As we read in Torah, the Levites were tasked with many duties related to the Tent of Meeting. It was their responsibility to tend to the Ohel Moed, the sacred space where the People of Israel encountered God.
In this week’s parashah, in Numbers chapter 8, verses 23-26, we read that the Levites began their service at the age of 25. When they reached the age of 50, they retired from active duty. However, they were not completely dismissed from their responsibilities. Though they no longer engaged in heavy labor, they still could assist younger Levites.
The Torah teaches us that there comes a time when a religious leader should transition to a different stage in life. One steps aside to allow room for new leadership in the Tent of Meeting. You learn to give ground in order to allow someone else to do the heavy lifting. But you do not have to disappear from view. You can assist and be of service both to your fellow Levite as well as to the People of Israel.
I was drawn to these verses in the Torah portion because they speak to me with poignancy and relevance. This month marks the anniversary of when I was ordained a rabbi. It has been an honor and a source of countless blessings that I have served the Jewish people for 36 years. But like the Levites in Torah, there comes a time to transition to a new stage in my life.
After many months of reflection, as well as discussion with my family, I have made the decision that I will be retiring as rabbi of Temple Beth Torah effective June 30 of next year.
I am glad to say that this decision is solely my own.
God willing, after I retire, I will have the wisdom and strength to engage in new endeavors, whatever they may be. However, like the Levites when they reached the age of maturity, I will not disappear from service. Upon retirement, I will become the Rabbi Emeritus of our congregation.
I am very thankful for the understanding I have received this week from Temple’s leadership. I especially want to thank Ronnie Petersohn for her unfailing support. As she enters her fourth year as Temple president, having to conduct a rabbinic search was not something she anticipated. But I have enormous trust in her, as well as the board, that they will shepherd this process with utmost integrity and care.
I am deeply grateful for the relationships you and I have cultivated over the years. Together we have built and sustained Temple Beth Torah, a House of Worship, Learning, and Sacred Community. May we go from strength to strength.