WITH in-person attendances not seen since the pre-lockdown Yom Kippur of 2019, Temple Beth Israel (TBI) was filled to capacity last Saturday to farewell Rabbi Kim Ettlinger after more than 11 years.
Victorian Progressive rabbinical colleagues and Progressive leaders were among well wishers for Rabbi Ettlinger, who will begin as rabbi of Temple David in Perth next year.
TBI president Joanne Loewy Irons paid tribute to the rabbi’s landmark work in devising best practices for the synagogue’s child protection policy and for her achievements across a range of fields, “as a rabbi and as a friend to many of our congregants … you have contributed so much, not only to TBI but the broader Jewish community”.
In aliyot by Zoom from Perth and California, Rabbi Ettlinger was joined by her parents Fred and Lindsay Ettlinger, by Jane Figgis, president of Temple David and Olivia Tate of Netzer in Perth and Olivia’s parents Franklin and Heather Tate – and by James Carlson, Shari Carruthers and Kathy Williams of Peninsula Temple Sholom in San Francisco, where she had been rabbi.
Growing up in Perth after migrating with her family from South Africa, Rabbi Ettlinger described Temple David as “the community that inspired me to follow the rabbinic path”.
“More than 20 years have passed since I lived in Perth. When I left I said ‘goodbye’. Who would have ever thought that I would return? … I’ve learned many lessons since leaving Perth … I’ve learned never to say the word ‘never’. And I’ve learned never to say the word ‘goodbye’, but ‘l’hitraot’.”
About her work at TBI, she reflected, “How blessed I am to have worked with so many of our children of all ages … to have been able to bring my own child Noa into this community.”
Rabbi Ettlinger said she was thankful “to have been part of so many programs of social justice and social equity, from serving food with Nourish and sitting and eating with clients at Alma Park … to different Mitzvah Days over the years”.
She fondly recalled her roles in promoting environmentalism, mental health, sick visiting, fostering inclusiveness, and combating antisemitism and family violence.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have stood with so many of you in myriad moments of loneliness, of happiness, in love and separation, in the death of a loved one, in the birth of new life, under the chuppah, in a yahrzeit call, in sharing a joke, in smiling eyes over our COVID masks,” she said.
“Things at times have been so incredibly difficult and yet beautiful at the same time.”