Here's an excerpt from "The Ritual Bath" by Faye Kellerman. It's the first in a series of novels about Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, and which is heavily flavored with Judaism:
"I didn't catch your name, Detective."
"Decker. Peter Decker" He handed the rabbi a card.
"Decker," the rabbi mouthed to himself. "I am Rav Aaron Schulman."
"Honored, Rabbi Schulman."
The old man let out a cough.
"Mrs. Adler is a free agent. Despite what the local residents think, this place isn't a cult and I'm not a guru. People are free to come and go on their own. More important, people are free to think on their own."
It makes me wonder if Jeff Melvoin, who wrote for 'Northern Exposure', was a fan of the book series. With the episode "Fish Story", he introduced the character of Rabbi Schulman into the show's mythos. And maybe he got even more inspiration from the book to suggest Jerry Adler in casting the role.
Rabbi Schulman was basically a spirit guide who showed up to help Dr. Joel Fleischman in two episodes of the show ("Fish Story" & "Shofar, So Good"). He even manifested himself a third time after Joel left Cicely, Alaska, in order to help Michelle ("Tranquility Base").
The book came out around 1986. The "Fish Story" episode was first broadcast in 1994.
Just wonderin', is all......