July 14, 2020

 

My Dearest CBI Millburn Community,

It is hard to believe that my tenure as your rabbi is ending on July 31st.  This means I am in this position for only another 18 days.  My first day at CBI was August 1st – and what happens at CBI on the first Thursday of August – a free BBQ. It was great to meet over 200 of my new friends that evening. Yes, I know that it was a FREE dinner, and folks were not coming out [just] to meet the new rabbi, nevertheless it was an AMAZING start to an even greater year.  Thank you for that!

I need to highlight one person I met that night: Marvin Fish. He came early to the BBQ – I was told that some of the older folks would do so. Marvin did. I asked him how long he was affiliated with CBI.  He said 70+ years. I thought to myself – who could be affiliated with anything for over 70 years?! Indeed, Marvin and a few others have been connected with CBI for what seems to be forever. This is just one special aspect of CBI.

I came into a community that, for some, was hurting and in need of healing and support. Today, one year later, I want to thank each and every one of you who have told me that there is a new vibe at CBI.  Thank you for taking that journey with me. CBI was, and still is, an vibrant, warm community with so much happening now, and so much potential.  

From the very beginning of my year, I said that CBI is a heimish community. That is a key quality that isn’t magically created. It is created by each and everyone of you reading this letter. It is not unusual to have two-generation families. In fact, there are a few three-generation families. And this year we welcomed a few new families, too. A vibrant community needs both. 

We did a lot together – we engaged teens more – leading part of Musaf on Yom Kippur, leading a hakkafah on Simchat Torah, or studying and eating at Torah Teen Time. We studied together – ethics today and ethics of yesterday as we brought Torah to the hood and plunged into Ethics of our Fathers. I was honored to reach out to the community and hand out honey cakes at Rosh Hashanah and donuts during Hanukkah with my fellow Millburn rabbis. Thank you to Mariela for that suggestion.

We prayed, studied, and stood together on Martin Luther King Day and displayed the word DREAM in our front yard, only to be followed by banners connecting with those of us fighting against injustice and expressing appreciation for our first responders as they fight COVID-19. And for the month of June we stood in solidarity with the LGBTQ community by displaying a pride flag.

And now we are at the end of the year. I thank you again for welcoming me into your community. It is hard to believe that I made so many new acquaintances, friends, fellow walkers and learners. I hope that I was able to challenge some of you to do better in this fractured world. I hope that I was able to help some of you pray with more kavannah – intention.  I hope that I was able to better connect some of you with your own Judaism and with this special community.

I will miss studying together, engaging at kiddush together, walking in the reservation together, davening together. And a HUGE shoutout to Cantor Wallach for being my partner in this endeavor and for continuing to inspire all of us with her spirit and voice.

I will also miss this TEAM — Harvey Brenner, Rabbi Julie Schwarzwald and up until a few weeks ago, Rochelle Barron. Today there is a great team at CBI.  

May it continue to flourish with Rabbi Eisenberg as you move forward. This is a lehitraot, and not a goodbye. I hope to see you again. 

Rabbi Paul Resnick