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Share Your Memories...

In his 40 years at Emanu-El, Rabbi Posner has participated in an estimated 2,000 weddings, not to mention the baby namings, b’nei mitzvah ceremonies, funerals and other precious moments in our lives. Following are special memories about Rabbi Posner shared by members of our Temple family.

Almost four years ago, my husband, Jonathan Franks, was a patient at the Rusk Institute of NYU. It was the High Holidays, and he was feeling isolated and helpless. I called the Temple office and asked if one of the rabbinical staff would pay a visit during the holidays. “Of course,” I was told. “Rabbi Posner will come to Rusk after the children’s service on Rosh Hashanah.”

Rabbi Posner arrived with a small shofar in his bag. Because it was a hospital setting, he decided not to sound it, but his visit lifted Jon’s spirits.

Again, in the spring of 2012, Rabbi Posner came to visit, this time at home. The two of them had a lovely chat, and his visit cheered Jon immeasurably. They had a lot to talk about, and Jon spoke of the rabbi several times in the weeks that followed.

Jon died in July of 2012, but Rabbi Posner did so much to lift his spirits and ease his pain. I always will be grateful.

Suzanne Franks
(May 2, 2013)

Rabbi Posner,

The year was 1997. I remember when I came to your study for my Torah portion tutoring; we often played piano for each other. Your comments were, “My daughter played this piece” and “Play it a little slower, don’t rush” — and a compliment followed. When you played a piece for me I was mesmerized.

I hope you remember me... How many students would have the courage and confidence to play piano for you after listening to you play and knowing you have a doctorate in music? A cherished memory! Kol tuv — hatz l’cha.

Alison Davis
(April 27, 2013)

I will be entering my 40th year of life this year. Rabbi David Posner said the blessing at my bris shortly after my arrival in September 1973. In fact, mine was the first bris that Rabbi Posner performed after he arrived at Temple Emanu-El.

I may not be able to recall the blessing that he gave that day, but I grew up and became a bar mitzvah in the synagogue and grew up along with that wonderful scholar, teacher and leader. At the time I may not have fully appreciated Rabbi Posner’s wisdom, warmth, tutelage and guidance, but through my life, many of the lessons he taught have remained and resonated.

He has inspired so many lifetimes in my lifetime, and I want to thank him for his 40 years of service. His blessings at the beginning of my life were auspicious, and I would like to send my blessings as he begins his new life.

Thank you, Rabbi Posner.
Mazal tov.

J. Burns
(April 16, 2013)

If I hadn’t already long believed that a life spent in service to a distinguished institution is a life well-lived — and its own reward — that lesson would have been mine to learn on the evening of Friday, November 9, 2012. The Sabbath evening service that day was a special tribute to Rabbi David Posner, and the outpouring of genuine affection by some 2,000 of us was a remarkable thing to experience. It was, indeed, affection returned — and so deeply deserved.

Rabbi Posner’s presence has been a constant in my life at Temple Emanu-El since I moved to New York more than 30 years ago. I look forward to our paths continuing to cross for many years to come.

Jim Lader
(February 28, 2013)

I was most fortunate to have attended David Posner’s ordination. I have attached two photos from that day. I am even more blessed because I continue to be in both David’s and Sylvia’s lives. They are two of the most wonderful, loving, giving and caring people I know!

I cherish our relationship and send them much love for a continued life with much good health and happiness.

Suzanne Novik
(November 25, 2012)

Mazel Tov to Rabbi David!

After 37 years of marriage, we still get the same comment when friends look at our wedding album and see this full-page photo of David, who officiated at our NYC wedding ceremony: “Who is that young and gorgeous man? He is the Rabbi?!”


And David went on to give our daughters their Jewish names in 1981 and 1983 and also came out to New Jersey to perform the naming of our son Jeremy Daniel in the spring of 1985.

David and Sylvia, Rachel and Raphel are cherished and beloved friends. From our family to the Posners,
Mazel Tov and “Todah Rabah” for all your precious years of enriching the lives of so many of us, worldwide.

The Stack Family (Shari and Jay, Jessica, Rebecca, Jeremy, Jordan)
(November 24, 2012)

On August 15, 1976, we were married by you at the Horn of Plenty in NYC. Little did we know then, that 36 years later on October 6, 2012, you’d honor us by marrying our daughter, Alisa, to Neil Golub. You will always be in our hearts. Congratulations on your 40 years at Emanu- El.

