New York and Connecticut. He was the director of Chabad of Cary for ten years and established the popular give-and-take Shabbat morning services, when every question is valued and every aspect of the Torah is worthy of exploration. He also taught JLI for Chabad of Cary and ran many of the innovative holiday events.

While living in North Carolina, Rabbi Aaron was involved Jewish education for more than 12 years. He served as Head of School for the Jewish Academy of Wake County and was involved in the Raleigh-Cary Melton Adult Mini-School since its inception. He also served as an adjunct professor of religion at Meredith College and worked as the Jewish Chaplain for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Butner, North Carolina.

Loved by all, Rabbi Herman was avid juggler and unicyclist and performed a Chanukah routine every year at Crabtree Valley Mall and the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Cary.

Rebbetzin Leah Herman brought warmth and a listening ear to Chabad of Cary. She founded the monthly Friday Night Dinners along with the women's prayer class each Shabbos. Her monthly Women’s Forum served as part social group, party idea exchange and part support group and was loved by so many in the community.

In 2011, Rabbi Aaron was offered the position of Dean of a Jewish Girl's Seminary and the Herman family moved to Pittsburgh.

Rabbi Aaron, Rebbetzin Leah, Malka, Nechama, Esty, and Menachem are dearly missed...

During the summer of 2011, Chabad of Cary produced a "farewell book" for the Herman family filled with messages from all those they touched. Below is a small selection from those messages...

No words can express how much the entire Herman family means to our family.

Thank you.

--The Bograd Family


I would like to thank Rabbi amd Rebbetzin Herman for their kindness and warmth. Anytime my family had a question, Rabbi Herman was readily accessible.

Although we did not get the chance to attend, we were always included and invited to celebrations and observances. We hope to attend in the near future.

My husband Robert came to Chabad a year or so ago to pick up the lulav and etrog that we had ordered for Succot. It was necessary for Rabbi Herman to ride a short distance in our vehicle to retrieve the arba minim set. We were so honored that the rabbi had ridden in our car!

Robert, Dakotah (Tzvi), and myself wish the Herman family all the best for all ages. We will miss them and are so very thankful for the opportunity to know them.


Robert, Rebekah and Dakotah(Tzvi), Reed

"You never know who's in the room"

Over 8-9 years, Rabbi Aaron taught me many things. He started with "just do one more mitzva". Out of 613, I was reliably doing maybe 5. He never expected me to get to 613 by the weekend, but just do one more.

I found this pretty motivating, and didn't realize it was the classic Chabad model, because he was so earnest, set such a good example, and was one of the best teachers in my memory.

So that was classical teaching, but Rabbi Aaron did even better for me. For some time, I have been an "activist", raising money various causes to help Israel. I would help put on events without a lot of institutional support, and the results were sadly predictable. Not much participation, not much forward progress. Rabbi Aaron, being ever hopeful and optimistic, would cheer me on saying it's not about the numbers. It's about doing it, keep going. Besides, you never know who's in the room.

Putting a lot of work into a program that draws only a small crowd can be discouraging. But Rabbi Aaron said that if one of those was a person with a lot of energy and a good heart, and if one other influenced three friends, it could all be very well worth doing. I told Rabbi Aaron that seemed like a leap of faith, and he just smiled. So I tried to soldier on, standing up for Israel among many who saw Israel as flawed, and or simply didn't much care. Rabbi Aaron would console me that standing up for Israel can be a lonely business, but that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. Besides, you never know who's in the room.

Roger Harris

10 purim howard.jpg

I was very fortunate to meet Rabbi Herman last summer in preparation for my wedding. Rabbi Herman had a long relationship with my wife's family (Marti and Sharon Mayer).
My wife and I felt it very important that Rabbi Aaron marry us because of the kindness he showed the Mayer's during Marti's illness and ultimate death.
Rabbi Aaron and Leah were awesome to work with during the months preceeding the wedding, and the wedding went off without a hitch.
Rabbi Aaron and his family will always hold a special place in our hearts for the compassion and kindness he showed to the Mayers and my wife and me.
I have two brothers living in Pittsburgh and hope to be able to visit the Hermans when we are up there.

