LONGMEADOW – Noted rabbis Avi Weiss and Irving “Yitz” Greenberg were the guest speakers at the installation of Rabbi Max Davis at Congregation B’nai Torah in Longmeadow on Sunday Sept. 18.
Both rabbis, as well as representatives of B’nai Torah, spoke glowingly of the young rabbi who joined the congregation last August. Rabbi Davis and guests were also serenaded by the Heritage Academy choir and then were treated to a dessert reception following the festivities.
Congregation B’nai Torah member David Rosen acted as emcee of the afternoon.
“When he got here a year ago, at 28 years of age Rabbi Davis was almost the youngest ever of our rabbis, second only to Rabbi Norman Lamm, and if you are going to be second to someone, that is not a bad choice. It is precisely his youth that has won over everyone in the entire area, from child to adult to colleague. He has shown himself to be open and available and eager to participate. He is a doer, a leader.”
Kenneth Abrahams, president of B’nai Torah, praised Rabbi Davis and his dedication to the B’nai Torah congregation.
“In the space of one year, Rabbi Davis has shown himself to be a remarkable spiritual guide, a scholar…a leader with incredible energy, and in everyway, a mensch,” said Abrahams, who also honored Rabbi Davis’ wife, Dahlia, whom he called “a precious gift to our community.”
Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, former president of the Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation and one of the founders of the Birthright Israel program; founding president of CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and a member of the board of trustees of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, was one of the guest speakers.
“I am happy to be invited to participate in this celebration for one of the up and coming rabbis,” said Rabbi Greenberg, whose talk focused on the challenges to the Modern Orthodox movement over the years and its importance to Judaism in light of the assimilation of many Jews in the U.S. over the years.
Rabbi Avi Weiss, founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York, and one of Newsweek’s Magazine’s “50 Most Influential Rabbis” for four years, was a mentor for Rabbi Davis at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and he also married Rabbi Davis and his wife, Dalia.
Rabbi Weiss said that he was happy to be there to honor “this young man who means so much to you… such an extraordinary individual.”
He mentioned one of his favorite sentences in the Bible: “Walk humbly with God.”
“This congregation is so very, very blessed because you have as your rabbi one who is searching … to walk with God and lead a Godly life.”
Weiss added that Davis has so many of the “inherent characteristics needed by a rabbi – most of all that he is a “moreh” or teacher.
“A rabbi is a teacher who has to have cognitive intellectual ability. That is your rabbi,” Rabbi Weiss said. “He really understands Torah…He is not only steeped in Jewish knowledge, but the wisdom of the world…He is a calming voice, a uniting voice, a conciliatior. You see what has transpired in Springfield – he is the rebbe – the person to learn from.”