A rusty black pickup truck with a whitetail deer sticker in the back window sat parked, illegally, on the sidewalk outside the Sons of Israel synagogue on a Friday night. No one was around to complain. The plain brick building is wedged between typical, four-squared Pennsylvania homes, still decorated for Halloween in this rural Clearfield County town that lost nearly half its population over the last century.
With minutes to spare, Rabbi Bruce Gottlieb pulled up in his minivan for the monthly 7 p.m. Shabbat service. The synagogue runs on “Jewish time,” one congregation member joked. But it’s a miracle that Sons of Israel runs at all — with fewer than 10 active families.