Bryan, Rosalind, Rachel and Nathan Weil

It has been a a great pleasure to sit, and study under your guidance. You have made an impact in my life, in which I am eternally grateful.
May you continue to exercise your gift in Pittsburgh. You will be greatly missed.

-- Ruth Cruz-Nichols

All the best from the Stern family.
Richard, Alexia, Gabriella, Lesley-Beth and Ron

bm malka ellen bw.jpgI want to thank each of you for leaving me with many happy memories over the years that we have known each other. And, of course, more than memories I have all of the precious lessons about life, family, community and Torah that each of you has given me. They are truly precious gifts. I will cherish all of it and truly miss your presence in my life - especially on Shabbos.

I wish each of you a very happy, fulfilled life in Pittsburgh, complete with many blessings and tons of new friends. You're all going to do great things there! I hope that you feel the love and support of your Chabad of Cary family behind you always. And I hope you know that the seeds you have planted here - and in the community at large - will continue to blossom as a testament to what you have done for us all.

With much love and admiration

--- Ellen

The Herman Family represents the best of 5,000 years of Judaism.
Before Rabbi Aaron and Rebbetzin Leah moved to Cary, we had the pleasure of speaking to them about the exciting opportunity of bringing Chabad to our community. Little did we realize the impact this would have on kindling the spirit of being Jewish into our daily lives. As a result of their efforts, Larry and I had an opportunity to have a real "Jewish" Wedding and share this occasion with our friends. I had an opportunity to honor all the women in my family by attending The Mikvah with Rebbitzen Leah. We have studied together with a renewed sense of identity and committment while we learned about our beautiful heritage at Melton. We have been blessed to experience the many Mitzvahs of learning and caring about each other as a family. We will not say Goodbye, but Shalom. Peace be with you always. Love and Thank You from The Stolzenberg Family as you leave one home and move on to another. We will never forget You.....

-- Janice & Larry Stolzenberg

09 chanukah esther chami.jpgYou are more than just our Rabbi and Rebbetzin. You both and your family have made an indelible mark on our hearts forever.
- Josh, Aaron, Steve & Lisa Feierstein

Rabbi Aaron & Rebbetzin Leah Herman will be greatly missed. We appreciate all they did for the community and always considered them friends.

All our best wishes and a big thank you !!!

-- Bob & Diane Lazaar

It’s the summer of 2000, 2 a.m. Rabbi Aaron and I are driving north somewhere on I-95 when the conversation becomes philosophical. “Michael,” the Rabbi asks, “Is non-kosher meat really better than kosher meat?” “What do you mean?” I reply. “Chicken is chicken, or do you mean something like a non-kosher steak.” “Filet Mignon,” he asks, “is it really that good?” Of course, the answer is yes. The best steak at the best kosher restaurant pales next to the T-bone I used to grab on sale at Winn-Dixie. And that’s what I tell him, because Rabbi Aaron always wants the truth, to be forthright and honest.

In the year that we studied together, as I was steadily becoming more observant, he never sugar coated anything. Sure, Judaism is often uplifting and meaningful, but some mitzvos are a drag. When I fell in love with an orthodox girl, I panicked, and Rabbi Aaron taught me all the halachos of taharas hamishpacha, marriage, and relations - in one night. He made sure that there were no surprises.

But the greatest thing Rabbi Aaron did for me was that he made sure everything we learned together was tailored for me, my interests, and my needs. When we learned something new, he would delineate between the normative halacha, standard Ashkenazi practice, and Chabad custom. That way, I had a clear distinction between halacha and minchag, and I understood the textual and historical reasons for the differences. Maybe he saw that it wasn’t in me to be a chassid, but I’m forever grateful that he did not push me to be someone I’m not.

Becoming an observant Jew is a lifelong journey, not a destination. Many kiruv rabbis act as tour guides for this journey, carefully guiding their students past every milepost of some preferred path. By contrast, Rabbi Aaron was my travel agent. He booked the trip, gave me a lot of background info, and even helped me pack (or at least toval), but he left the specifics to me. By arming me with choices and reasons as much as answers, he ensured that I’d always have the capacity to continue growing. It’s been a decade since I left Raleigh, but I’m still enjoying the trip, becoming ever closer with Hashem.