Susan and Louis Janowitz
(November 10, 2012)

One of my most cherished memories of my daughter Leah becoming a bat mitzvah is the time we spent rehearsing with Rabbi Posner. I wanted Leah to be as comfortable as possible and as well prepared as possible for her big day, and Rabbi Posner was kind enough to indulge us with as many rehearsals as we wished! I will always remember being with Rabbi Posner and Leah in the Beth-El Chapel on wintry evenings, listening to Leah chant her portion and sing the prayers, while Rabbi Posner encouraged her with warmth, patience and good humor. To me, this epitomized Rabbi Posner’s goodness and kindness and his wonderful Jewish soul.

Sarah Janover
(November 5, 2012)

Jeff and I met Rabbi Posner when Jaclyn was born in 1991. He named Jaclyn in his study…and we were not even members of Temple Emanu-El! So, of course, we joined the synagogue. Rabbi Posner has been a part of our family ever since.

He blessed Samantha at her bat mitzvah ceremony. We wonder what he said to her up at the bimah for so long, but whatever imprint he made was everlasting! He also was so understanding with Samantha performing in the Nutcracker and other ballets at Lincoln Center. He gave her the confidence and emotional support that she would be magnificent at her bat mitzvah.

The same applied to Jaclyn… Rabbi Posner encouraged her to become a bat mitzvah in the Main Sanctuary, and she really projected, thanks to his coaching. Our entire family came to Jaclyn’s rehearsals on Sundays, and we all looked forward to working with David.

Listening to David play the piano is such a joy and a privilege. He is not only a scholar but a truly gifted pianist! Our social get togethers with Sylvia are/were so much fun. Sylvia and David are such great role models as a couple and have taught Jeff and me many parenting skills. We have enjoyed several Shabbat dinners at their beautiful home…delicious food…great conversation and meeting many congregants we never knew.

Rabbi Posner officiated my dad’s funeral. He was so supportive and empathetic toward me and my entire family. He rode in the limo and shared his pearls of wisdom, which I will never forget.

I look forward to the High Holy Day services so that I can see and hear him speak to us and hold on to all of his thoughts and prayers.

Rabbi David Posner always will be part of the lives of the Greenblatt family. We all adore him, Sylvia and his beautiful family. We know you still will be with Temple Emanu-El and hope that you have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

With love and affection,
The Greenblatt Family (Lisa, Jeff, Samantha and Jaclyn)
(October 24, 2012)

Dear David,

How I cherish the memory of those two years we “serious students of Hebrew” met together for study and camaraderie. You so lovingly guided us through the intricacies of Hebrew grammar and biblical literature (not to mention the frequent comparisons in Arabic or Aramaic), thrice weekly for year #1 and twice for year #2. Occasionally, when arriving early, I was privy to a special treat. You would be practicing a Brahm’s Rhapsody.

David, please know that I consider you a “Rabbi” in the truest sense of the word.

Irene Badiali
(October 6, 2012)

Becoming Sacred Time:
In Celebration of Rabbi David Posner

He accepts the responsibility to safeguard the gifts of creation and celebrates life. He differentiates the sacred from the ordinary. He is Shabbat.

As the world grows older, he strives to nurture the maturity of the world, its environment and humanity. He is Rosh Hashanah.

He has the capacity to determine his own character and reputation. He can judge, improve and redeem himself. He is Yom Kippur.

He needs others and is aware that Nature, chance and change have an impact on his life. He realizes that life is fragile and is humbled by that awareness. He seeks opportunities to express thanksgiving. He is Sukkot.

He knows that he possess a treasure. Tanach communicates demands on his thoughts and behavior. He can discover unparalleled meaning in Tanach and accept both implicit and explicit obligations in its prose and poetry that represent the perennial values of Jewish identity. Tanach and its messages of prophetic idealism is his mission. He is Simchat Torah.

He is proud to be a Jew. He can and does assert the values of Jewish identity. He is a light to others, using Jewish teaching to guide them on the path of brave self-esteem. He is Chanukah.

His Jewish identity may make others uncomfortable. His Jewish values could be controversial. However, he must and will defend his beliefs. He is a winner. He is Purim.

He is a free thinker. He will not tolerate slavery for self or others. He is Pesach.

He is a realist. He knows that suffering is a possible aspect of Jewish identity. Yet, he is an optimist. He is confident that the future can be better. He knows that we can build a beautiful tomorrow. He is Yom HaShoah.

He experiences the State of Israel both as a model of the Tanach’s prophetic idealism and as a national example of the social, political, intellectual, economic and cultural style required for secure survival in the “global village.” He does contribute to the fulfillment of these goals. He is Yom HaAtzma-ut.

