Rabbi's report delivered to Temple Israel 2011/5772 Annual Meeting

Dear Temple members,

It continues to be a wonderful experience for me to serve as your Rabbi.  Now that I’m into my second year at Temple Israel, I’ve come farther along in getting to know, or at least making the acquaintance of, almost everyone in our Temple community.  I plan to continue to do my best to deepen and expand these relationships in the months and years to come.

Since our last annual meeting, I’ve led or participated in a number of life cycle events for Temple members, their families, and other folks in the local Jewish community including baby namings , a pidyon haben,  weddings,  conversions and  funerals.  Sadly, the latter type of life cycle event has been the most numerous.  However, I’ve also in the past year had the privilege of working with three of our teens as they were confirmed at Shavuot, the holiday known in our tradition as “Zeman Matan Torateynu” (“The Season of the Giving of the Torah”) and welcoming two new students with consecration at Simchat Torah, when our yearly Torah reading cycle starts anew.  In the meanwhile, I continue to teach, from the Bima, in Torah study group, in Hebrew school and in Adult Education.  And I’m particularly happy to be starting to engage in the Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation process with a new group of prospective 2013 Bnai Mitzvah and with a new group of confirmation students starting a two-year preparation towards confirmation in 2013.  In all of these endeavors, Andrea Buck has been a great professional partner with her excellent work as Youth Education Director.

In the past year I’ve been involved in numerous community events and meetings with individuals and groups seeking to learn about Judaism and the Jewish community, representing our congregation at such events as the City of Duluth’s September 11th program, the interfaith Thanksgiving service and the CHUM holiday concert.   I’m especially happy that we’ve been able this year to deepen our congregation’s connections with Habitat for Humanity and with the Islamic Center of the Twin Ports, to name just a couple of initiatives.

In general, I have been feeling increasingly at home at Temple Israel and in Duluth, especially after the wonderfully warm installation I experienced here in May, and especially since my partner Peter was finally able to finish his own relocation to Duluth in August. 

This was my first year that I was able to begin really putting my stamp on how we conduct our High Holiday services.  As usual, Mike Grossman and the High Holiday committee did spectacular work, and I’m pleased that our new machzor (generously funded by the Lurye/Kuretsky  family) was such a hit.  And, as I’ve mentioned in recent Bulletin articles, the violin playing and choral conducting of Erin Aldridge, and the participation of the Temple Choir, at High Holidays were beautiful and inspiring.  Also on the ritual front, I’m so grateful to Temple Israel’s talented rabbinic aides, Gary Gordon, Linda Eason and Chris King, who have stepped in to assist with life cycle, service leading and pastoral tasks when I have been out of town for conferences or vacation.  In addition, Deborah Petersen Perlman, Trevor Swoverland, Maureen O’Brien, Sheryl Grana, Mark Weitz and Ben Yokel have also led services or Torah study in my absence and I’m grateful to them as well.  And Danny Frank and Casey Goldberg have been great musical partners in services throughout the year.  ( I’d also like to thank Danny for his musical accompaniment at the CHUM holiday concert last week.)

My priorities continue to be to serve the spiritual needs of the members of our congregation, to teach and represent Jewish culture and tradition within our congregation and in the wider community, and to work with all of you to further our people’s quest for Tikkun Olam  (“repair of the world”).

Through all this, it has been a particular pleasure to work with such dedicated and mentshlikh people as those who serve on our Temple staff:  Andrea Buck, Carrie Kayes, Pauline Russell, Marko Jukic , Marjeanne Tehven, and Dori and Ben Streit.  And it’s a joy to work with such capable and committed lay leadership at both the Board and Committee levels, led by our wonderful Temple president Neil Glazman.  Neil and I are off to Washington, DC next week for the Union for Reform Judaism biennial and I know we both look forward to connecting with Reform Jews from around North America and to reporting back to all of you about what we learn there.

Finally, I would like to thank our outgoing Board members, Ethan Kayes and David Siegler for all of their generous commitments of time and energy.  And welcome and best of luck to our incoming board members Danny Frank and Theresa Neo.   

May they and all of us go from strength to strength in the coming year.


Rabbi David Steinberg


Posted on December 11, 2011 .