Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey

The Rabbi's Page

The spiritual leader of a Jewish congregation is its rabbi. Our temple's rabbi also serves as principal of our Hebrew School, the Mike Weiner School of Jewish Learning, and conducts the Rabbi's Class as part of the temple's Adult Education program.

Rabbi Dr. Andy Dubin came to the JCNWJ in July, 2015, succeeding Rabbi Mary Zamore came to the JCNWJ in July, 2013, who in turn had succeeded Rabbi Emerita Ellen J. Lewis who served for 19 years.

After graduating from Amherst College in 1988, Rabbi Dr. Dubin embarked on a 20-year career in the field of education during which he taught religious studies at some of America's most demanding high schools, including St. Paul's (NH), Northfield Mount Hermon (MA), Trinity (NYC), and Exeter (NH). As well, Rabbi Dr. Dubin served as Dean of Students at two of the nation's finest pluralistic Jewish Schools: Gann Academy (MA) and American Hebrew Academy (NC). Over the years he also spent four summers as a Head-of-Tour for NFTY in Israel, which led to a position at the Union for Reform Judaism as Director of College Education and Founding Director of the Meitav Fellowship for Teen Leadership.

Rabbi Dr. Andy Dubin
Photo courtesy NJJN

Throughout his years of teaching, Rabbi Dr. Dubin never stopped pursuing his own studies too, which led to a master's degree in 1992 and a doctorate in 2008, both from the Department of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages of The Jewish Theological Seminary.

A 2014 ordinee of Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Dr. Dubin purposefully constructed a varied a student pulpit experience during his three years of training in New York., serving as Student Rabbi for Temple B'nai Israel (Albany, GA), Pastoral Care Intern for DOROT (NYC), Rabbinic Intern for Woodlands Community Temple (Greenburgh, NY), Religious School Principal and Rabbinic Intern for Union Temple (Brooklyn, NY), Student Chaplain at Weil Cornell Hospital (NYC), and Student Rabbi for Temple Beth HaSholom (Williamsport, PA).

Since 2013, Rabbi Dr. Dubin has been serving as the part-time Director of Hebrew Home Study and Adult Learning at Manhattan's Metropolitan Synagogue (a position he will continue to occupy, so long as his schedule at JCNWJ permits). Rabbi Dr. Dubin also teaches privately and officiates major life-cycle events.

A native New Yorker, Rabbi Dr. Dubin lives in Manhattan with his wife, Nancy (Cantor Nancy Dubin (Temple Am Echad, Lynbrook, New York) and their four children, Shira, Liron, Noa, and Ari.

The "Rabbi's Message" appears in every issue of the JOURNAL, the newsletter of the JCNWJ. The most recent message appears below; past messages are also available. Selected sermons are also provided below.

E-mail Rabbi Dubin


June 2018 Message from Rabbi Dubin

Dear Friends,
Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote in his 1955 book, The Insecurity of Freedom:

“At all religious schools, pupils are taught the benediction to be said before drinking a beverage. It is taught as a custom, a practice. But how many teachers attempt to convey the grand mystery and spiritual profundity contained in these three Hebrew words: shehakol neheyah bidvaro, meaning, ‘Everything came into being by God’s word’? It is unfair and unfortunate that we ignore, withhold, or fail to communicate the spiritual substance of our tradition.

The Hebrew term for education (hinukh) means not only to train, but also to dedicate, to consecrate. And to consecrate the child must be our goal, difficult as it may be. The survival of the Jewish people is our basic concern. But what kind of survival, we must continually ask, and for what purpose?”

I am proud to say that when it comes to the sacred work we do at the Mike Weiner School of Jewish Learning, Heschel’s concerns need not worry us, because what we do on a weekly basis is precisely what he calls us to do. While our children do, of course, learn prayers and Torah and music and history and Hebrew, simply conveying this knowledge for the sake of knowledge is hardly our goal. The reason we spend so much time and effort sharing this Jewish knowledge is that we see it as a set of tools that is able to “communicate the spiritual substance of our tradition.”