He makes choices. He recognizes, in the commandments of our Torah, a valuable resource for personal and interpersonal discipline and decision making. Choosing, as a Jew, is an expression of his confidence in the ability of Jewish identity to nurture self-actualization, in a variety of ways. He is Shavuot.

He is my beloved friend and colleague.
He is Rabbi David Posner.

By Honorary Member, Congregation Emanu-El
Prof. Howard Bogot, Rabbi (Jenkintown, PA)
(September 14, 2012)

Being brought up without religion, after finding out I had Jewish ancestry on both sides of the family, I started doing some research and, already as an adult, I decided to convert/return to Judaism. However, that was impossible in Portugal. Communities were small, Orthodox and not welcoming to “strangers.”

In 1997 I went to New York to study for my master’s thesis at the Leo Baeck Institute and was surprised at Jewish life in America. At the Leo Baeck Institute, I was given some addresses where I could find a rabbi who would help me. And then I started a series of letters, meetings, all to no avail. Distance was always a barrier.

In 2003, Shavei Israel sent a rabbi to Portugal. For the first time, I was able to participate in Jewish life, Shabbat services and holidays. I was happy even if everything was too Orthodox. After three years, a group of people went to Israel for a return ceremony. I was not included. According to the rabbi, I was not Orthodox enough. I kept going to the synagogue and was even proposed to be part of another returning group. But a date was never fixed, and I stopped seeing any progress. Two years later, the conversion certificates were delivered, and I definitely lost hope of being a “Jew with paper.”

A few days before Passover, we received the visit of the new Ambassador of Israel to Portugal and also from a friend, Zeev ben Amaral, whom we had not seen for a very long time. He had returned to Judaism with the help of Mr. Yaakov Gladstone and promised he would help me. We got in touch and Mr. Gladstone suggested I write a letter (one more letter, I thought…) to Rabbi David Posner. A few days later, he told me Rabbi Posner had agreed to perform my return ceremony. After a few attempts, the date was settled: August 12, 2009.

I must confess, I only started to believe the long-awaited day finally would take place when I opened the door of the mikveh and saw Rabbi Posner there. After having passed through the mikveh, I crossed Central Park and went to Temple Emanu-El. Rabbi Posner arrived, and the ceremony began. It was very moving. After the ceremony, together with Julie, a young lady who had returned to Judaism the year before, we went to Rabbi Posner’s office, where he signed my conversion letter. In the end, at Julie’s request, Rabbi Posner played Schubert. While he was playing, I remembered all my life and all my previous failed attempts to fulfill my dream, which had come true then but was still hard to believe. That moment, I had to tell myself: “You did not cry until now, so you won’t cry from now on.”

Above all, I am overjoyed that at least with me, neither the Inquisition nor the dictatorship had the last word. Therefore, I am deeply grateful to Rabbi David Posner. The fact that he believed in me, even if he did not know me, makes me be more observant every day.

Due to the recession Portugal is undergoing, I don’t know if it will be possible for me to be in New York and meet Rabbi David Posner before he retires, but it is certainly my wish. On his retirement, I wish him all the best.

Maria Gil de Sousa (Leah)
(August 26, 2012)

Twenty-five years ago there was a notice in the Temple Bulletin announcing the formation of a “serious Hebrew” class to be taught by Rabbi Posner. I was excited about the opportunity to learn to converse in Hebrew with my many Israeli relatives. Wrong! Rabbi Posner explained that the subject would be Classical Hebrew, for example, as in the Bible.

I embarked on what became a thrice-weekly course, stretched over several years, of learning Hebrew, then a smattering of Arabic (with a textbook written by Rabbi Posner) and some Aramaic added for good measure. Along the way I was invited to teach Hebrew in the Religious School and eventually had the privilege of teaching Hebrew to five adult b’nei mitzvah classes at the Temple.

Rabbi Posner is a phenomenal teacher. His classes were exciting and challenging. He devoted many hours to correcting the too many exercises I insisted on doing. His lessons were not just about Hebrew; they taught Judaism through the framework of language.

Maxine Friedman
(August 13, 2012)

Nearly 40 years ago, around the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the autumn of 1973, an extremely handsome, personable, musical and highly intelligent 25-year-old young rabbi entered my life. Myself 30, and already a “veteran” teacher of five years duration in Temple Emanu-El’s Religious School, I had no idea that I would be fortunate enough to have this amazing man become a life-long friend, mentor and beacon to me. Rabbi Posner encouraged me to attend law school; he guided my children, Robert and Susan, with their respective religious educations, b’nei mitzvah and confirmations; and he always was available for personal simchahs and losses.

