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.
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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April 2018 Message from Rabbi Dubin
Midway through the seder, I pointed to a less traditional food on the table and asked, “Who knows why the orange is here?” A few of our parents knew the familiar story of Susannah Heschel, Professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College (and daughter of the late great Abraham Joshua Heschel). As the story goes, when she was presenting on Jewish Feminism to an audience in Miami Beach, a man yelled out, “A woman has as much of a place in the rabbinate as an orange has on the seder plate!” Because of this, Professor Heschel decided to place an orange on her seder plate at the next Passover. Through word of mouth, the practice spread, and has now become a common seder practice in liberal Jewish homes.
It’s a great and inspiring story. The only problem is that it also never actually happened, which is why I then proceeded to correct them and tell the actual story. Rather than Heschel presenting on Jewish Feminism in Miami Beach, it was actually a notoriously antihomosexual rabbi who was talking to a Hillel audience when representatives of a campus lesbian advocacy group demanded to know from him what place lesbians should have in Jewish life. His answer was that “Lesbians have as much place in Jewish life as an orange has on the seder plate.” And so, from that anti-lesbian comment was born the modern tradition of placing an orange on the seder plate, to be in solidarity with our lesbian sisters.
No one at our Sunday School seder had heard this story before, so I was happy for the opportunity to set the record straight. And they were happy to learn the real story.
And then something completely unexpected happened…
A day or two after the seder, as I was doing some personal research on an unrelated Passover topic, I came across an The Forward by Susannah Heschel from 2013. After reading it, I sat there jaw-dropped and embarrassed. I’d like to share with you what she wrote, and in the process acknowledge publically that I didn’t get the story right either.
Passover was high drama in my childhood. Preparations began weeks in advance, with meticulous scrubbing, shopping and organizing. Strong emotions came out in the days before the holiday, when every crumb of hametz had to be removed, and we had to tread very carefully. One mistake could bring calamity. When we finally sat down for the Seder, my mother would always claim that only women understood the Exodus, having slaved away in the kitchen for weeks and then been finally liberated when the holiday began, but too exhausted to enjoy it.I share Professor Heschel’s correction of my misrepresentation of history not only because hers is an interesting and inspiring story from which we can all learn, but because during this season of Passover, especially, it is my prayer that each of us will strive to do all we can to liberate those who are marginalized from the periphery of life. As we celebrate our own exodus from slavery and subjugation this week, we do so with an appreciation that had we not taken such great pains to support and look after one another during our escape 3300 years ago (according to the biblical story), some of us on the more “invisible” side of society inevitably would have gone unnoticed and been left behind. This Passover, and every Passover, let us commit ourselves to freeing every last one of us from the lonely and awkward periphery of life. Let no one’s story ever again be forgotten, stolen, or misattributed.
Together, we can do it. But only if we do it together.
Chag Pesach Sameach,
Copyright © 2018 Jewish Center of Northwest Jersey
Last updated: April 11, 2018
Last updated: April 11, 2018