Rabbi Andy Bachman announced today that he will step down as Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim to pursue service outside the Jewish community.
In a statement posted to his personal website, Bachman, 51, thanked the Brooklyn congregation for his three terms as their rabbi, adding that he would not be seeking a fourth contractual renewal after his current one ends on June 30, 2015.
Bachman will be focusing on the issues of poverty, hunger, homelessness, education, and violence that “remain central to my own concerns as a citizen of New York,” by serving broader communities in need.
“Much thinking has gone into this decision, taking me back reflectively over a lifetime of service since my youth in Wisconsin, through college, on to rabbinical school and into the pulpit,” he wrote. “At a critical stage in my life, at age 20, I made the decision to focus specifically on Jewish service. Inspired by my own great-grandparents commitment to Tradition and Israel, I found particular meaning in the centuries of Jewish texts and wisdom that animate our moral and ethical life as a people. “
“I am enormously proud of our achievements together at CBE and grateful to the Congregation and its members for the opportunity to serve and share my vision for Jewish life in the 21st century,” he added.
Those accomplishments, underlined in a comprehensive list, included the community’s response to Hurricane Sandy, writing a new Torah scroll in honor of the communitiy’s 150th anniversary, and growing synagogue membership from 500 to more than 1,000 families.
Bachman cited the Central Conference of American Rabbis guidelines, which require that synagogues undergo a 15-18 month search process, as the reason for the timing of his announcement.
Anne Cohen is the Forward’s deputy digital media editor. When she’s not looking for the secret Jewish history of Voodoo in New Orleans, or making lists about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she writes for The Assimilator. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism with an M.S. magazine concentration in 2012.