The truth, however, is that we go even a step further than what Heschel advocates, because not only do we communicate the spiritual substance, and not only do we engage in the active process of consecrating our children, but we actually do something that I believe is even more important. We help our young people claim ownership over their own Jewish selves. Our ambition is for them to develop the tools necessary, so they will grow into committed Jews who are able and eager to make the active and personal choice to apply the spiritual substance of our tradition to their own unique circumstances and thereby come to live lives that truly are worthy of being called “sacred.”

To be clear, Judaism does not enjoy the single exclusive map to goodness. There are many worthy paths to righteousness, some are based in faith, and some are not. On the other hand, I also know that we, as Jews, are the beneficiary of a sacred tradition that is profoundly capable of leading us to make our world a better place.

It has been the profound honor of our entire teaching team to focus our students at every opportunity on the treasure trove that is “Jewish Values.” What follows is just a small sampling of the principles we have discussed over the course of 5778. You will notice that I list them in alphabetical order. This is because I find it next to impossible to prioritize one over the others. In order for us to live the best Jewish lives we can, every single value is “the most important.”

Ahavat ha-Shem – Love of God
Ahavat Re’a – Love of Neighbor
Ahavat Yisrael - Love of the Jewish people
Anava – Humility
Chinuch – Education and study
Emet – Truth
Gemilut Hasadim – Kindness/compassion
Hakhnasat Orhim – Welcoming guests/strangers
Herut – Freedom
Kavod – Respect
Kedusha – Holiness
Kehillah –Community
Limmud ha-Torah – Study of Torah
Menschlicheit – Decency toward others
Ometz Lev – Courage
Rahamanut – Compassion
Shalom – Peace
Pikuah Nefesh – Sanctity of life
Shalom Bayit – Peace in the home
Shemirat Lashon – Sanctity of language
Tikkun Olam – Improving the world
Tikvah – Hope
T’fillah – Sanctity through prayer and ritual
Tzedakah – Justice/responsibility
Zikaron – Remembrance

This is just a portion of the Jewish values that we have helped the young people of our congregation consider, learn, and internalize over the course of this year. There are more. Too many, in fact, to offer a complete list here. Our tradition is just that rich.

It is my honor in this most public of forums, to recognize and thank everyone who has made our year so fruitful. As with the values mentioned above, I will list our team of educators in alphabetical order, because this has been a full team effort. No one person has been more important than any other. In addition, though it is true that some have shared expertise in particular areas, such as Hebrew or music or crafts or administrative coordination, the fact is that so many do so much that it is nearly impossible to narrow down what we teach to just one or two things. What is true, however, is that our entire team has been dedicated to the same ultimate goal, which is to grow Jews who will have the capacity and inclination to live lives of sacred goodness. And so, I offer the names of our Mike Weiner School of Jewish Learning 5778 team of educators (and I mean “educators” in every sense of the word), without whose efforts we would be a lesser community:

Marci Braunstein
Tyler Braunstein
Shira Dubin
Debbie Fesinstine
Jill Fesinstine
Sofia Goldfarb
Walker Heller
Deb KalisherCantor Lazar
Suzi Marr
Hannah Perfetti
Adam Tucker

In addition, it is my honor to include Ashley Braunstein, Emma Kahan, and Molly Kahan, each of whom has transitioned over the past few weeks from “student” to “madricha” (teaching assistant) after becoming Bat Mitzvah. Their transitions have been seamless, and we are grateful for the added passion they bring to our school.

And finally, I would be remiss were I not to recognize our entire parent body, without whose ongoing support our school could not function. You are appreciated.

As we begin to plan for next year, we do so with excitement and anticipation and gratitude for the opportunity to serve the next generation.

Rabbi Dubin

Selected Sermons:

Copyright © 2018 Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey

Last updated: June 10, 2018