Dear Temple Emanuel Family,
For the past ten years, Temple Emanuel has been blessed with the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Dean Shapiro. We have studied, prayed and socialized together, celebrated simchas together, and most recently weathered the challenges of COVID-19 together. We have grown together as a congregation through his expertise in social justice and community engagement, program development and Judaic teaching. Now, Rabbi Dean is ready to take on new challenges in his rabbinic career.
Recently, Rabbi Dean shared with the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees that he would like to exercise the opt-out provision in his contract, and not return for the third and final year. This means his contract will end on May 31, 2021. While we will miss him, Haim and Jacob dearly, we understand that in every Rabbi’s career there comes a time to make a change, to take a new step, to explore a new opportunity.
Many of you have been here since Rabbi Dean joined us and remember the detailed process we followed to select him as our rabbi. We now have the opportunity to follow a similar path to choose a spiritual leader who will build on Rabbi Dean’s work, and the work of our rabbis before him, while bringing new ideas to further enrich our strong community. Temple Emanuel is well respected both locally and nationally. Several of our members serve on Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) boards and committees, and we are often recognized for our outstanding programs. We will no doubt be an attractive congregation to many rabbis.
Our first step is to select a Search Committee that represents the broad interests and needs of our congregation. We will work closely with the URJ and Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). They have a detailed and successful process for rabbinic searches that has served us well in the past. I am grateful to Michael Waxman, URJ North American Board Member, Past President of Temple Emanuel and former Rabbinic Search Chair 10 years ago, who will chair the rabbinic search committee to be comprised of a cross-section of our membership.
Below is a personal letter from Rabbi Dean. I encourage you to read it, and to extend to him your appreciation for the gifts he has shared with us.
I promise to keep you informed every step of the way, beginning with sharing the selection committee once the members are identified. I will also be sharing ways we will honor and say goodbye to Rabbi Dean. We are a kehilla kedosha, a holy community. I have no doubt we will continue to be strong and vibrant as we welcome a new rabbi into our community.
President, Board of Trustees
Temple Emanuel of Tempe
This is my tenth year as rabbi of Temple Emanuel. I am writing today to share with you that it will also be my last.
This decade has been filled with deep connections with people. At the synagogue and in your homes, in class, prayer, and private conversation, we have both kibbitzed and shared our souls with one another. We have thrown candy, and thrown earth. I am deeply grateful to have been your rabbi, and to have been invited into your lives so profoundly.
The last two and a half years have been intense and draining. My work has been non-stop, and has elbowed out the other aspects of my life. In order to be a whole, healthy person, I need to reprioritize my life. I need to reconnect with those aspects of the rabbinate which originally inspired me to walk this path. I am grateful for my family’s support, which enables me to have this flexibility, but I am no good to them broken. As I turn 50 and begin preparing myself for the next phase of my life, I realize that I need to make a substantial change.
You may be wondering what’s next for me. We don’t have any plans at this moment, just a few directions we’re exploring. I have not accepted a position at a different synagogue. Nor do we know where we will live. We do not know what the future will hold. I will certainly share that information with the Temple Emanuel community when appropriate.
We have much good work to do together in the coming months. Children are preparing for their b’nei mitzvah, and I will continue to teach 5th and 6th Grade Torah study, and Family Education. I’ll lead services, provide pastoral support, and officiate at funerals and shiva minyanim when called upon. We’ll celebrate Shabbat and holy days together, in whatever manner we’re able. Additionally, we are planning some very worthwhile projects and programs for the coming months, and I am very much looking forward to sharing them with you.
Thank you for allowing me to be your rabbi.