Rabbi Julia’s Important Announcement – December 22 2022
The following email was sent to the congregation on December 22, 2022:
With love, gratitude, and sadness, we share this letter from our beloved Rabbi Julia Weisz:
To my cherished Congregation Or Ami,
Just a short while ago, with a very heavy heart, I informed Rabbi Paul Kipnes, President Craig Steinhauer, and the Congregation Or Ami Board of Directors that my family needs me, and so I need to end my rabbinic service to this community as of June 30, 2023.
This was not an easy decision. After thirteen wonderful years of educating and nurturing this community, I am heartbroken thinking about the coming transition. As much as I felt called to the rabbinate nearly 20 years ago, and later felt called to serve Congregation Or Ami, I now feel called to spend the foreseeable future focused on spending more time with my own three children and ensuring that they grow to be the mensches – the good, kind human beings – we so desperately need in our world. Despite my sadness, I know that this is the right decision for me and my family.
Each of you in this community – my “family of friends” – has changed my life. You have played an integral part in shaping me as a rabbi, teacher, and human being, and for that I’ll be forever thankful. As one of my favorite texts, Psalm 23, says, “my cup overflows,” and I cannot think of a better way to describe my gratitude. Because of this community, my heart overflows with gratitude. I am a better person for our shared experiences.
I am immensely grateful for my partnership and friendship with Rabbi Paul, who has supported me throughout my career, and continues to support me even now as I make this decision and transition. To our staff and faculty, and the incredible leaders on our current and former Or Ami Boards of Directors: thank you for trusting and partnering with me to build the future of our Jewish people. The students that grace our building every week with their laughing, singing, and learning are a testament to the incredible work we have done together.
I am committed to supporting a smooth transition to facilitate the future successes of Or Ami’s learning programs and social justice work. This is important to me not only because you all mean so much to me, but also because my family and I intend to remain involved as partners at Or Ami.
I love you, Congregation Or Ami, and I have loved being your rabbi. I am confident that our community will go from strength to strength, and I look forward to seeing the continued growth of my second home.
Warmly and with sadness,
Rabbi Julia Weisz
From Rabbi Paul Kipnes and President Craig Steinhauer
While Rabbi Julia’s choice to leave represents an incredible loss to our community, it is a decision we respect and support. Rabbi Julia, her husband David, and their three children intend to remain part of the Or Ami community as partners, and we will fully embrace them as such.
In the coming weeks, we will share our plans to enter the rabbinic search placement process of the Central Conference of American Rabbis to engage a rabbi who will guide our education program. As she notes above, Rabbi Julia remains committed to our future success and is already working with Rabbi Paul and our leadership team to lay the foundation and build the strategy to position Or Ami to move from strength to strength.
What you can do now:
Lead with love: As difficult as this is for us as individuals and a community, let us focus on caring for Rabbi Julia and her family during this period of transition as she has always cared for us. Please share words of support and understanding with Rabbi Julia, without peppering her with questions about “why” or “what about…”
Send notes of kindness: You may send an email or text, brief and loving, without expectation of a response.
Finally, if you feel the need to DO something: When Jews are in joy or pain, they often give tzedakah to further their joy or lessen the pain. On Rabbi Julia’s suggestion, we have created the Or Ami Mental Health and Wellness Fund to raise funds to advance mental health and wellness initiatives for our youth. This has been an area of passion for Rabbi Julia, and it is her desire to see our ability to support youth grow and expand. You may make a donation at orami.org/donate or email our bookkeeper, Lisette Tuohy at firstname.lastname@example.org, to charge your credit card on file.
We are here – Rabbi Paul, Craig, and our entire Board – to answer whatever questions we can, listen as you process this news, and help you hear the echo of God’s love embedded even in these difficult moments.
Warmly and with Sadness,
Rabbi Paul Kipnes
Craig Steinhauer, President