Studying, teaching, family pursuits top rabbis’ post-retirement wishes

Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief

Top Row (left to right): Rabbi Noah Arnow, Rabbi Amy Feder, Rabbi Andrea Goldstein and Rabbi Garth Silberstein Second Row: Rabbi Seth Gordon, Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh, Rabbi Carnie Rose and Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg.

What are you looking forward to when you retire from the rabbinate? That’s the question we posed to several St. Louis area rabbis. Here’s what they told us:

Rabbi Noah Arnow, Kol Rinah, age 41: 

Although retirement feels rather distant right now, I can imagine being interested in still teaching a class on the weekly Torah portion and leading davening (being the prayer leader, or shaliach tzibbur). They are roles that come without a lot of other responsibility, which I think in my retirement I’ll be relieved to leave to others. Days filled with some exercise, good food, reading, conversation with close friends, time with family, learning something new (piano, math, another language?), along with some time for extended travel all sound delightful.

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Rabbi Amy Feder, Congregation Temple Israel, 42: 

I’ve got quite a while until my retirement, but Rabbi Michael (Alper, her husband) and I have always dreamed of moving to Israel when we retire. We’ve also thought about how fun it would be to run a Jewish retreat center (which is probably more of a second career than a retirement) and raise alpacas, and we were going to call ourselves the Alpaca Rebbes. Last but not least, one of the things I loved doing most before I became a rabbi was teaching voice lessons, so I would love to go back to doing that when I retire.

Rabbi Andrea Goldstein, Congregation Shaare Emeth, 50: 

After retirement from daily congregational life (please God I should live and be well), I have often thought about writing. Perhaps fiction or perhaps short nonfiction essays. I am also currently enrolled in a doctor of ministry program, which I hope to complete in 2卦 years. I am enjoying everything I am learning and experiencing through the program and can sometimes see myself becoming involved in counseling and pastoral care, especially with the aging population in the community.

Rabbi Seth Gordon, Traditional Congregation, 63: 

I am still some years away from retirement but, for as long as I can remember, my soul has yearned to live in the same land that long ago God promised to our people. I very much want to return there, to join the generations of courageous Jews who have built such an amazing, albeit imperfect, society. That two of my five children have made aliyah and that two of my seven (so far) grandchildren are now taking root there, adds much joy to that dream. I long to share Shabbat and holy days with them and hope to welcome my U.S. children and grandchildren for Pesach and Sukkot and/or summer vacations. I also imagine myself continuing to write and teach Torah and Jewish history via Zoom and hope to prepare and distribute homemade healthy lunches to the poor/homeless once a week. I look forward to sampling a wide range of kosher food, davening with the faithful at shul, learning from scholars and travel.

Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh, Temple Emanuel, 54: 

A couple of years ago, I began to think about preparing for retirement. My husband and I began bridge and golf lessons. He already played, but lessons always help. We will spend time in Colorado, where we love to ski and have started to enjoy the many gifts that summer brings, as well as Australia, where (my husband’s) family resides. Travel is only a dream in this age of a pandemic, but as Jewish people, we know the power of hope. My other dream is to write. I hope it doesn’t take a retirement to begin, though. I have always been an avid reader and look forward to more of that.

Rabbi Carnie Rose, Congregation B’nai Amoona, 54: 

Retire? Me? Never! Maybe just a conscious shift from the retail end of the business to the wholesale … a move from sage on the stage to a guide on the side … from mouthpiece to mentor, guiding younger rabbis and spiritual seekers, sharing the accumulated knowledge and experience I have gathered over the years. Lots of writing and teaching and time davening and meditating for long periods of time.

Rabbi Garth Silberstein, Congregation Bais Abraham, 41:

If I ever manage to retire, I hope it will enable me to make more time for studying Torah as well as for DIY domestic pursuits like beekeeping, gardening and raising chickens. Other retirement dreams include starting a theater company dedicated to creating experimental performances based on biblical and rabbinic texts, and touring the country by bicycle.

Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg, United Hebrew Congregation, 45: 

I am not sure that I’ve ever thought about what I would do when I retire except retire – fully. The only other thing that I think about is that when I retire, I plan to “annoy” my kids, meaning wherever they are living, I will be visiting often. One of the things I have appreciated about St. Louis is how connected families are. There are generations of families who are here, and this often means that large extended families know each other and often celebrate together (I am including cousins, great aunts and uncles, etc.). We live away from family, and I want to make sure that my kids and any future generations that may be will be connected to one another, whether they live in the same city or not. Therefore, (my husband) Lee and I will be visiting often and bringing them all together often.