Honoring the Past, Looking Forward to the Future by Rabbi Asher Knight

Rabbi Knight Casual1 for webIn my visits to Temple Beth El over the past few months, I have heard the most inspiring and touching stories about the impact that Rabbi Schindler has had in the lives of congregants and with the broader Charlotte community. Indeed, Rabbi Schindler is an exceptional preacher and teacher. She has boundless energy. I have heard poignant stories about Rabbi Schindler coming to the hospital when someone was sick and comforting people in their homes after a loved one died. She has danced the hora at weddings and welcomed babies into the covenant. She has shaped Temple Beth El by encouraging us to ignite the Jewish spark within our souls. Rabbi Judy has modeled the possibility of powerful faith partnerships of advocacy and action. I am deeply inspired by her rabbinate because she lives by the Jewish principle that transformed lives can transform the world.

Following Rabbi Schindler as senior rabbi will not be an easy task! I have always admired Rabbi Schindler from afar. The draw for me to apply for the position and the decision to come to Temple Beth El and move my family to Charlotte was precisely because of the clergy team, staff, and lay leaders that Rabbi Schindler has shaped. My rabbinate has benefited from many rabbinic mentors and friends.  I feel extremely fortunate to have a colleague like Rabbi Judy to be my teacher, cultural translator, confidant, friend, and Emerita Rabbi.

Yes, her role in our community will be different. Her new position at Queens is incredibly exciting. It will give her a platform to impact lives and change our world. She will continue to inspire us and encourage our community towards Tikkun Olam – world repair. We will be proud as she represents us as Temple Beth El’s Rabbi Emerita. Yes, when called upon and available, she will teach, preach, officiate lifecycles, and offer pastoral care.  She will always do so as our Rabbi Emerita. Yes, the choices I will make as Senior Rabbi may be different than hers. Rabbi Judy will, as she has already done, offer exceptional counsel and advice. She will support the congregation’s evolving vision as we confront new challenges and walk towards the golden opportunities of tomorrow.

As your new Senior Rabbi, I will strive to uphold the standards set by Rabbi Schindler and all of the generations who have made Temple Beth El a place of meaning and hope. We will continue to invite people into a congregational community of warm welcome, meaning, and substance. We will aim to make prayer dynamic and uplifting, study challenging and relevant, justice a spiritual act, and caring a daily reality. We will continue to explore how to make a large congregation feel intimate through a relational Judaism that engages our members in small circles of study, prayer, meditation, movement, social justice, and fellowship.  I look forward to meeting you soon. I thank Rabbi Judy for her years of service and dedication to our congregation. And I look forward to learning from her and counting upon her in the years ahead.

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