|NRT to install Rabbi Londy June 22|
|Written by Barbara Bayer, Editor|
|Wednesday, June 13 2012 10:32|
Rabbi Alan Londy believes formal beginnings are important, especially as a way to establish the sacredness of a relationship. His sacred relationship with The New Reform Temple will officially begin Friday night, June 22, when he is installed as the congregation’s rabbi at worship services. The celebration weekend will continue Saturday night at Oakwood Country Club.
On March 2 the congregation approved the board’s recommendation to offer Rabbi Londy a three-year contract as its permanent rabbi. Rabbi Londy began serving the Reform congregation, which now has 225 member units, on an interim basis on July 1, 2011.
Rabbi Londy said he looks at the interim year as exactly that. So while he’s been at NRT almost a year, his installation signals a new beginning for him and the congregation.
Ordained by the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1983, Rabbi Londy, 55, said many things originally drew him to the rabbinate.
“At that moment in my life I found that studying Judaism and living Judaism was the most compelling thing I could possibly think of doing,” he said. “You go to rabbinical school with certain ideas and aspirations and at the end of the process you have other expectations and aspirations. I just couldn’t think of anything that would be more rewarding to do.”
Rabbi Londy believes a rabbi is most importantly a teacher. Like many others in his profession, he also enjoys public service and building relationships with people. His passion is the survival of the Jewish people.
“I feel a real responsibility as a Jew to make sure that the Jewish people continue and survive. I don’t know exactly where the depth of that commitment comes from, but probably from my childhood and the influences growing up. It matters to me deeply that the Jewish people and Jewish religion continue,” he said.
Growing up, the rabbi attended a classical Reform congregation, becoming both a Bar Mitzvah and confirmand at Congregation Berith Sholom in Troy, N.Y. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell in Near-Eastern studies. He also holds a Doctor of Ministry in pastoral counseling from Hebrew Union College in New York City.
As he has grown and evolved as a rabbi over the years, he notes that NRT, as an institution, has evolved as well. Some of that is visible to the Jewish community by the fact that Rabbi Londy has been photographed at NRT wearing a tallis and yarmulke. He has also instituted a Torah study class, which he said is popular with both congregants and other members of the Jewish community.
“The New Reform Temple is clearly the most liberal of the Reform congregations in the community. And the founders had a very clear vision of what they wanted. But they also recognize, not that they want to move away from their founding philosophy, that there needs to be a greater openness,” he said.
Rabbi Londy said he has told the congregation it needs to be inclusive of both sides.
“What I like about The New Reform Temple is that it’s a big tent. There are people who are very committed to a very strict interpretation of the classical Reform, but even that is not the case, because the congregation has never really been classical Reform. People here have always been pro-Zionist and many other things. Let’s say that is the founding vision but even the founders recognize that we need to hold on to that and yet we need to evolve. As I explained to them about wearing a yarmulke and the tallit, it’s not a statement to them about what I’m asking them to do or want to do. It’s a statement about what I feel comfortable with. I think there is agreement that we need to be a tolerant and inclusive place,” he said.
Rabbi Londy said one of the reasons he chose to stay on with NRT following the interim period is the dedication of its founders. The congregation was formed in 1967 and many of the founders are still very involved with the congregation.
“I believe that the founders in the congregation understand I am very respectful of the founding vision. But of course every rabbi puts their own style or flavor of Judaism to the congregation. So I think the New Reform Temple is obviously the most liberal in the community and yet it is exploring what it is and what it wants to be.
“I think perhaps you could say at this time in the New Reform history, there is an openness and that we want the congregation to thrive and to grow,” he continued.
For the next three years, Rabbi Londy would like to concentrate on NRT’s educational agenda.
“The Reform concept of lifelong learning, which is really the educational philosophy of the congregation, is something that I see as essential. We need to offer things that will make our members more aware Jewishly to really be a center of Jewish wisdom and knowledge,” he said.
As what he calls “one of the best kept secrets” in the area, Rabbi Londy would like re-introduce NRT to the rest of the community.
“I don’t think it’s the same congregation that it was 20 years ago,” he said.
He would also like to continue to build a sense of harmony within the congregation.
“We have some incredible people in the congregation and it’s important for me to engage them so that they can be more actively involved in the congregation,” he said.
The rabbi believes one of NRT’s strengths is its commitment to social action.
“I’m very proud of the evolution of the social action committee this past year. I want the New Reform Temple to be committed to being part of the community and helping the community around us to become stronger. Kansas City has challenges and members of our congregation want our congregation to be involved in strengthening the community,” he said.
As with any congregation today, Rabbi Londy said NRT faces challenges.
“We have a unique niche. We are geographically separate. I think we recognize the stronger we are programmatically, in terms of our worship life, what we do publicly in the community, we’ll get our fair share of members,” he said.
“But congregational life today is very challenging. There is less formal affiliation everywhere. One of the things that we are discovering, especially among 20- and 30-year-olds, is that they are not joiners … so the question in a congregational model based on joining is how do you engage people whose instinct is not to join? That’s our dilemma and that’s everyone’s dilemma.”
NRT’s installation celebration
Rabbi Alan Londy will be installed as the rabbi at The New Reform Temple at Shabbat worship services at 8 p.m. Friday, June 22. The installation ceremony will be conducted by Rabbi Londy’s friend and former colleague, Rabbi Floyd Herman, rabbi emeritus of Har Sinai Congregation near Baltimore. The community is invited to attend and a special Kiddush and Oneg Shabbat will follow worship.
On Saturday morning, June 23, Torah study will be led by Rabbis Londy and Herman beginning at 9 a.m.
For more information, call The New Reform Temple at 816-523-7809.