Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus in Northeast Miami-Dade will soon celebrate Rabbi Edwin Farber’s 21 years of service, as he transitions from full-time senior rabbi to part-time rabbi emeritus.
“I am very excited,” Farber said. “That allows me to focus mainly on teaching and working with the kids. And whenever there’s life cycles, whether it be happiness or sadness where it’s needed, I will be there. The team remains together but we have a new quarterback.”
Rabbi Mario Rojzman, who has been at Beth Torah since 2003, will take over as senior rabbi. As rabbi emeritus, Farber will continue teaching and working with children.
Farber, 64, grew up in Miami and attended Norland Senior High and the Greater Miami Judaica High School program.
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He was ordained as a rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. His first pulpit as a rabbi was at Temple Samu-El or Olom in South Dade. He began his service at Beth Torah in 1995, succeeding one of his childhood idols, Rabbi Max Lipschitz.
Farber has overseen many conversions to Judaism. He serves as head of the department of Introduction to Judaism and has been an integral part of the synagogue welcoming and integrating Hispanic and Russian communities.
In the 1990s, Farber led two groups of teenagers and later a group of adults in The March of the Living, a two-mile march from the Polish World War II concentration camp, Auschwitz, to the death camp Birkenau.
Farber has been involved and recognized throughout his career. He has served as president of the Greater Miami Rabbinical Association and the Southeast Region of the Rabbinical Assembly of America. He has also been a part of numerous committees throughout the years.
He and his wife, Laurie, met through a synagogue youth group and worked together in a summer camp. They married in 1971 when Ed was 20 and Laurie was 18. Laurie has been the principal of numerous day schools and continues to teach part time.
“We went through school together out of state and also in Israel. We came back to Miami because we grew up here,” Laurie Farber said. “We raised three kids and we have, so far, 13 grandkids. And even with all that to prove that time has gone by, I still can’t believe that this is happening. This week coming up.”
Farber looked back on his career with fondness. “It’s certainly a special privilege to be able to spend our careers in our hometown with people we literally grew up with,” he said.
Farber’s successor called him a “visionary.”
“I praise that every skin color, every sexual orientation and every accent can be heard in this institution through him,” Rabbi Rojzman said.
Steven Scheck, president of Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus, called Farber “our moral compass of the synagogue.”
“I’ve always thought of him as our leader,” Scheck said. “He’s always trying to uplift people and bring people closer.”
Beth Torah’s development director, Marshall Baltuch, said Farber “has made a real impact on this community and he continues to do so.”
“He’s always there to motivate, push and inspire. He has always been there for me and my family in good times and bad times,” said Baltuch, who served as the Farbers’ youth director in the 1960s.
“He provides a sense of stability and comfort for the entire South Florida community,” said Wayne Keil, Beth Torah’s chief operating officer. “Nobody wants him to leave. It’s an amazing thing. He takes whatever unpleasant thing that I may be going through, he’ll calm me down and manage to teach me something all at the same time. It is my personal honor to be his friend.”
Celebration Week Schedule
Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus
20350 NE 26th Ave, North Miami Beach
Tuesday, March 1
▪ Golf Tournament, Club at Emerald Hills - 11:30 a.m. registration
▪ Musical Celebration - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 2
▪ Lunch and Learn with Rabbi - 12:00 p.m.
▪ Programs with Youth - afternoon/evening
▪ Programs with Conversion Students - 7:15 p.m.
Thursday, March 3
▪ Coffee Talks with Laurie - 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
▪ Panel Discussion Round Table with Rabbi Ed Farber and Rabbi Mario Rojzman, Moderator - 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 4
▪ Shabbat Programs and Visitations/Lunch with Hochberg Prep Students - Morning
▪ Shabbat Dinner - 6:00 p.m.
▪ Shabbat Services - 7:30 p.m.
▪ Oneg Shabbat, Entire Congregation - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 5
▪ Shabbat Services and Kiddush Luncheon, Entire congregation - 9:30 a.m.
▪ The Event: Cocktails, Dinner and Dancing - 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 6
▪ BBQ and Pool Party - 10:30 a.m.