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Civic honors retiring rabbi

Brooklyn Daily

What a mensch!

The Bergen Beach Civic Association presented an award to Rabbi Joel Weintraub of Temple Shalom in honor of his retirement and history of service.

Congregants said Weintraub would be remembered for his down-to-earth style and sense of humor.

“We’d have a crowd of 500 on a high-holy day — all of a sudden he’d start telling a story about texting or what ‘LOL’ is,” said Kery Chariton, the temple’s office manager, who pointed out that such occasions are typically very solemn.

Temple Shalom installed Weintraub as rabbi in 2006. Prior to that, he led a congregation in Pennsylvania, said Bob Rossman, president of Temple Shalom.

Despite his levity, Weintraub was also a serious man, and be became a fixture at an annual interfaith service where members of Temple Shalom and St. Bernard’s Catholic Church came together in worship, said Bergen Beach Civic Association president Michael Benjamin.

“He was very knowledgeable in Judaism,” Rossman said.

The combination of deep knowledge and approachability drew in a number of new worshippers, one man said.

“He’s personally responsible for attracting me and my family back to synagogue services,” said Igor Olevsky, who’s son was bar mitzvahed by Weintraub.

The temple is in the process of selecting a new spiritual leader, but Weintraub will remain a guiding force in many congregants’ lives, Olevsky said.

“His voice — it resonated,” he said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
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