Clergy’s Blog

Notes from Cantor Neil…


June, 2022

It is time for me to retire, after a 42-year career in seven synagogues. The last three of these positions have been in the role of Spiritual Leader here at Temple Emanu-El. Thank you to y’all for a fruitful three-year conclusion to a very long career, and for all that you have taught me about serving a Reform community.

Here at Temple Emanu-El, the Position of Spiritual Leader has included many roles. Besides the obvious role of leading Shabbat services, there have been many teaching opportunities, including B’nei Mitzvah students, weekly Torah Study, adult education classes, conversion education, and Interfaith education. Roles in the religious school included classroom teaching, music, and tutoring.

During the pandemic, much of this took place online, which necessitated learning new computer skills to communicate via Zoom and other online vehicles. Thanks are due to national leaders of the Reform Movement for education in these new skills, and locally to Stephanie Butler for “step-by-step” guides on implementing these new skills to meet our needs for online communication.

Chaplaincy skills were used during hospital and home-bound visits, and during preparation for funerals and unveiling ceremonies. Interfaith activity has been a wonderful aspect of life in Dothan, and our Jewish community is well-respected.

It has been a privilege to serve this community and to facilitate your life-cycle events. These have created memories which have enriched everyone involved.

Temple Emanu-El and the Dothan community are my home, and I plan to remain living in my house and staying simply as a member of our Temple. There is a national consensus among churches and synagogues that when a religious leader retires, he or she does not remain involved with their religious institution for a year after retirement. This is to allow the new religious leader to establish her or his own presence, without influence from a predecessor.

The experience of serving Temple Emanu-El has brought many new aspects of how best to serve a long-standing Jewish community. Hopefully, there are some aspects of your lives which have been affected positively during these last three years.

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey! At the end of June, this is now a “goodbye” until summer of 2023, with the hope that individual friendships can be maintained meanwhile.