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18: Job Description

10/08/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel


I wonder: if you asked 100 Rabbis to tell you what their role is, how many different answers would you get?

I also wonder whether the answer gets to change with the passage of time.

Growing up, I was blessed to have a very special Rabbi in life. Rabbi Yaakov Marcus was a student of Rabbi Soloveitchik of Yeshiva University—and, as fate would have it, also the father of my buddy Doni. 

Rabbi Marcus was and is passionate about everything he does. I marvelled at watching him bring his A-game to every Simcha, and how he knew just the right words to make each family feel special. 

During my gap year In Israel, he checked up on me, just to see that I was spending my time well. Back at home, the Marcus door was always opened for everyone. 

No Jew in Staten Island ever had to feel alone, because Rabbi and Rebbetzin Marcus were there for them.

So, with him as a role model for every decision that I make, I feel qualified to answer the question...

What makes a Rabbi?

A Rabbi's job is to care, be present with people, have their back, care for the downtrodden, pay the bills, be a leader and ambassador for your community. 

It means teaching, inspiring, listening. It means caring for the elderly but also making sure the teens know who you are—not just as their parent's Rabbi but their Rabbi, too. 

Now more than ever, I feel that the job of the Rabbi is essential to care for the forgotten, but it’s also to activate younger community members yearning to unlock themselves from an isolated existence. 

We have the most sophisticated mass of people. The beauty and depth of the Torah is waiting for their eyes, ears, brains and hearts. 

My friends, I have a secret for you. We are all Rabbis. 

This Yom Kippur, think about your role models. And let’s get to work by getting involved in a way that we know we can.

Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784