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25 years for Rabbi Meyer at Emanu-El

Journal Publisher/Editor

Rabbi David Meyer in 1992

After 25 years at Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead, it’s not hard to find congregants with rich and heartfelt stories that they’re eager to share about Rabbi David Meyer:

“When a Junior Rabbi decides to test the market and seek a senior role, he doesn’t usually share that information with his congregation. He does, however, share it with his golf partner! And so, when Rabbi Meyer (then in San Francisco) was exploring an opportunity across the country in Marblehead, Massachusetts, he told his golf buddy, Rob, all about it. Of course, Rob knew all about Temple Emanu-El. As coincidence would have it, he grew up in Marblehead and was married at Temple Emanu-El. He also graduated Marblehead High School with both Larry and me. As a result, we received advance notification of the incredible rabbi that was about join Temple Emanu-El and with Rob’s testimonial, welcomed him as an old friend.”

– Ina-Lee

Some might mistakenly conflate Rabbi Meyer’s twenty-fifth anniversary with retirement being on his mind, but that would be a mistake. “This is not a farewell celebration, fortunately,” he emphasized. “I’m not yet a point of being ready to retire from the active pulpit.” In fact, Rabbi Meyer sees this moment as one in which his energy is high. “For me, to have the chance to recreate in many ways how the synagogue operates, to re-imagine my own rabbinate, particularly over the last eight or nine years, has really invigorated me in a way that I don’t know that many rabbis that have been at it for this long can really experience.”

Despite his exuberance for his work, some of the feedback from fans of the rabbi might make him feel old:

“I remember when Rabbi Meyer joined our Temple. I was in third grade and was immediately struck by his warmth and energy. By the time my Bat Mitzvah arrived, I felt like Rabbi Meyer knew me well. He guided me and my family through this meaningful event, then did the same for my brother’s Bar Mitzvah three years later. He personalized our ceremonies in ways that only someone who is truly connected can… Now, I am thrilled to serve alongside Rabbi Meyer on the Temple’s Board of Trustees, where he continues to encourage my leadership skills and influence my involvement in Jewish life.”

– Katie

Other feedback is more recent but powerful, nevertheless:

“As a tattooed, colored-hair, non-practicing Jewish single parent, I was apprehensive to make that first call to Temple Emanu-El. When I did, I received a call from Rabbi Meyer and he and I decided to meet. It’s been four-and-a-half years since that first call. Thank you, Rabbi Meyer! My daughter and I are so proud to be a part of Temple Emanu-El.”

– Erin

Rabbi David Meyer of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead (above) has made creative organizational changes to revitalize the synagogue.

This is a period in which synagogues are reevaluating their approaches, and Temple Emanue-El has been at the forefront of innovation – a challenge demanded by the times. Rabbi Meyer sees this process as part of the joy of his work. “There have been new approaches, new people coming in, and a growth in membership over these past years that really have given me a sense of continued vitality,” said the rabbi. He’s also injected music more heavily over recent years, something that excites him, to bond the community:

“When my daughter was first diagnosed with childhood leukemia, Rabbi Meyer almost immediately came to visit her at Children’s Hospital in Boston, with his guitar in tow. He sat at her bedside, played his guitar to help cheer her up, and offer blessings for healing. Fast forward a couple of years and he was there again to help our family celebrate her end of treatment with a healing prayer at Shabbat services. I’ve always believed that Rabbi Meyer’s blessings and care for our whole family played an extra special role in Sarah’s recovery.”

– Ann

While Rabbi Meyer isn’t in a hurry to retire, he is concerned that he not forget to look in the mirror to make sure he still fits in his current role. “I am conscious that rabbis sometimes wait a little bit too long before deciding to take their lives in a new direction, so I’m trusting in both my leadership, my family and my own gut to guide me in making the right choice.”

“In his 25 years at the helm of Temple Emanu-El, Rabbi Meyer has been a mensch to our synagogue and our community and, in the last 15 of those years, there for me every step of the way in my journey from spiritually homeless seeker to prideful Jew by choice.”

– Ginny

Apparently, Rabbi Meyer can be fun to hang out with, too.

“While attending a seminar in Chicago, Rabbi Meyer joined my husband Ted and I for dinner at favorite spot; when his drink order signaled that my martini would be in good company, the Rabbi became David, a funny, warm and delicious apple butter making friend.”

– Allison

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