At the upcoming CCAR Convention, we will honor the class of 1965, those who have been CCAR members and served our movement for 50 years. In the weeks leading up to convention, we will share and celebrate the rabbinic visions and wisdom of these members of the class of 1965 and their 50 years in the rabbinate.
A wise friend once told me, “Retirement is not necessarily everything it’s cracked up to be.” At the time I didn’t believe him. Already retired a number of years, on a scale of 1 to 10, I felt I had a 12. But opportunity often strikes when you least expect it. A small part-time congregation arose near my suburban Atlanta home.
Marilyn, my eshet chayil of fifty-four years, and I discussed what this change might mean in our lives. We decided that reentering the congregational rabbinate would add immeasurably to our retirement. That was seven years ago. We have not regretted it.
Friendly baalbatim, on average our children’s ages, have made our lives easy. Our congregants lovingly regard us as bubbie and zeyde. This rings favorably in our ears. As the senior members of our congregation we enjoy both teaching them and learning in return. It is a mutual endeavor. Together we’re searching for life’s meaning at different stages of our lives. Judaism assists us in our quest. Our involvement also softens some of the inevitable changes retirement brings. Rabbinic continuity of service makes a real difference. Now we understand better why Moses remained vital to 120. Now when asked about retirement satisfaction I respond, “On a scale of 1 to 10, we have a 20.”
It seems unbelievable that we’ve reached the fifty year milestone since receiving s’micha. Incredulously, we ask, “Can this be true?” We are grateful but it is humbling. Throughout this span Marilyn and I served congregations as a team. In addition, Marilyn was for many years an educator, a public school and Hebrew school teacher. Commitment to a life of service came naturally to her. It was also part of our covenant with each other, the Jewish people and G-d.
Change and Continuity:
Like you, over the decades we have fulfilled many roles. Teachers, chaplain, college lecturer, community positons, interfaith representatives, counselors, comforters, writer and exemplars of the Jewish faith are part of the familiar mix. Congregations, a full time nursing home position, retreats, URJ camps and conclaves, Confirmation class trips, CCAR shaliach to kibbutz Nir Eliyahu, president of the GCAR/Greater Carolina Association of Rabbis, regional and national boards, a Doctor of Ministry degree in Counseling from Boston University School of Theology, four children and seven grandchildren – make for many blessings. Throughout fifty years the transcendent meaning of our faith, G-d, Torah and Israel, enabled us to hear the “still, small voice” motivating a life of service.
Retirement and Continuity:
Recently, to our delight, our baalebatim signed us up for two more years. We are looking forward to it. Judaism is infectious. We want to keep teaching it. Nothing gives our lives more direction, usefulness and continuity. Ihm yirtseh haShem, when these two years conclude, we’ll have reached another milestone, four score years. Ken y’hi ratson.