I’ve had many teachers and mentors in my life, but for one year, and especially for one night, Rabbi Aaron was exactly what I needed.

Thank you.
Michael Gerber

Mazel Tov in your new position. We will never forget your kindness and caring.

-- Philip and Annette Skoletsky

Rabbi Herman simply changed my life
-- Alan and Phyllis Kritz

Wishing the Herman family the best of luck in their new endeavor in Pittsburgh. We will never forget their devotion and dedication to Chabad of Cary. We will miss seeing them at Shabbat services.

—Lynn and Art Samberg

Rabbi Aaron, Rebbetzin Leah and their beautiful family have been part of our family for many years. We knew RAbbi when he was but a teenager and we have shared with him many happy and sad occasions. He was my husband's best friend and I shall never forget the joy he brought to Marty as he prepared to pass on. He has been a confidante to me and a guide and role model to my children and grandchildren. Rebbetzin Leah was a wonderful friend to my daughter as she prepared for her marriage. the lessons that she learned will stay with her always.
For now, all I can say is that they and all of Raleigh will miss this family as they return to Pittsburgh to begin a new life. (I wish they were coming to Eretz Yisrael). I wish them only nachas and happiness with the passage of time. I know that we shall meet again either here in Israel or in Pittsburgh. You have all my love.
—Sharon Mayer

What? You’re leaving us? NOT YET. I’m not ready. I was only just beginning to reap the benefits of studying with you, of attending women’s circle with Leah, and seeing your beautiful children grow. I need more time. And yet. I know it’s time for you to go, and, though I’ve not had nearly enough time to learn from you all, I know you’re leaving us in good hands.

I have such fond memories of your family. Of a warm, friendly, fun and delicious Shabbat dinner, of a profound class on Kabbalah, and of your visit to Olivia’s clown camp. You’ve enriched our community in so many ways. Though you will be greatly missed, you have left such a rich and wonderful legacy in all the lives you’ve touched in our community.

We've been blessed to have you here in our community. I am tickled to think of all the new lives you will touch as you establish yourselves in your new home.

Blessings and love,
The Diamonds – Pam, Jay, Zach and Olivia

Rabbi Aaron and Rebbetzen Leah have inspired me and my family to become not only better Jews but better people. They are younger than my children and I have regarded them as role models for the past ten years. Their wisdom, advice and loving deeds have profoundly changed my life and my family's lives. Their light will live in my heart forever.

According to the wisdom of Ben Sira 6,18: "A faithful friend is the medicine of life." Aaron, Leah and the children were the the prescription that changed my life. The relationship has had a profound effect on me in terms of giving me greater love for and knowledge of Judaism and friendship with the Hermans forever.

--Susan and Morty Berkowitz

Rabbi Aaron and Rebbetzin Leah have brought so much to our lives - warmth, caring, education in an open, no-pressure environment, and their wonderful humor and "joie de vivre" (wish I knew how to say that in Hebrew!). Not to mention the great Friday night dinners! In particular, the no-pressure environment has meant so much to Meg, a Gentile brought up in a very rigid, Christian fundamentalist setting who married her wonderful Jewish husband Matt and is now exploring what Judaism is all about, while Matt reconnects with his previously dormant Jewish heritage and practice. We will miss them terribly, but wish them all the best as they begin their new life in Pittsburgh. Rabbi Aaron, Leah and family, THANK YOU for everything you've given us. Don't be strangers...we expect visits as often as you're able!
— Matthew and Margaret Segal

It has definely been a blessing to my family, and me having the oppertunity to know the Herman family. Rabbi Aaron has enlighten me with Jewiswh thought and Torah study during Shabbath services. In addition, Rebbetzin Leah's womens ministry was a delight for my wife.

