As Rabbi Wayne Franklin prepares to retire as the longest-serving rabbi in the history of Temple Emanu-El, a community-wide tribute dinner is planned at the temple on June 2.
Rabbi Franklin became the senior rabbi at Emanu-El in 1981. Robert Pelcovits, the current temple president, said Franklin’s many accomplishments during his long tenure include: helping make services egalitarian for women, making interfaith and gay and lesbian couples more welcome, and leading many interfaith dialogues and social justice efforts. He said Franklin was also instrumental in the 2000 renovation of the historic main sanctuary, as well as the construction of a first-floor chapel.
Yet Pelcovits said Franklin will probably be most remembered for his deep involvement in the lives of generations of congregants, especially during difficult times such as crises and deaths.
“He is always there for people. There’s no such thing as ‘not available,’ ” Pelcovits said. In times when there’s been a loss, he said, Franklin has been “exceptional.”
Several hundred people are expected to attend the dinner, – all from the congregation and the wider community are welcome.
“We are holding this festive celebration to honor our rabbi and express our appreciation and gratitude for him,” the three event chairs, Rebecca Brenner, Barbara Feldstein and Bernice Kumins, said in a statement. “He has impacted our community with his insights, wisdom and friendship. Rabbi Franklin has given 38 years of leadership, dedication and passion. This has been a gift to our congregation and the community at large.”
The tribute event will include dinner, testimonials and music. Franklin said he is looking forward to the program and seeing “many people I have known for many years.”
Franklin, who will step down as rabbi on June 30, said, “It’s a matter of satisfaction that the work I have been doing has been appreciated. That means a lot to me.”
Space is limited at the dinner, which begins at 5 p.m. on June 2 at Temple Emanu-El, 99 Taft Ave., Providence. The reservation deadline is May 13; tickets are $72. For more information or to reserve a seat, call Temple Emanu-El’s main office at 401-331-1616 or go to www.teprov.org/rabbif
The June issue of Jewish Rhode Island will include an interview with Rabbi Franklin.
NOEL RUBINTON, a member of Temple Emanu-El, is a writer who lives in Providence.