June 18, 2019 •
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TBA President Bruce Greene – March 30, 2019 Remarks Honoring Rabbi Kulwin

TBA President Bruce Greene – March 30, 2019 Remarks Honoring Rabbi Kulwin

Good evening and welcome to all of you.

I am honored, this evening to acknowledge the presence of a number of special guests:

Three of Rabbi Kulwin’s closest colleagues:
Rabbi Elyse Frishman
Rabbi Daniel Freelander
Rabbi Daniel Cohen

Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy

Representative Mikie Sherrill

Representative Tom Malinowski

George Helmy, Chief of Staff to Governor Murphy

NJ State Assemblyman John McKeon

Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill, President of the Board of Freeholders

Essex County Freeholder Pat Sebold

Livingston Mayor Al Anthony and the entire council:

Rudy Fernandez

Shawn Klein

Edward Meinhardt

Michael Vieira

Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson

Montclair Town Council Member William Hurlock

Many thanks to Sisterhood— The Women’s Connection for sponsoring the wonderful reception last night prior to Shabbat Services.  We are most grateful to them.

The invitation to this event asks us to join together to celebrate Rabbi Kulwin as he moves on to his next chapter.  The verb “moves” strikes me as appropriate.  Can any of us remember Rabbi Kulwin standing still?

Moving, progressing, energizing, achieving, leading.  Rabbi, these things you do every day.  For twenty years, you have brought an incredibly positive energy to your professional life here at Temple B’nai Abraham.  That leaves a great legacy.  You brought purpose and meaning to your time here and it matters … your impact will last well beyond the dates of your tenure.

Rabbi Kulwin and I share a love for Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  Dr. Frankl was a famous psychoanalyst, a disciple of Freud.  The book describes Frankl’s experiences while imprisoned at Auschwitz and the insights he gained about what drove some prisoners to strive to stay alive.  Frankl, who wrote the book shortly after being liberated, concluded that meaning, a sense of purpose, makes life worth living and holding on to.  Rabbi, you help to bring that meaning to us.

It is very difficult to summarize our rabbi’s impact.  Context might help.  As many of us know, Rabbi Kulwin is only the fourth senior rabbi of Temple B’nai Abraham in the last 117 years.  Each of your predecessors was the right rabbi for this synagogue in his time.  I’d imagine it was daunting, 20 years ago, to look at that record and take this position.  Rabbi, you more than succeeded.  You have continued and enhanced this synagogue’s important place in the Jewish community, locally, nationally, and internationally.

Rabbi, you have been important to us, your congregation, in a great many ways.  You have been our prayer leader, our comforter, our teacher, our tour guide in Israel and elsewhere, our friend, and so much more.

My family and I, like many of you and your families, have truly had our lives enhanced and blessed by Rabbi Kulwin.  He has married us and our children.  He has been at our children’s B’nai Mitzvah, where he always comes up with just the right words to say to inspire and bless them.  He has been there for us at times of illness and loss.

Rabbi: You comforted us.  You supported us.  You care about us.  We thank you.

The symbolism of numbers is important in Judaism.  I took a look at the list of spiritual leaders of Temple B’nai Abraham since the synagogue’s founding in the middle of the 19th century.  Rabbi Kulwin’s name is the 18th on that roster.  18 … Chai … Life.  This strikes me as highly appropriate.

We know that the heritage of the Jewish people is of paramount importance to Rabbi Kulwin.  The transmission of that heritage to the next generation and to the generations that will follow is key.  Jewish family, Jewish worship, and, vitally, Jewish education lead to that transmission.  I can think of no more fitting tribute to Rabbi Kulwin’s legacy than to support the Jewish education of our children.  In that spirit, I am delighted to announce that Temple B’nai Abraham is establishing the Rabbi Clifford M. Kulwin Education Fund, whose purpose shall be to ensure that Jewish education is available and affordable to all Temple members.

The fund was initiated with the final monies from the estate of Eric and Lore Ross, whose own commitment to education and personal closeness to Rabbi Kulwin make this a wonderfully appropriate use of their generosity.  As well, several Temple members responded enthusiastically to private appeals and I am delighted to announce that the Fund already contains nearly three quarters of a million dollars, well on the way to our initial goal of one million dollars.

But that is only an initial goal.  The more we raise the more we can reduce the cost of educating our children and ensure that Jewish education is easily accessible to every single Jewish family.

We’re on our way, and the generosity of all of us will be needed.  If you want to make a concrete and substantial impact on Jewish life, and support the congregation we all hold dear, consider a donation. Starting Monday, information about donating will be posted on our website, www.tbanj.org

And another thing.  I said, “nearly three quarters of a million dollars.”  I should have said $800,000.  Rabbi Kulwin and Robin have informed me of their own pledge of $50,000 to the fund.

Speaking for myself, and I’m sure for all of us, this is a bittersweet moment.  While I know that my dear friend Rabbi Clifford Kulwin will always be a part of my life and while I know that Temple B’nai Abraham will continue to have great spiritual leadership well into the future, I am also sure that I will miss Rabbi Kulwin as our synagogue’s rabbi.

Rabbi …. Cliff, the different chapters of your life that led to this moment have made a great book so far.  We wish you well.  We certainly wish for you and your family that the next chapter and the chapters that will follow enhance that volume.  We, I, love you and want all the best for you.

As I mentioned before, we are especially honored this evening by the presence of Governor Phil Murphy.  Because of his own close relationship with, and respect for, Rabbi Kulwin, he and First Lady Tammy Murphy made certain they could be here.

Governor, it is my personal honor to invite you to say a few words.

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