This coming weekend we will be celebrating my retirement from the position of Senior Rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim. The details of the program for the Saturday evening dinner have not been shared with me. I am looking forward to being surprised. I can tell you about the Friday, May 6th evening service and the Saturday, May 7th morning study program.
Members of the interfaith community will join us for our service on Friday evening. During the service we will hear from Father James Dvorscak of St. Daniel the Prophet, Rev. Jay Moses of Hope Presbyterian Church, Dr. Lynn Cohick of Wheaton College and Rev. Scott Matheney of Elmhurst College.
Our Saturday morning program will begin with breakfast at 9:30 AM in the social hall. We will then move into the sanctuary for our study program. Rabbi Michael Weinberg will serve as the moderator for the presentations. The four 15-minute presentations will be:
Rabbi Norman Cohen discussing: Are Jonah and Ruth of the Bible relatives…and is Rabbi Bob their ancestor and heir?
Rabbi Elliot Strom discussing: The Fourth Shalshelet
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro discussing: Becoming Elijah: “It's What We Need to Do”
Professor Michael Graves discussing: Building Friendships: Chipping Away At What Keeps Us Apart
After the presentation there will be time for questions, answers and discussion.
Let me tell you a bit about each of the four speakers.
Norman M. Cohen is the Founding Rabbi Emeritus of Bet Shalom Congregation in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He has taught at both of his alma maters, Holy Cross College and Hebrew Union College, and has served on the faculties of several other universities.
Rabbi Cohen is the author of the book Jewish Bible Personages in the New Testament as well as numerous published articles and sermons.His most recent publications are chapters in the books Keeping the Faith in Rabbinical Education and Text Messages, and an essay he co-authored in Society and Business Review: Leviticus on how to make and distribute profit. In his retirement, he is working on a book, Stereotypes and Misconceptions Jews and Christians Hold About Each Other and a booklet on the intentional symbolic architecture of Bet Shalom.
He spends part of his summer each year with me at OSRUI.
Rabbi Cohen lives with his wife Andrea in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Scottsdale, Arizona. They are the parents of TJ and grandparents of Wyatt, who live in Chicago.
Rabbi Elliot Strom, Founding Rabbi and now Rabbi Emeritus of Shir Ami in Newtown, Pennsylvania, is currently in his 37rd year with the congregation. Born and educated in Toronto, he graduated summa cum laude from York University and from Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati where he was ordained in 1977.
Rabbi Strom graduated from a four-year course of study in individual and family therapy at the University of Pennsylvania after which he became certified as a marriage and family therapist by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
Rabbi Strom has had an article included in a new book, The Mitzvah of Healing, and has also been published in the Journal of Reform Judaism (CCAR Journal) several times and is a frequent contributor to numerous publications including American Rabbi magazine, the Jewish Exponent, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Inside magazine. He has recently completed a novel entitled Rabbi, Run.
His life is especially blessed by his wonderful 44-year marriage to Susan and by their children, Adam and Rabbi Joshua and Tali and by his special joy, his grandchildren, Emma, Justin, Jonah and Gabriel.
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro has served congregations in Toronto and White Plains, NY and, since 1988, he has been the rabbi of Sinai Temple in Springfield, Massachusetts. Rabbi Shapiro is interested in the full spectrum of Jewish expression from liturgy to youth, outreach and social justice.
In 2007, he was honored by the National Conference for Community and Justice with its annual human rights award. He has also been an Adjunct Professor at Springfield College. Rabbi Shapiro's publications include the book Gates of Shabbat, which he is currently revising for new publication this summer. He has also written several articles for various journals.
Mark is married to Marsha, who has actually made the entire rabbinic journey with Mark since the two of them got married only days before rabbinic school began in 1972. Their son, Dan, lives in New York City and brings great smiles to his parents' faces every day.
Michael Graves is Armerding Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College (IL), where he has taught since 2004. Michael earned his PhD in the History of Biblical Interpretation at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. He was honored to have studied alongside Rabbi Andrea Cosnowksy at HUC.
Among his publications are: "Classic Rabbinic Perspectives" in The T&T Clark Companion to the Doctrine of Sin; “The Composition of Isaiah in Jewish Tradition” in The Genesis of the Book of Isaiah; “Midrash-Like Word Plays in Aquila’s Translation of Genesis” in Greek Scripture and the Rabbis: Studies from the European Association of Jewish Studies Seminar; and most importantly, the “Forward” to Go To Nineveh: Medieval Jewish Commentaries on the Book of Jonah by Rabbi Bob.
As one of his favorite classes, Michael team-teaches a course on Judaism at Wheaton College with Rabbi Bob. Michael is married to Beth Graves and together they have two sons, Ben and Nick. The Graves family are members of Gary United Methodist Church in Wheaton.