When Rabbi Jerome Davidson announced his retirement in 2007 as only the third rabbi of Temple Beth-El of Great Neck since its 1928 founding, the future of our synagogue’s clergy leadership was in real doubt. How would we replace such a pre-eminent rabbi with such a storied history at Temple Beth-El?
Did such person even exist?
Well, we found two such people, a married couple who were both rabbis, Rabbi Meir Feldman and Rabbi Tara Feldman. Either one alone would have been exceptional, but together they are a real powerhouse team: thoughtful, brilliant, kind, compassionate, warm and, overall, just special human beings.
Many rabbis are categorized as either intellectuals made for the pulpit or those with warm interpersonal skills. The Feldmans fulfill both categories. Not only are they capable of delivering inspirational and exhilarating sermons, but they also possess warmth, kindness and the ability to create a strong human connection. They have been that friend, therapist and confidant that congregants needed during the most difficult times. For 13 years, the Feldmans continuously, tirelessly and enthusiastically fulfilled those roles.
They are a remarkable team: distinct and unique individuals who are somehow also a continuation and a part of each other.
We are so blessed to have had the Feldmans serve as our spiritual leaders for the past 13 years. The time just flew by. We have watched them grow as rabbis and as parents as their family matured and changed, as their beautiful children, Adina and Gavi, turn into impressive young adults.
I am grateful for their friendship, guidance and love.
I can’t say that I envisioned the first two years of my presidency at Temple Beth-El the way it played out. The Feldmans have certainly made it interesting and unpredictable. But they have also made it unforgettable, and I mean that in a positive way.
The experiences we have shared together as president and rabbis have helped me grow personally and professionally.
The Feldmans do march to the beat of their own drums. They know what is right for them and for their family. Their spontaneity and outside-the-box thinking make them who they are.
It is that spirit that led them from Memphis to Israel to Great Neck and now back to where they truly need to be: Jerusalem.
Anyone who has heard them talk about Israel or has seen them in Israel knows that it possesses the life energy that they need to live, be happy and continue to grow intellectually and spiritually. Israel has a special connection to certain people that is incomprehensible to many of us.
The Feldmans need Israel and Israel needs the Feldmans.
Winston Churchill once said, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
For Meir and Tara, this is not the end. They have so much more to give and so much more to do. They will start their new beginning with strength, promise, excitement and with the knowledge that they leave a congregation and community that will always care for them, love them and support them.
Mazel tov on all that they have done, and I wish them success in all that they have left to do.
Be’hatzlachah! Tizku l’chesed v’mitzvot! I hope that they have success and that they merit good deeds and mitzvahs.
—Gary Slobin, President of Temple Beth-El of Great Neck