NEW HAVEN – Rabbi Carl Astor, who served as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth El in New London for 32 years before retiring in 2013, has been appointed the interim rabbi of Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel (BEKI) in New Haven. Rabbi Astor is stepping in as spiritual leader while the congregation conducts a search for a permanent rabbi, following the recent departure of the its long-time spiritual leader, Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen.
“My wife, Sharon, and I have been BEKI members for three years now since moving here from New London, where I served as rabbi of Congregation Beth El from 1981 to 2013 when I retired,” Astor wrote in a letter to congregants. “We have known Rabbi Tilsen since he first came to Norwich and then on and off as he served here in New Haven. We both have deep respect and admiration for his integrity and humility.”
“Although I will be working as a part-time interim, I will participate in and oversee most of the services and will be here for you. of course, BEKI is blessed with an amazing number of extremely capable volunteers who will help me immensely.”
Astor told congregants he looks forward to re-opening the synagogue building for in-person services in the not to distant future. Like most other synagogues, BEKI shut its doors at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to re-open.
“One of my priorities will be to gradually resume in person services as soon as possible. …With more and more of us receiving vaccines and positivity levels falling, I am hopeful that it will not be long before we can get back to being together,” he wrote, adding, “These are trying times for us all, but I am excited for the opportunity to fill in and to help with our congregation’s transition to new leadership in any way that I can.”