In March 2001, Rabbi Posner was gracious enough to honor my then 80-year-old mother at a special Shabbat service in honor of her milestone birthday. And just 10 years ago this past June, Rabbi Posner married my daughter and son-in-law at a wedding held at my son’s home in Brookville, N.Y.

When I reluctantly left the Religious School faculty at the conclusion of my 39th year of teaching in May 2006 because of scheduling conflicts with my legal career, my solace was a deep belief that Rabbi Posner and I would be able to continue our decades-long relationship. I have not been disappointed, and I congratulate him and his remarkable family on the occasion of his forthcoming retirement.

Vivien Goldbaum
(July 17, 2012)

Lenox Hill Hospital, Midnight, February 28, 2006:
Four days before her bat mitzvah, Marcy Lizbeth Marbut underwent an emergency appendectomy. She was wheeled into surgery with a cell phone held to her ear. On the other end was Rabbi David Posner reassuring her that, one way or another, she would become a bat mitzvah. As promised, she did — on schedule — with only a change of venue.

Lenox Hill Hospital, 5 PM, March 4, 2006:
Rabbi Posner created a temporary sanctuary in Lenox Hill’s Einhorn Auditorium. Family, friends — and balloons — filled the room. The hospital had alerted the news media, so cameras were flashing as the elevator opened and a nurse rolled in Marcy by wheelchair. What a memory when, at that moment, Rabbi Posner asked us to stand for the Shehecheyanu.

Marcy took her place at the make-shift altar, read from the Torah and became a bat mitzvah in a ceremony that has become a defining moment in her life.

Rabbi Posner, from here in San Antonio, Texas, we still think of you: your long-winded shofar blowing, your exuberance, your support and warmth. You remain the most memorable rabbi of our lives.

With lasting appreciation and love,
M. Marbut
(July 16, 2012)

As Rabbi Posner has been such an integral part of our family for three generations, it is not possible to share a single memory. There are so many events for which we are thankful: our marriage; the naming and bar/bat mitzvah of our children, Jonathan, Jamie and Ryan; the marriage of Jonathan to Elizabeth; the bris of our grandson, Jack; and, this fall, the marriage of our daughter, Jamie to David. Many great memories, and many thanks.

Lisa and Jim Fuld Jr.
(July 13, 2012)

The date was set — August 27, 2011 — for our daughter Samantha’s wedding in New York City. We were thrilled Rabbi Posner would officiate. Excitement turned to dismay (and that’s putting it mildly!) when Hurricane Irene announced herself as the quintessential Uninvited Guest. Canceling the entire event for more than 200 guests, many who had come great distances, was devastating but not nearly as traumatic as seeing the sad eyes of the would-be bride and groom as all were told to stay safe behind closed doors.

We will remember always the phone call at 10 PM that night as we sat around tired and forlorn. It was Rabbi Posner, checking to see how we were doing. He then urged us to set another date with his graceful promise that without question “he would be there.” So we did, and he was…and now it’s happily ever after! Thank you and big hugs, David!

S. Nieder Acunto
(July 6, 2012)

Several years ago, I was admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital with a cardiac problem. No sooner had I been given a room than who should appear but Rabbi Posner! We had a wonderful, reassuring visit, and I am eternally grateful.

But I couldn’t help thinking how different the Temple is now from 1958 when I was in that same hospital, having just given birth. I received a call from the senior rabbi, Dr. Mark. “The Assistant Rabbi has a cold,” he said. “So I want to extend my good wishes to you by phone.”

I will certainly miss Rabbi Posner, and I hope all future rabbis will be as caring as he.

B. Eisenpreis
(July 1, 2012)

During a High Holy Day sermon, Rabbi Posner once related a story I had told him months earlier and credited it to me by name. I was thrilled and touched by his generosity to include me in such a meaningful service. I cherish Rabbi Posner’s intellect, humor and wisdom and will miss his presence on the bimah so much.

W. Kornfeld
(July 1, 2012)

I was so interested in learning Hebrew and felt so badly that the bat/bar mitzvah training for adults did not receive the amount of people that the Temple needed to conduct the classes. I emailed Rabbi Posner to ask him where he would suggest I take Hebrew classes, as the places I contacted were not giving beginning Hebrew classes. He said, “Go no further. I will tutor you one-on-one, and you will be able to read.” I was anxious to learn as my granddaughter was becoming a bat mitzvah in June.

Rabbi Posner put me at ease the first minute I walked into his office. I was worried about how I would do having no knowledge of Hebrew, but I soon learned that his calming manner and expertise made me feel so good about learning Hebrew.

