Rabbi makes people laugh on purpose

Rabbi Bob Alper will perform his comedy routine Saturday at Emanuel Synagogue in Oklahoma City.
BY CARLA HINTON chinton@opubco.com Published: February 11, 2012

A comic who knows his way around a synagogue will perform his stand-up routine at an Oklahoma City Jewish house of worship.

Bob Alper's knowledge of Jewish religious life comes naturally: He's a rabbi.

Alper, 67, said his gift of comedy comes naturally as well.

The Vermont rabbi will perform Saturday at Emanuel Synagogue, 900 NW 47.

In a telephone interview, Alper said he was always interested in comedy but chose his career path in the 1960s when there weren't many stand-up comics.

He said he became a rabbi and enjoyed leading two congregations in the Philadelphia area over a 14-year period. And he didn't let go of his dream of becoming a comic — he just utilized his humor as a holy man.

“I used humor in every aspect of my rabbinate including funerals, although you have to be careful,” he said, chuckling.

“Weddings, teaching, sermons — sometimes you have to have humor in sermons to get people's attention.”

Alper, who holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary, said his dream of being a comic was realized in 1986 when he left the rabbinate with a goal of opening a counseling office (his wife of 42 years, Sherri, is a psychotherapist).

Alper said he never opened the counseling office because he entered the “Funniest Jew in Philadelphia” contest. He said he didn't win — he placed third behind a chiropractor and a lawyer.

However, a local television talk show host called him and said she thought he should have won. Alper said the host invited him on her show, and his stand-up comedy career was launched.

Watch video of Bob Alper

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• When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Emanuel Synagogue, 900 NW 47.

• Cost: $18 in advance, $22 at the door.

• Information: 528-2113.

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