Monday, March 24, 2014

Farewell

As of this summer I will no longer be the Chief Rabbi of the State of Nebraska.

I accepted a job as an assistant Rabbi of Beth Tfiloh in Baltimore, Maryland.  At our last board meeting I officially gave notice to Beth Israel Synagogue, and my family will be moving to Baltimore in June.

The Omaha Jewish community is amazing.  We are blessed with great synagogues, great Rabbis, resources, and of course, warm and friendly people.  There is even a wonderful Jewish day school where Miriam and I would have been proud to send our children.  

But Baltimore offers something to our children that Omaha can never offer - grandparents. 

Miriam's parents live almost within walking distance of Beth Tfiloh, and my parents are a short four hour drive away (as opposed to a four hour flight!)

Leaving Beth Israel is a painful decision.  In many ways we have an ideal life in Omaha, and there is something special to being the Rabbi of the only Orthodox Synagogue in the state.  My job and my life have a unique sense of purpose and meaning that Rabbis in larger communities do not experience in the same way.
There is also something special to raising children in smaller Jewish communities that gives them a sense of pride and joy in being Jewish that is harder to come by in larger Jewish communities.

Nevertheless, I feel so fortunate to have grown up close to my grandparents.  When I was growing up hardly a week went by that I did not see them, and all four of them had a profound impact on who I am today. Those lucky enough to have had that type of experience can easily understand why I would do what ever I could to provide that same blessing to my own children.

The last ten years have been among the most formative years of my life.  When I came here I was only 25 years old.  So much has happened to me since.

I am grateful for all of the experiences that I had here, and all of the friends who made those experiences possible.

I am proud of the many accomplishments that I have been privileged to achieve, especially building an eruv and developing, writing, and hosting the first ever Shabbos Morning Talk Show.  I don't know if I could have done those and other things anywhere else.

I want to thank all the people who gave us so much love and support over the years.  We will never forget you.  We hope to remain in touch and have opportunities to share happy occasions together in the future.

I hope everyone knows how much I truly love this community, and how proud and honored I was to serve as Rabbi here.

Soon Nebraska will have a new Chief Rabbi.

This past week over 200 new Rabbis received their semichah form Yeshiva University.  Perhaps one of those fine young men will be the next chief Rabbi of the state of Nebraska.  Beth Israel is a great shul and Omaha is a great community. I have no doubt that the best Rabbis will compete for this position, and whoever my successor will be, he will build on everything that we accomplished over the last ten years and take this shul and this community to new and higher levels than I could even imagine.  I ask that everyone do all that they can to support the next Rabbi so that he can be successful.

While I am sad to leave, I am excited to start my new position at Beth Tfiloh. We are grateful to Hashem for being good to our family and for giving me the privilege to teach Torah and serve the Jewish people for a living.

I can never thank Omaha enough for the wonderful experience of the last ten years.  I hope to visit many times in the future for happy occasions and to witness the Beth Israel's continued growth and success.

Thanks for everything.  May Hashem bless us all.

6 comments:

  1. Rabbi,

    Words cannot express the pain we feel in response to your departure. We are only consoled by our faith that G-d lent you to us for a predetermined time and for a higher purpose we cannot understand. We wish you all the best for your new life in Maryland.

    Personally, I will never forget all you and the Rebitzen have done for me and for our community at large. In our lifetime and our children's and grandchildren's lifetimes, there will never be another Rabbi Jonathan Gross. Your accomplishments are appreciated and will help future Omaha generations. That is just one of countless reasons you will never be forgotten.

    No words can ever express the depth our gratitude. As inadequate as this may be, all we can really say is "Thank you". Thank you for everything, Rabbi.

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