It is with great sadness that the trustees of Sinai announce that Rabbi Strasko will be retiring from the community rabbinate in the coming months due to his ill health.
We are working together to ensure that he is able to fulfil the key work needed before he leaves, as well as helping to manage his workload to prevent further damage to his health. In the coming weeks there will be transition to new systems to support this change at Sinai. We ask that you understand the challenge which faces our community as a whole, and the Rabbi especially.
Further information will be sent out in due course around the practical responses to this change. For now, we would like to ask the community, as one, to have Rabbi Strasko and Katrin in their thoughts and prayers at this most difficult time.
The Rabbi has asked that we share the following letter from him too:
The last months since we closed the physical doors of Sinai have truly been a challenging time for our community. I am more proud than I can express of the accomplishments of Sinai, as so many people have selflessly stepped up to volunteer their time and energy to find ways to keep the virtual doors of our community open and the spirit of our community strong. Indeed, Sinai has grown in membership since lockdown, a testament to not only our very public work but as well work that will always be unseen but has answered the unique call of the time.
But there is also a difficult side to this. As the nature of the work changed, so did the types of stress. Many members of the clergy across the world are experiencing burnout or physical illnesses directly attributed to the unrelenting stress of acting in a clergy role during the time of Covid. Some of you are aware that for months I have as well been working through multiple health issues, all of which can be attributed to the additional hours and unremitting stress that has come with addressing the needs of the moment.
As a result, after incredible amounts of soul searching, I have decided to announce my retirement from Sinai as well as for the foreseeable future from the congregational rabbinate. The health issues have become serious enough that I need to focus on long term recuperation. My final day at Sinai will by April 17 of this year.
One of the most important things that I wish to express is that much of my experience at Sinai has been defined by interactions that have been positive and life affirming. So much of the Sinai community has shown a hunger for a deepening of their Jewish journey and it has been a singular pleasure to have been a part of that. I have found working with the current Board of Trustees as well to have been positive, constructive, and affirming. I feel it critical to express this in the clearest terms possible, as whenever there is a change of clergy leadership there will always be speculation regarding what is not being said. Any claim that I am leaving because of leadership will be patently false and is literally the opposite of the truth.
It is not yet clear what the next adventure holds. I want to offer my deepest thanks to those of you in the community that have been open to our dialogue over the last 19 months and have been a part of building and elevating each other. I also want to thank David Israel for working tirelessly and being a mensch in a situation where my circumstances has made his job much harder. Mostly I want to thank the Rebbetzen, Katrin, who in addition to being the sole Warden since lockdown, has had the most thankless job of keeping me going at a time that that has been a profound challenge.
As it is written: All of your children shall be taught from the Eternal, and great shall be their peace. But don’t say children, benayich, instead say builders, bonayich. (BT Berakhot 64a.)
Rabbi Paul Moses Strasko
21 January 2021 / 8th of Sh’vat 5781