Beth Shalom’s ‘Tonight’ 40 Years in the Making

Beth Shalom’s ‘Tonight’ 40 Years in the Making

Michael Jacobs

Atlanta Jewish Times Editor Michael Jacobs is on his second stint leading the AJT's editorial operations. He previously served as managing editor from 2005 to 2008.

Rabbi Mark Zimmerman fills the role of Jimmy Fallon on the “Tonight Show” set at Beth Shalom’s “Studio 613.”
Rabbi Mark Zimmerman fills the role of Jimmy Fallon on the “Tonight Show” set at Beth Shalom’s “Studio 613.”

A live studio audience of hundreds of Congregation Beth Shalom members packed the sanctuary Saturday night, Feb. 27, for “The Tonight Show With Rabbi Zimmerman,” a 40th birthday celebration for the Conservative synagogue in Dunwoody.

At least, it has been in Dunwoody since the city formed Dec. 1, 2008. Rabbi Mark Zimmerman, who has led Beth Shalom since 1988, joked that no one knew where they were. Norcross? Peachtree Corners? Duluth?

Regardless, Rabbi Zimmerman said, doing his best Jimmy Fallon, Beth Shalom is in a great location: “I can stand on Winters Chapel Road for an hour and not see a single Jew walk past.”

It was a night packed with self-deprecating humor covering the congregation’s history, including interesting rabbis, denominational shifts, synagogue presidential politics, and movement from Stone Mountain to Chamblee to Dunwoody.

Rabbi Zimmerman delved into his hiring 28 years ago with his first guest, Marcia Bergman, who was the congregation president at the time. He had offers in other states and didn’t expect Beth Shalom to try to hire him, but Bergman said the congregation was desperate to have a rabbi in place for the High Holidays.

“I wasn’t the last choice,” the rabbi said. “I was the only choice.”

The night of fun and, of course, food also featured a lip-sync contest, the music of Nick and the Grooves, and a Pictionary-type contest in which Rabbi Zimmerman and “Blanche Horowitz” (Star 94’s Steve Tingle) had to draw representations of the word brit.

If you missed the celebration, don’t worry. David Izenson’s spoof on synagogue announcements included the date for the 50th anniversary: March 10, 2026. Get your tickets early for a $5 discount.

read more: