RABBI Ralph Genende is leaving Caulfield Hebrew Congregation (CHC) – news the shule’s president David Mond said he received “with surprise and regret”.
Announcing his resignation last Thursday, CHC’s senior rabbi will remain in his role for 12 months, while a successor is sought.
“I have come to this decision after a great deal of thought; the time has come for a change in my life,” Rabbi Genende said in a statement. “I have found my time at CHC extremely satisfying and am grateful for all that I have been able to achieve, in particular, the privilege of being involved with people at significant points in their lives. I will continue to fulfil all my duties as senior rabbi with care, attention, and thoughtfulness until October 2021. It is my hope that the community continues to grow and flourish.”
Approached by The AJN, CHC’s senior rabbi, who has been with the shule for 13 years, would not elaborate on his plans for the future. Stating it was “still early days”, he added, “I am currently considering and investigating numerous options and opportunities.”
Asked to name highlights of his time at CHC, Rabbi Genende said, “Putting people first – a responsive pastoral and life-cycle program” as well as “creating innovative programs with talented board members, from Caulfield Bubs through inkr 572 Shabbat dinners for young adults, Baby Boomers’ Breakfast Club, Darchei Shalom Soup Kitchen and Tuesday Shmoozeday for seniors.”
Other highlights include fostering talented youth directors to create programs like Zusha for teenagers, enabling the Hineni youth movement to operate at the shule and “creating a topical, challenging and sometimes controversial weekly news piece in my column, ‘Rabbi Ralph Keeps In Touch'”.
He also stated that “promoting a culture of inclusivity in gender and the multifaith environment” has been important to him, as have “social justice and an ethos of enlightened Modern Orthodoxy in our shule and the wider Melbourne community”.
His aim, he said, has been “making the unaffiliated feel they have a place under the wide sky of Judaism”.
Pledging a smooth transition over the coming year, Mond reflected, “Our community is fortunate to have a rabbi of the calibre and skills of Rabbi Genende. In his role at Caulfield Shule, Rabbi Genende has provided rich spiritual and personal leadership.
“In terms of representation with the broader Australian community and governments at all levels, Rabbi Genende has ably represented the Melbourne Jewish community in various official roles including senior rabbi to the Australian Defence Force, executive member of the Religious Advisory Council to the Minister of Defence and member of the Premier’s Multi-faith Advisory Group.”