After nearly 14 years standing behind the pulpit of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, Rabbi Stephen Fuchs has announced plans to retire at the end of June 2011.
The decision, Fuchs wrote in a recent letter to his congregants, came “after much soul searching” during the Reform rabbi’s recent “mini-sabbatical.”
“For the past 42 years I have either been ‘the rabbi’ or preparing to be ‘the rabbi.'” Fuchs wrote. “During every day of that time ‘rabbi’ has not just been a job or career, but the essence of who I am. It has been a sacred mission that I have tried to fulfill (paraphrasing the V’ahavta prayer) ‘with all of my heart, soul and might.'”
That will not change, wrote Fuchs. But during the course of his recent time away from the pulpit, he became convinced that there is another chapter – another direction – to his life. A chapter that will no doubt involve spending more time with his family; a chapter that cannot be fully evaluated until he is away from the day-to-day demands of the pulpit.
Meanwhile, wrote Fuchs, “My hope is to make my last year as your senior rabbi my very best.” Among his plans: a Friday night sermon series entitled “This I believe.” He also intends to continue to work actively for social causes; in particular, quality health care for all, and a reduction of the level of violence portrayed in the media.