My husband and I feel so pleased to be members of the Temple for the past three years. We feel welcomed when we come to services on Friday night. Rabbi Posner is truly a special person.

I know that Rabbi Posner will be around Temple Emanu-El in the coming years.
How lucky for all of us!

J. Fink
(June 30, 2012)

I first remember Rabbi Posner 40 years ago when I was in Nursery School, and he had a lot of hair. I have been a member of Temple Emanu-El since then, and he has been the center of my Jewish identity.

Rabbi Posner is the best rabbi in the world. Any time I try any other temple, I hate it as it isn’t Temple Emanu-El, and it doesn’t have anyone remotely close to Rabbi Posner. I can’t imagine going to services without him there. My whole family loves it when at the end of service he raises his hands and blesses the congregation. We love hearing his voice from the pulpit. His sermons are always great. We will miss him more than he can ever imagine.

E. Lunder/The Liebman Family
(June 29, 2012)

As a member of David’s first confirmation class at Emanu-El, I remember being awed by his ability to capture our spirits and make what many of us considered a familial obligation come alive. For the first time, we were exposed to electives at Sunday school. Instead of the same stories we had heard thousands of times, we studied history and where as Jews we fit in. “Mitzvah” and “tikkun olam” no longer were abstract concepts but a part of our daily obligation for being a Jew.

As an adult, David not only married me but buried my husband…offering solace to not just me but to him as well. There is not a momentous event in my life of which he has not been a part. He has been my touchstone at Emanu-El, and I will miss him terribly.

S. Sloan
(June 28, 2012)

Around 2½ years ago, my brother-in-law (the husband of my wife’s twin sister) died. During the shiva period, my wife, Amy, unexpectedly ended up in the hospital emergency room and subsequently required brain surgery to determine whether she had a brain tumor or infection. It turned out that she had a massive infection and was in a coma for five weeks; she then underwent physical and occupational therapy when she finally woke up. Today she is fully recovered.

While Amy was in a coma, her other sister Judith had to go to Mount Sinai Hospital for a test. I was unable to escort Judith and Amy’s twin, Ruth, who was overwhelmed by both her husband’s death and her sister’s unexpected hospitalization. Judith, however, was a member of Temple Emanu-El, and I contacted Emanu-El to determine if there was someone from the congregation who could take Judy to Mount Sinai. We were flabbergasted to learn that Rabbi Posner took Judy himself. What a mensch!

Judy ultimately died around a year and a half ago. Her funeral was conducted by Rabbi Posner and fell on the same day as my brother-in-law’s first yahrzeit. After the burial, we attended Shabbat services at Temple Emanu-El so that we could recite Kaddish in Judy’s memory. Not only was Judy’s name mentioned, but Rabbi Posner made sure that my brother-in-law Arnold’s name also was mentioned that evening. We were all so moved by this.

Although Ruth, Amy and I all belong to other congregations, Temple Emanu-El and Rabbi Posner always will hold special places in our hearts. We now know why Judy referred to Congregation Emanu-El as her “shul.”

We hope that Rabbi Posner will enjoy his well-deserved retirement. He will be missed. He is truly among the 36 righteous that our tradition speaks about.

A. Weintraub
(June 28, 2012)

Dear Rabbi Posner:

I am a little behind in my reading, but I noticed an article in the Wall Street Journal about your coming retirement, and I could not let it go by without comment. First of all, you are too young to retire, and second of all, you are a tough act to follow at the synagogue. I think of you as an exemplar of the Jewish faith for all who come in contact with you. I know that you will be greatly missed by your congregation, and so will all New Yorkers who know you. Cardinal Dolan expressed his own thoughts about you when he said, “I’ve just come to respect him and love him. He is one of these people responsible for making religion in New York a positive force.” I think his comments are clear and to the point, but I also think he reflects as to how all New Yorkers perceive you and hold you in their esteem.

As an aside, you presided at the wedding of my niece. Her father was too ill to attend the service, so I walked her down the aisle. Before that, I had never met you, but my niece spoke very highly of you. After the service, you were all smiles, kindness and consideration to the bridal couple. Watching you in action, I made up my mind that this rabbi is more than a decent human being, and I walked away feeling an instant warmth and, yes, a love for you. I felt that I could not ask anything more of you at that time. As far as I am concerned, you are truly one of God’s blessings and a man for all seasons!

My best wishes on your retirement, and may it be a long and fruitful one with God holding you in his hands all along the way.

Sincerely yours,
V. Rospond
(May 17, 2012)

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