Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, who has served for 19 years as spiritual leader of Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation on Baily Road, will be leaving Montreal towards the end of the fall for a prestigious position in New York City.
As a friend, congregant and huge admirer of Rabbi Steinmetz, I write this story with a heavy heart. He is one in a million, one of the nicest and most compassionate individuals you will ever meet. During his nearly two decades here, he has made his mark not only at TBDJ but in the community at large. He assumed many leadership posts in the community and was never afraid to speak up on controversial issues. Articulate as they come, his sermons were always “must listen to” experiences. He came here with his wife Lisa Schwartz from New York. Together they raised their four children and adopted Montreal as their home. It was unthinkable that he would ever leave. Like many others, I joined TBDJ specifically because of Rabbi Steinmetz.
In everyone’s life there comes a challenge you cannot pass up. That is what happened to Rabbi Steinmetz when was offered the position of senior Rabbi of Kehilath Jeshurun, a distinguished and historic synagogue on Manhattan's Upper East Side. He will be succeeding one of the great leaders of the North American rabbinate, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein. “This appointment is both a great privilege and a great responsibility, and offers me the possibility of beginning a meaningful new chapter in my career,” he wrote to congregants.
Rabbi Steinmetz joined TBDJ in September 1996. Prior to that, he served congregations in Mount Vernon, New York, and Jersey City, New Jersey.He received his ordination from Yeshiva University, where he was a fellow of the elite Gruss Kollel Elyon. He has a M.A. in Jewish Philosophy from the Bernard Revel Graduate School, and a M.A. in Education from Adelphi University. He has completed Leadership Education and Development (L.E.A.D.) and Meorot Rabbinic fellowships. His articles have appeared in the Canadian Jewish News, The Gazette, The Suburban, the Toronto Star and La Presse, as well as the The Jerusalem Post and the Forward and many other publications.. He also has an online blog of articles “The Happiness Warrior,” which is frequently updated.
Rabbi Steinmetz is the Past President of the Montreal Board of Rabbis, Past President of the Rabbinical Council of Canada, and past Vice President of the Quebec Region of the Canadian Jewish Congress, a has been a member of the executive of Quebec Israel Committee (QIC) and Hillel-Jewish Students Center of Montreal.
“TBDJ has been an exceptional home for Lisa, myself and our family, and it has been a wonderful place to be a Rabbi,” he said. “Deciding to leave was difficult, not just on a personal level, but on a professional level, because our synagogue is now so strong and dynamic. We have an exceptional president and lay leadership team, dedicated staff, and the nicest members in all of Canada. To leave all this was difficult; and to leave a comfortable home is risky, and we know it. But as someone once said ‘in the end, what we regret most are the chances we never took.’ For us, it was time to take on the challenge of a new shlichut, a new mission.”
TBDJ president Judah Aspler said the very difficult task of finding a successor for Rabbi Steinmetz has already begun. “ Rabbi Steinmetz will be with us through the holidays, and we’ll soon share more detail regarding the exact date of transition and various ‘farewell activities’ that will be scheduled,” he said. “With regards to the future of TBDJ, it is bright. We are in a great position to maintain our growth, and will do our utmost not to miss a beat in terms of programming, services, and the strengthening of our institution and community. This includes the immediate initiation of a search process for our next Rabbi. We have already begun the formation of a search committee, along with defining the goals and parameters of our search.