My friend, teacher, and colleague Rabbi Shammai Engelmeyer’s decision to take a sabbatical from his challenging and thought-provoking column leaves a void in our communal dialogue. Shammai’s ability and willingness to speak truth to power, and to do so with intelligence and elegance of expression and with no concern for political correctness has been a great gift to all who care about Jewish life in general and our northern New Jersey Jewish community in particular. True to his rabbinic namesake, Rabbi Shammai seldom has found himself in the majority, but like the Shammai of the Mishnah he is willing to speak and teach Torah, using his heart, soul, and might. May we all take up Shammai’s challenge and recognize that the rabbinic teaching “shivim panim la Torah” in the 21st century is a challenge to all if us to listen to each other, including the others with whom we disagree.
Thank you, Shammai, for this great summation of the years of Torah you have taught, and the standard of truth and honesty you have set for us all.