The only rabbi Congregation B’nai Israel has known in the 13 years in its current home in Jonesboro is retiring, and the south-side synagogue is celebrating Rabbi Lou Feldstein with a community party Saturday night, Sept. 26.
“He’s very important to all of us,” B’nai Israel President Sharon Hudgins said. “He’ll always be a part of the congregational family.”
Rabbi Feldstein, known to many north of Interstate 20 from his time leading the young-adult outreach organization Atlanta YAD and his service as the chief operating officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, has held the Reform congregation’s pulpit on a part-time basis since 2002. He has led services for High Holidays, simchas and other special occasions, and the occasional Shabbat; Susan Burden has filled the gaps as the congregation’s rabbinic lay leader.
But Rabbi Feldstein has had to commute from north of Atlanta — he’s a member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Dunwoody — and has built an organizational and change management consulting business, Dynamic Change Solutions, which has taken his time and attention the past three years.
So he’s moving to emeritus status in October, and the 89-family congregation is bringing in a part-time rabbi from Washington state, Rabbi Rick Harkavy, who will live in the Fayetteville area.
“It’s just time to have somebody in the community,” Hudgins said. Rabbi Harkavy is due to arrive the first week of October.
But first B’nai Israel is holding its family celebration of Rabbi Feldstein at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, at the synagogue. The party will include heavy hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages, a few words from each of the four congregational presidents who have worked with him, and some surprises Hudgins didn’t want to give away.
“It should be a lovely evening,” she said.
Although the RSVP due date was Sept. 16, Hudgins encouraged anyone who wants to honor Rabbi Feldstein to join the business-casual party and pay the $15 admission at the door.
“He’s just a very important part of our congregational family,” Hudgins said of Rabbi Feldstein, “and through him we’ve been able to survive and grow south of Atlanta.”
What: Celebration of Rabbi Lou Feldstein
Where: Congregation B’nai Torah, 1633 Highway 54 East, Jonesboro
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26
Admission: $15 per person or $50 for a family of four