Beth Israel Rabbi Greenberg announces departure from New Orleans

Beth Israel in Metairie announced on Oct. 8 that Rabbi Gabriel Greenberg has requested that his contract not be renewed when it concludes on June 30.

Beth Israel President Lee Kansas said Greenberg “has become more than merely our congregation’s rabbi; he’s become a friend, spiritual guide, teacher, community leader and so much more.”

Greenberg said the decision came “after lengthy conversations with Abby and family, and deep introspection and prayer.”

He said while the “difficult decision” is “ultimately the correct one for our family, that does not mean it doesn’t bring with it strong emotions and sadness.”

Greenberg was hired to succeed Rabbi Uri Topolosky in 2013, but Greenberg still had a year of commitment as rabbi and senior Jewish educator at Hillel at the University of California at Berkeley. The congregation selected Greenberg knowing they would have to wait for a year, and in the summer of 2014 the Greenbergs moved to New Orleans.

“It has been a true honor, and a deep pleasure, to serve as rabbi of Beth Israel, and I will forever treasure all of the relationships that I have formed during our time here,” he said in an Oct. 9 letter to the congregation. “We have danced together at weddings, cried at funerals, learned much Torah together, and empowered our children to grow as Jews and people.”

Being in New Orleans also meant that Greenberg was able to make his television debut, playing a rabbi on an episode of “NCIS: New Orleans” in 2014.

The congregation has its annual meeting and elections on Oct. 14. Kansas urged input from the membership as a search committee is formed to find Greenberg’s successor. “We all have important parts to play and know everyone will rise to the challenge.”