Rabbi Steven Bayar will kick off our 2023-2024 Clergy Series, coordinated by Ilene Dorf Manahan and Melanie Levitan. His three-part series, on “Jewish Cultures in the United States: In Common and Divided,” is set for 2 p.m. on Thursdays, Sept. 28, Oct. 5 and Oct. 12. (PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE FROM OUR USUAL TIME.)

Rabbi Steven Bayar

Rabbi Steven Bayar

However, the venue will be the same as before the pandemic: the Morris County Public Library, 30 E. Hanover Avenue, Whippany, in the same public meeting room. 

For those who would prefer, we will still offer a Zoom option to attend. The Zoom link will be provided within a week of the first program (Sept. 28).

Reservations are required, so RSVP to iadpr@aol.com, to ensure that we can accommodate and contact all attendees, if needed. One RSVP will cover all three sessions.

Session 1, on Sept. 28, will focus on ”Jewish Life in the Southwest  . . . or Anywhere Outside the Tri-State Area.” Says Rabbi Bayar, ”Jewish life outside the big cities is very different, as Jews face the issues of being a minority in an increasingly Chriistian nation. In this session, we will examine what makes a community in the Jewish Southwest, including such issues as conversion, spirituality and observance.”

In the second session, on Oct. 5, Rabbi Bayar will address “Issues that ‘Cross a Rabbi’s Eyes’: The Immigration Crisis at the Border and its Consequences.” Rabbi Bayar will discuss this topic based largely on his personal experiences in the immigrant camps in El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, and his observations about the issues and their relevance to our Jewish life today.

In Session 3, on Oct. 12, the rabbi will discuss “Crisis in Clergy: Where Are All the Rabbis, and Why?” He points out, “Synagogue membership is declining, the movements are shrinking and congregations are closing or merging. So why is there a shortage of rabbis? Where are they? And why has the rabbinate become an unpopular choice for spiritually inclined candidates?” Rabbi Bayar asks these questions rhetorically, and will explore some answers as he insightfully opens a window to clergy issues.

Rabbi Bayar was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.  In 2019, he retired as rabbi emeritus after 30 years at Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn.

He is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly and Rabbis Without Borders, has trained as a hospice chaplain and a Wise Aging facilitator, and served as a trainer for #GamAni—the Jewish #MeToo movement—for creating safe workspaces. Rabbi Bayar is a regular contributor to the Times of Israel. His observations on modern Judaism are available at JSurge.org.