A story by Biddeford Cultural & Heritage Center "Voices of Biddeford" project from 1950s to 2018
Voices of Biddeford interview with Cantor Beth and Dr. David Strassler on December 4, 2018
The Strasslers grew up in New York and came to Biddeford in 1982. Dr. David Strassler set up his first medical practice while his wife Beth commuted to UNH to teach occupational therapy. Dr. Strassler's approach was always been to focus on the whole person by including family dynamics. Despite having chosen career paths that can be all-consuming, they were determined to also "live their lives." They had different spiritual journeys that led them to highly value their Judaism. Although welcomed upon arrival by Biddeford's Congregation Etz Chaim, it was on the brink of closing. They gradually took on leadership roles with a focus on customizing services and programs to meet the needs of the community. In 2022, Dr. Strassler serves as the synagogue president, and Beth is an ordained Cantor.
In their interview, Steve and Beth talk about the impact of the Holocaust on David's family; the interesting (and funny!) story of his journey to become a doctor; starting up his first ever practice in Biddeford and why they stayed; the history and evolution of Biddeford's Jewish population and synagogue; navigating drastic changes in the healthcare field from solo practitioner with his unique filing system, to being employed by a large organization; stories that paint a picture of Biddeford through the years; how the interfaith community came together for support after the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting; the similar challenges they faced as other religions and how to meet the needs of the next generation.
Recorded on December 4, 2018.
View a transcript of this interview, more pictures, and additional information.
For more stories from the "Voices for Biddeford" project, visit Voices of Biddeford.
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