I have posted before intermittently in a couple of pieces on the Times of Israel Blog, but today’s blog is the first under my own “banner.” It seems fitting that I’m beginning this new chapter of my writing because in six months I’ll be closing a long chapter when I retire from the congregational rabbinate after serving three congregations in three cities (San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles) over the last 40 years – the last 30 in my current congregation at Temple Israel of Hollywood.
I confess that I have mixed feelings as I prepare to step away. I anticipate missing much of what has occupied my time and energy all these years, the many people I love and care about, the duties of a senior rabbi, and the multitude of weighty ethical and moral issues that confront rabbis so frequently. And I’ll miss the intensity of helping people in their times of trouble and joy from the cradle to the grave.
I’ve learned much about people and myself these past 40 years. I’ve been pushed to the limits of my abilities countless times. I hope only that I’ve met adequately those challenges. I’ve learned and taught much Torah and I’ve shared as best I can my learning and wisdom with my community.
We’ve created much together in my congregation over the years and have evolved in wondrous ways as a community. I’ve taken controversial positions vis a vis American and Israeli justice, and though many have disagreed with me, I would hope that they know that my criticism comes from love.
Being in Hollywood, my community is as diverse as any in the country. We include Jews from around the world, all the religious streams, Jews and their non-Jewish spouses and partners, Jews-by-choice, LGBTQ Jews, Jews of color, people with widely varying degrees of wealth from the most fortunate to the least secure, “Hollywood” Jews who work in television, motion pictures, music, the arts, journalists, educators and professors, politicians and diplomats, physicians and health care professionals, lawyers and judges, financial experts and business people, self-employed entrepreneurs and the unemployed.
I’ve been fortunate to have had consistently a deeply meaningful and exciting rabbinic career. But in six months it will be my time to step aside, let others carry on, and give up most of what I do every day while embarking on the next stage of my life.
I’m ready to change my frame of my mind to whatever the future holds for me. I’ll let you know how it is going as time passes, so stay tuned!