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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February 2019 Message from Rabbi Dubin

Dear Friends,

Because Exodus 12:1-2 (And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.") marks the very first commandment placed upon the Children of Israel as a full nation, the obligation to establish a proper calendar – which delineates exactly when the first month of the year begins – seems to take clear pride of place. In order to make sure this happens, we need to have a reliable system of calculation.

The first day of every lunar month, which we call rosh hodesh (the “new moon”), is the day on which the moon moves from being entirely invisible to being just barely visible. The yearly cycle of one rosh hodesh to the next takes just over 29˝ days to complete, which results in the lunar year being roughly eleven days shorter than a solar year.

This discrepancy matters because the Jewish calendar is based on a biblically mandated lunar cycle. Were the solar calendar to be ignored entirely, holidays that are seasonally dependent would more often than not fall at illogical times of the year. The solution came in the form of a 19-year “Metonic” cycle (named after the 5th Century BCE Greek mathematician Meton of Athens), which introduced one additional month to seven out of every nineteen years. This combined luni-solar cycle managed to keep seasonal holidays at their prescribed seasons while also adhering to the strict requirements of biblical calendaring.

The name of this additional month that is added seven times over 19 years is Adar Bet (not surprisingly, it follows Adar Aleph). While the holiday of Purim usually falls on the 14th day of the month of Adar, the Mishnah instructs that when we add Adar Bet, we have to wait until the 14th day of that additional month to celebrate. This year, 5779, is one of those years in the Metonic cycle when we add Adar Bet. In other words, beginning with rosh hodesh Adar Aleph (Monday evening, February 4 – Tuesday evening, February 5), we will then have an entire month with no major holiday. So we ask, “Given the lack of holidays, how will we find holiness during this month of mundanity?”

On this question, I am reminded of what the early 20th Century French composer, Claude Debussy (who, while not Jewish himself, was married for the last ten years of his life to Emma Bardac, a French singer of Jewish descent) is quoted to have said: “Music is the space between the notes.”

Sometimes the best way to experience holiness is to make the very most of those moments that come between the major mileposts of life. As important as the holy days of our calendar truly are, the reality of it is that the overwhelming majority of life is lived on the other days, the days that are not accorded special status. Yet these days are of crucial importance, because in order to absorb fully the lessons of our holidays, sometimes we need a little extra time to let them soak in and influence our behavior. Sometimes we need time to reflect, consider, and figure out how best to navigate our lives in a way that truly honors the call for holiness.

So as we enter this month of no-holidays, I encourage us all to take advantage of the silence. Let us make use of Adar Aleph to seek out daily opportunities for reflection and connection. Let us strengthen our relationships with each other and with God. Let us make special effort to join together for Shabbat services at JCNWJ – and for the Sunday Sabbath service for which we will be joining our friends at Mt. Pisgah AME Church on Sunday morning, February 17. Most of all, let us take advantage of the space between the notes this month in order to hear the music, experience the music, and create the music of holiness.

Wishing you all a happy and meaningful Adar Aleph,

Rabbi Dubin

Read past messages on the Past Messages page.

Selected Sermons:

Copyright © 2019 Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey

Last updated: February 10, 2019