Rabbi Priesand and MRT

I came to Monmouth Reform Temple in August of 1981 and much to everyone’s surprise I am still here! As the first woman ever to be ordained rabbi by a theological seminary, I always assumed it was my obligation to become the rabbi of a large congregation in a major American city, but the members of Monmouth Reform Temple taught me that success does not mean bigger. It simply means are we doing better today than we did yesterday?

I was attracted to Monmouth Reform Temple and remained its rabbi for twenty-five years because its members were warm and welcoming, open to new ideas and unafraid of new challenges. They allowed me to be myself, to experiment and be creative, and they were willing to take responsibility for their own Jewishness, one mitzvah at a time. Together we created a temple family based on caring and concern for each other.. From week to week we looked forward to Shabbat and the opportunity to re-connect with God, our people and each other. We embraced the command to study Torah, and most importantly, provided a Jewish presence in our community, joining with others in the task of tikkun olam (repairing the world).

All these characteristics remain at the core of Monmouth Reform Temple today. In 2006, I retired and was honored to be given by the temple the title Rabbi Emerita. I continue to be involved, and on Shabbat I enjoy the view from the pew. I look forward to welcoming you at services, and when you enter the sanctuary, I hope you will note the doors that were dedicated in my honor on the occasion of my retirement. They bear the inscription

פִּתְחוּ לִי שַׁעֲרֵי צֶדֶק אָבֹא בָם אוֹדֶה יָהּ

Open the gates of righteousness for me that I may enter and praise God.

Whenever I go through these doors, I remember that we are partners with God in completing the work of creation. I am grateful for the sense of belonging I feel within these walls, for friendships made here and those yet to be, and for my temple family without whom my life would never be the same.