Below is an important message from Rabbi Ohriner followed by a message from CBD’s President, Bill Beyda:
I cherish the moment Michael Leitner, who was serving as the chair of the Rabbinic Search committee, asked me if I would serve as a rabbi of Congregation Beth David. I accepted not knowing how right the decision would be for my family and me. At that time, I had no idea of what a dream come true it would become. For the better part of a decade I have been blessed to serve as your rabbi, and I cherish each and every sacred moment we have shared, all that we have accomplished together, and the amazing growth our community has experienced by virtually any metric.
I have reached a stage in my career where I feel called to pursue a different kind of rabbinate away from the pulpit. Therefore, Summer 2018 will mark the end of my tenure as the rabbi of Congregation Beth David.
The love and gratitude I feel towards you, the CBD community, is immense. I am grateful to you for letting me walk life’s path with you and your families through laughter, joy, tears, and pain. I am grateful for the deep learning, intentional moments, and communal transformation we have worked towards and realized together. I am also grateful to the boards of directors, staff, and volunteers I have been blessed to work with over the past eight years who have all served our community with love, hope, kindness, and dedication. I am particularly grateful to our current leadership and staff who are committed to ensuring CBD’s continued excellence and growth. Perhaps most importantly, I feel so blessed to have found a community my family calls “home”.
I have dedicated my heart, soul, and might to serving our community for close to a decade. It has been the blessing of a lifetime. I am excited to see where our community goes from here and look forward to the unpaved path of my own personal and professional growth, which I deeply look forward to sharing with you as it unfolds.
As I will not be seeking another pulpit at this time, my family and I hope to remain a part of Congregation Beth David. I will be fully present in my rabbinic work as I conclude my tenure. In addition, I will assist in any way I am asked and to the very best of my ability to ensure a successful search and transition to a new rabbi who will continue to build on the successes we have shared.
I look forward to the sacred work we can perform together in the coming months to ensure CBD moves from strength to strength as I conclude my tenure as your rabbi.
With gratitude and love,
Rabbi Philip Ohriner
It is with mixed feelings I write this note to all of you today. As you see from the attached note from Rabbi Ohriner, he is electing not to seek renewal of his contract at the end of its term this summer. In the last eight years Rabbi Ohriner has been a blessing to this congregation, exceeding our expectations and thrilling us with his own special brand of teaching, praying, and pastoral care that have brought all of us so much knowledge, spirituality, joy, and support. So I am deeply saddened that he will no longer be our Rabbi after this summer.
However, I am very happy for him and his family, that he is able to pursue his dreams and do what is important to him, and that we were lucky enough to have him on our Bima these last eight years. I learned of this news only a few days ago, just after the high holidays. Always looking out for others, Rabbi Ohriner chose not to announce this news, even to me, before the high holidays, because he did not want to disturb the spiritual work we have to do during that sacred week.
Now as surprising as the news is, it doesn’t change what I told you in my speech on Kol Nidre, which was also in the Dvar if you missed it that evening. Rabbi Ohriner has led Congregation Beth David to an exciting place where our future is clearly brighter than any of us could have imagined. We just need to find a new Rabbi to help us keep the momentum going and reach the next level. We have done this before. We know how to run a search and pulpit committee, and the Rabbinical Assembly has a detailed process to help congregations find, interview, and select the right candidates. In fact, many of the same leaders of Beth David who helped select Rabbi Ohriner are still active and will help us find another great Rabbi. I remember when I first learned of Rabbi Pressman’s plans for retirement, it was hard to imagine what Beth David would be like without him on the Bima. Yet we found another great Rabbi in Rabbi Ohriner, and I’m confident we will do that again. Along the way, we will keep you informed, and the Congregation will have a chance to see any finalists in action before we conclude this process. But that is for another day, sometime this winter and spring. For now, we need to savor the next several months with Rabbi Ohriner leading us.
With that in mind, I only have one request. I know Rabbi thought long and hard before reaching his decision. While it’s fine to express our disappointment that he will no longer be our Rabbi, let’s try to celebrate that he is following the path most meaningful to him. Let’s realize how lucky we are to still have him and his family in our community, part of our Beth David family. Try not to impose any more “Jewish guilt” on him than he already feels, as you know he would never do that to us. For once, after all these years of him working long hours and putting us first, it’s now our turn to put him first, and help him make this transition in his life as easy as it can be.
You will be hearing more from me in the months ahead as we proceed in our search for a new Rabbi to lead the next chapter in Beth David’s history.
Bill Beyda, President, Congregation Beth David