Congregation B’nai Israel in Fayetteville is approaching the High Holidays with an empty pulpit after Rabbi Rick Harkavy resigned for personal reasons Thursday, Aug. 25.
Rabbi Harkavy had assumed spiritual leadership of the Reform congregation last October after moving from Seattle for the part-time position. Rabbi Lou Feldstein, a former Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta official, had commuted from the northern suburbs to the south side of Atlanta for 13 years to serve the synagogue.
B’nai Israel President David Rosenberg, who “with great disappointment” announced the resignation by email Aug. 25, was upbeat about the short- and long-term future for the congregation. He said B’nai Israel is working with the Union for Reform Judaism to find rabbinic help, and by the morning of Aug. 29 more than 10 rabbis had inquired about filling in for the High Holidays and for b’nai mitzvah.
The congregation has contacted Rabbi Feldstein for counsel, but it’s too early to know whether he’s a possibility for the pulpit, Rosenberg said. He added that because B’nai Israel has the services of cantorial soloist Susan Burden, the congregation can count on reliable spiritual leadership while deciding what to do next.
“We still want to move forward,” Rosenberg said. “We’re not going to miss a beat.”