Dr. Laurie Reitman, President of Temple Emanuel, recently announced Rabbi Joshua Taub has decided not to renew his contract with the congregation after his current contract with them ends on June 30, 2009.
"We appreciate everything Rabbi Taub has done for the congregation over the years and wish him well in the future," Reitman said.
Taub reached his decision following a meeting which addressed the future of the congregation on April 17. Working groups, which had previously been formed to look over three possibilities, made their presentations to the membership at that meeting.
"When the congregation shared -- with its members and the public -- the possibility of a merger with Temple Israel, it set up a passionate debate on the future of the congregation," Taub said. "At the recent meeting, it became clear that regardless of the option, none of the three considerations factored in a future for me with the congregation."
Taub felt the prudent and beneficial decision for Temple Emanuel and himself would be to give the congregation the opportunity to "make their transition and map their future without having the impediment of a rabbi as part of alternatives."
"The temple and my future are no longer on the same path," Taub said. "This will allow the congregation to move on."
In his letter to Reitman, Taub suggested the board consider giving him a sabbatical which they were "gracious enough to do." The board adopted a resolution to give Taub a sabbatical year beginning July 1, 2008.
Though the details are still being finalized, the intent is to have Rabbi Emeritus Joseph Rosenbloom serve as interim senior rabbi until other arrangements are secured.
It is not uncommon for congregations in transition to decide to move in a different direction in terms of rabbinic leadership, said Taub.
"Congregations are living things and sometimes it becomes time to sever a relationship," Taub said. "If people refuse to accept that and hang on, it only creates tremendous disruption and unhappiness."
Taub said he had every intention of retiring in St. Louis when he accepted the position at Temple Emanuel five years ago.
"Unfortunately, it looks like that will happen somewhere else," Taub said. "However, the sadness is easier to bear because I know it is the right thing to do."
The sabbatical will give Taub time to do the work he needs to do and time to seek a new pulpit. He is not severing ties with the congregation, just removing himself from its day-to-day life. He suspects he will keep his home base in St. Louis.
"I plan on keeping the lifecycle obligations already on the calendar," Taub said. "And I will try and make as many events as possible."
The decisions are very new at this point and the game plan not definitive, said Taub.
"I am looking forward to the sabbatical and having time for study, reflection and a little more golf," Taub said. "I am hopeful everything will go well for the congregation and that they sustain their momentum and energy as they choose their course of action."