For Moshe Levin, 50 years seemed like a nice round number.
After a half-century in the rabbinate, including the last 15 years as spiritual leader of San Francisco’s Congregation Ner Tamid, Levin has announced his retirement. His interim successor, Rabbi Shana Chandler Leon, was set to step in on Nov. 4.
“I was committed to creating a welcoming atmosphere as people entered the synagogue,” said Levin, 75, of his tenure at the venerable Conservative shul in the Sunset District, “and one of belonging for those who were already long-term members.”
A Brooklyn native, Levin attended yeshiva before enrolling in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary, earning his ordination in May 1969. He later served in the U.S. Air Force chaplaincy during the Vietnam War, going on to lead congregations in Potomac, Maryland, Los Angeles, La Jolla and Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean. He came to Ner Tamid in 2001.
Levin has no interest in the backyard hammock. He says the next chapter of his life will include writing, supporting anti-poverty programs, refugee support, fundraising for humanitarian causes, public speaking, traveling and helping to restore the National Jewish Library of Vilnius, Lithuania.
Rabbi Leon, who will serve in the interim post at Ner Tamid through July 31, is a native of San Francisco’s Richmond District (her grandfather was KGO Radio on-air personality Ira Blue). She attended the Hebrew Academy, embarking on a career as a cantorial soloist and Jewish educator, serving mostly at Los Angeles synagogues. She graduated from L.A.’s Academy of Jewish Religion, earning her ordination there last year.
“The people at Ner Tamid are warm, welcoming and bright,” she said. “The incredible banquet that is Judaism is so rich. I love to see what speaks to different people, what touches their soul. This synagogue has a wonderful energy and lovely families. We will build on the legacy that Rabbi Levin left there.”