October 26, 2006
There’s no business like shul business
Rabbi Moshe Rothblum retires after 35 years on the bimah at Adat Ari El
(Page 2 - Previous Page)When Rothblum hears that people describe him as "accessible," he smiles.
"Good, that's important," he said. "I always wanted to be accessible. The problem is that I'm a very shy person."
When Rothblum was still an associate rabbi, the temple's executive director told him one day that people perceived him as aloof. "Shaken" by the news, Rothblum started making a conscious effort to say "hello" to whomever he passed.
"Now, it's become second nature," Rothblum said.
Senior Cantor Ira Bigeleisen said Rothblum "knows how to love." Whenever he and the rabbi officiate at a funeral, Bigeleisen keeps his emotions at bay.
But "Moshe lives the moment with them," Bigeleisen said. "He cries with them."
Lana Marcus, head of Adat Ari El's day school, recalls that when she gave birth to twins, her colleagues told her that Rothblum was dancing around the office. "I always felt like he was rooting for me," she said.
Rothblum cites the establishment of the Labowe Family Day School as one of his major accomplishments. The school, which opened in 1979, has attracted young couples to the synagogue and managed to keep them actively engaged for the long term.
Rothblum wishes he could have been as successful at getting members to be more observant -- to keep kosher, celebrate Shabbat and come to synagogue.
One of the major challenges he sees for the future is the Conservative movement's need to redefine itself. As the Reform and Orthodox denominations gain popularity, Conservatives will need to answer, "Who are we in the middle?" he said.
As for Rothblum's future, he has no specific plans.
"You know the old joke," Rothblum said. "A person retires, and someone says, 'So, what do you do now that you've retired?' And he says, 'Monday through Friday, I do nothing. And Saturday and Sunday, I rest.'"
"At this point," Rothblum said, "I need to be in a situation where I can do nothing and rest."
Rabbi Rothblum will be honored at Adat Ari El on Saturday Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. Advance tickets are required. $250 (per person).
For more information, contact Joanne Klein, executive director of Adat Ari El at (818) 766-9426 ext. 202.
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