Henry Hollander is becoming a Rabbi - officially!


Our beloved Henry Hollander, for whom we depend on for so much here at CBS, will be spending a little less time in San Francisco as he enters Rabbinical School at American Jewish University in Los Angeles! Read a few words from Henry as he prepares to make this transition.

Dear CBS family,

Many of you may think that I spend all my time at Beth Sholom, but starting this coming week I will be a little bit scarcer. I will be studying to be a Rabbi. I am starting a five year program of study at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles. AJU is the West Coast educational center for the Conservative Movement. Orientation starts this Sunday, so I will wait until after Shabbat and then get in the car and drive south. (This Shabbat is Lev Cohen’s Bar Mitzvah and I’ll be here for that. You should be too.)

I have been selling books as a profession since 1986, my whole adult life. Over the past ten years I have felt like the jump the shark moment had already passed. I have been trying to figure out a second act for quite a while. I considered a library degree or some other graduate degree leading into a teaching career, but these paths didn’t prove to be sufficiently enticing. In the last year of the tenure of Rabbi Hyman I accepted many rabbinic responsibilities. This January and February when I was falling into the same pattern it finally dawned on me that if I was going to act like a rabbi it might be better to have the education that goes with being one. I applied to AJU in February and I was accepted very shortly after my interview in early May.

My life at Beth Sholom has been a singular influence in my life. I joined in the early days of Rabbi Lew’s tenure and I benefited from being part of a cadre of very serious younger people who were at CBS at the time. Back in the 90s there was also a large group of older congregants from whom I learned a tremendous amount about how to live a meaningful life. The list of those people is very long. I still visit with many of them regularly, but sadly, our meetings take place in Colma. As their absence became more pronounced, I felt that it was incumbent upon me to pay it forward.

While I will be in Los Angeles between Monday and Thursday, I will be in San Francisco from Friday through Sunday each week. I will continue to administer the Bnai Mitzvah program. I will be teaching a shiur every Shabbat at 5 p.m. starting in September. My Talmud shiur will be on hiatus until I can find a new time for it. However, I hope to bring that back. I will be around on Shabbat. Hopefully you won’t even have a chance to miss me.

As I make this transition in my life I just want to take this opportunity to thank the community for all of the support that I have received and for helping to build and maintain this place that continues to be a second home to me.

 – Henry