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.

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June 2019 Message from Rabbi Dubin

Dear Friends,

Chazak chazak v’Nitchazek. Be strong, be strong, and we will be strengthened. These words form the quintessential Jewish statement of conclusion. It is said in (Ashkenazic) communities around the world every time we come to the end of another book of Torah. This past Shabbat, being that we concluded the yearly reading of Leviticus, we followed custom and recited these very words of strength.

It’s an interesting phrase for many reasons, among which is the fact that it is comprised of two identical words in the singular followed by a related word in the plural. And so we ask why? Why say the first word twice? And then why move from singular to plural for the third?

As should be a surprise to no one, these straightforward questions have a plethora of suggested answers, but one of the more generally accepted ones, and certainly the one that resonates most fully with me, is summed up by my teacher, colleague, and friend, Naamah Kelman, Dean of the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (and also, by the way, the first woman ever to be ordained as a rabbi in Israel), who writes the following:

“Whenever we finish a book of the Torah in the synagogue’s cycle of readings, those who are present respond immediately with three words: Chazak chazak, v’nitchazek! Be strong, be strong [in the singular] and we will be strong [in the plural].” My late father, Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, taught: Why do we say chazak twice, when once would be enough? It is to tell us that if you and I each are strong, then together we are even stronger. In other words, this is a true “win/win” situation: I need you to be strong so I can be strong too.”

How simple yet profound! How easy, yet also so challenging! And how perfect, because it is true. My strength depends on yours, your strength depends on mine, and together, we will be even stronger when we work in concert with one another. But there is more, at least for the JCNWJ family, because finishing the Book of Leviticus was only one of the reasons we uttered these Jewish words of conclusion recently. The second, and far more personal reason we said them was that this past Shabbat marked the conclusion of Cantor Lazar’s tenure as our leader in song. Beginning this summer, she will be devoting her professional attention to fulfilling her expanding responsibilities as Director of Steve & Kate’s Camp on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Over the time that Cantor Lazar has been with us, she has strengthened our worship and our very souls with the sweet and powerful melodies that resonate from her with the voice of an angel. She has strengthened us through her jovial way with our students and her personable conversations with members of all ages. She has strengthened us with her command of Torah and her deep knowledge of liturgy.

In turn, we, too, have strengthened Cantor Lazar. We have strengthened her with our commitment to maintaining Jewish life in a rather remote setting, with our appreciation of deep prayer and meditation, and perhaps, most of all with our heimishe ways. As a proud New Yorker myself, I have license to say that being able to hold on to a piece of the JCNWJ way of life is valuable beyond description when living day to day in the middle of New York City. My time in Washington is what sustains me in New York, and from having spoken with Cantor Lazar about this, I can say that it is no less the case with her as well.

In the end, we are among the truly blessed because we can say that Cantor Lazar has strengthened us, as is Cantor Lazar, because she can say that we strengthened her. Together we are all blessed because having had the fortune of being together, we have all become even stronger. Best of all, even though Cantor Lazar will no longer be with us in the building, the lessons of love and devotion that we have taught each other will continue to pay dividends for years to come.

We are strong, Cantor Lazar is strong, and together, we have all been strengthened.

Shalom,

Rabbi Dubin

Read past messages on the Past Messages page.

Selected Sermons:

Copyright © 2019 Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey

Last updated: June 9, 2019