Beth Israel Congregation - Ann Arbor, Michigan

Rabbi’s HaShaliach Article

May/June 2018

This is my last “Rabbi’s message” in HaShaliach. Even though it has been almost a year since I announced that this would be my final year as rabbi of Beth Israel, I am still unable to find the words that will adequately express all that I am feeling.

First, before anything else, I want to tell you all that I am completely confident about Beth Israel’s future. I have spoken extensively with Rabbi Nadav Caine and I am confident that he will lead this congregation to greater heights while continuing many of the traditions that we have built. I look forward to assisting in the transition behind the scenes at first and later, on occasion, in a more public role. I wish him and the congregation all the best in the years to come.

Now it is time to share some words of appreciation.

I want first to thank the staff members of the congregation, present and past. It has been a pleasure and privilege to work with such dedicated individuals who give of themselves, their time and effort on behalf of our synagogue.

Of course, I can not name everyone with whom I have worked over the past 30 years individually but each and every one has my appreciation and respect. Working for the Jewish community is not always easy but it can be especially rewarding and I only hope that all of those who have been part of our Beth Israel staff carry great memories and satisfaction of the work we have done together.

Thank you to all who have taken leadership positions during the past years. Your dedication to our congregation and to our community has always been appreciated and you have always made me feel supported in the work that I do.

And, finally, my deepest thanks to all of you who came to services, classes and programs, who trusted me to help you at times of need and celebrate with you at times of joy and who supported the synagogue in any way you did. The synagogue is all about you and it has been an honor to share good times with you and to help ease some of the burden of sad times.

At the conversation to take place after the service on Shabbat morning, May 12, which you will read about elsewhere in this newsletter, I will go into more detail about the reasons for my decision to leave the position of rabbi. But, please be assured that my decision in no way reflects dissatisfaction with Beth Israel or the rabbinate.

I chose to accept the position at Beth Israel in 1988 instead of other options for several reasons. It turned out to be the second best decision of my life. Actually, since I met Ellen in Ann Arbor, I could really call it the “best decision” but that wouldn’t sound right.

The past 30 years have been truly a pleasure for me and I found all that I hoped to find at Beth Israel and Ann Arbor. But, I believe this job can only be done with 100% physical, emotional and spiritual stamina and I see the days coming soon when that would not be possible for me. I also believe that synagogues and Jewish life are changing and call for new ideas and new perspectives. For these reasons, it made this the proper time to make this transition in my life.

I will soon be discussing with Rabbi Caine and with the board the parameters of a role as “rabbi emeritus”. I hope, after a few months away, to do some teaching at Beth Israel and to be a rabbinic presence in specific situations. But, as I wrote in my letter to the congregation last April, this role will in no way infringe on the position of rabbi of the congregation which I know will be in very good and capable hands.

With deep appreciation, respect and love, thank you all.

Rabbi Robert Dobrusin