G‑d Bless
—The Gilmores

DSC_8965.jpgDear Leah, For me, you have been the one I look at to find out "how you tie your shoes" — how a relationship with Hashem shows up in the "real world." Watching you raise your children has helped me re-imagine what a family could be: that, despite all human limitations, we can form families where the positives outweigh the challenges. I have come to realize that strong homes can be cornerstones of communities, and so, of the world. (For me, raised secularly, that was not as obvious as it may be to you! I thought one had to maybe win a Nobel prize or something to change the world.)

In our community, you have been such a fine example of how to care deeply about our fellow Jews. By inviting us into your circle and your home, you have drawn our community together, taught us, and inspired us to seek and reveal Hashem. You exemplify feminine leadership that is both revolutionary and traditional by involving us in your life. The trust and confidence you place in each of us reaches deeply into our hearts, and helps us realize our own potential. And we need more leaders like you, who are making it real.

Dear Aaron, Here is the thing I’ve noticed about you that I plan to cultivate in myself: You treat every person and every Torah teaching as fascinating and full of awe. I really think that this caring and humility is what opens people's hearts to your teaching.

I came to Chabad of Cary to learn about my Jewish heritage. I never suspected how vividly my heritage would come to life before my eyes through our discussions. But what surprised me even more is the way I have come to life within my heritage. Turns out, I wasn’t just finding out about my ancestors, I was finding out about me. Thank you for meeting me where I was and putting me on the path. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Dear Malka, Nechama, and Esther, Thank you for insisting that I tell you stories of me and my sister misbehaving until I was forced to remember Smirksnorfleberry. I enjoy sharing her stories with you, which I am sure is making her very angry. I suppose she will simply have to suffer. That should cheer her up.

You are each very dear to me, and I look forward to hearing about (and attending) many simchas in your lives. When in doubt, just remember: wrist, wrist, elbow, elbow, touch the pearls.

-- Shoshannah Smith

Witnessing how Rabbi Aaron and family went about their lives, vividly demonstrated to me the power of our actions and behavior on the course of our lives:
* on who we are
* what kind of community we create to live amongst and
* the actualization of the Divine in each moment of life

The model of Rabbi Aaron and family empowered us to take each moment of my life more seriously, and realize the impact of each of my actions on myself, my community and the Oneness of experience of life.
— Arthur and Anya Gordon


Wishing you and your beautiful family much happiness and
fulfillment in Pittsburgh, a city dear to my heart filled with
wonderful memories of Pesachs past with my grandparents and
great-grandmother in Squirrel Hill.

I wish I could adequately express my gratitude to both of you for
rekindling my faith in Judaism and a desire to keep learning about it.

Rabbi Aaron, I've been challenged and inspired by your high-caliber
teaching. I so appreciate your open, non-judgmental manner. You never
made me feel like I'm not devout enough or knowledgeable enough. On
the contrary, you welcome, encourage and embrace whatever is my chosen
level of participation or wherever I am in my personal Jewish journey.
Your knowledge is amazing, but your commitment to share that
knowledge is even more amazing.

Leah, your welcoming hugs and radiant smile made me feel so much a
part of the Chabad of Cary, especially the women's group. You made me
proud to be a Jewish woman as we shared and explored important,
sometimes very personal, issues. Your Melton classes were the best,
again as you created a loving environment for learning and personal
sharing. I cherished the 3 Challah Baking Meditation sessions we
taught together and I learned something new from you each time. I will
miss you so much.

Love and Hugs to all the Hermans.

-- Jodi O'Neill

Dear Rabbi.

Thank you for your kindness, inspiration, and instruction. You and your family introduced me to the beauty of Chabad, and it has changed my life. You have made a tremendous impact on the Cary Jewish
community, and will be missed. I wish you and your family love, peace, and happiness as you embark on your new journey.


—Dr. Beverly Wilcher

Best wishes to the Herman Family as you start your new adventure. Many thanks for the love and learning you have given our family. Just from knowing you our lives and our hearts are warmer.
— Cindi and Joel Freeman

May all of our blessings to the Herman Family be fulfilled. Best wishes for a long and healthy future.
—Schwartz Family