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Rabbi Joel’s New Message ...

February 2023


Dear Friends, 

It is with bittersweet emotions that I write this, informing you of my intention for this year to be my final one as rabbi of the Roosevelt Island Jewish Congregation.

When I completed my rabbinic training in 2013, I was uncertain as to the eventual path of my rabbinate. Did I want to work as a full-time teacher or professional in the Jewish communal world, or alternatively, should I pursue more freelance or part-time rabbi and educator opportunities? How fortunate I have been to have found the RIJC and to work as a congregational rabbi with our community! It has been my honor, and I have benefited so much - personally as well as professionally – in serving as your spiritual leader. In the future, I am sure that I will continue to teach and maybe even organize a small Jewish community near our home in New Jersey.        

It has been a true blessing to serve such an amazing congregation over the past five years. We have been through a lot together  – B’nai Mitzvah as well as funerals, celebrating Shabbat and the holidays as well as jointly processing (and commiserating over) the state of our city, nation and world. The pandemic has of course impacted all of us tremendously – as individuals and as a community. There were dark times early on in the pandemic, and continued disruptions for quite some time. Together we survived, and I am certain that the RIJC community will continue to flourish as a spiritual home for both our current members and newcomers to the island. I will treasure each memory from my time at the RIJC, and will continue to pray for the health and well being of each of you.

Please do know that I will do all that is in my power to assist in the smooth transition to new rabbinic leadership at the RIJC. Should you need to speak with me on any matter, do not hesitate to reach out to me at (both over the next few months, as well as in the future).

I owe countless “thank yous” to many in our community who have befriended, counseled and assisted me during my tenure at RIJC, and welcomed my family and extended family with open arms. In particular, our president Nina Lublin has been a source of abundant insights, advice, and love since we started working together in 2018. Nina, I can’t say “thank you” enough! It has been such an honor and privilege to work with you! 

This is, of course, “au revoir” rather than “good-bye” as Harriet and I will continue to spend much of our time in New York City. I hope to have opportunities to visit and to, of course, remain in touch with you in the future.


Rabbi Joel Shaiman

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