Rabbi Michael Resnick Joins His Congregants in the Search for Meaning
As the rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Palm Beach for the past 15 years, Rabbi Michael Resnick knows that his primarily “snowbird” synagogue community is not typical, with many congregants among the ranks of the country’s most successful business people. But he says what most distinguishes—and unites—Temple Emanu-El’s diverse membership is their high level of education and desire for “a Judaism that touches both the heart and the intellect.”
It’s a privilege to lead such an engaged group, Resnick says, and thanks to a JTS education that trained him to view Judaism through a historical lens, he feels he has the tools to help guide congregants in their quest for contemporary religious meaning and growth. “My education helps me as together we question not only what Judaism was or is, but also what it could or should be,” he explains.
Resnick also feels fortunate to lead a community that is concerned about the world around it, whose members have the desire and capacity to rally around causes—and get things done. “Just recently, in 24 hours, in partnership with another synagogue in Toronto, they mobilized resources to assist Jewish Ukrainian refugees in Poland,” he shared.
Resnick takes pride, as well, that as rabbi of the only egalitarian synagogue in Palm Beach, he has developed strong relationships with other rabbis and with religious leaders of other faiths. “I am blessed with amazing colleagues here in town,” he said. “We have built solid friendships over the years in what has sometimes been a religiously separated community.” Rabbi Resnick participates every year in the Palm Beach Interfaith Thanksgiving Service and was the founder of Fellowship Friday, an interfaith “Mitzvah Day” held annually the day after Thanksgiving.
This is actually Resnick’s second time working at Temple Emanu-El. Fresh from The Rabbinical School in 1996, he served as the synagogue’s assistant rabbi before moving back to his hometown of Los Angeles. When he returned to Palm Beach as senior rabbi in 2007, he was drawn to what he describes as the sense of joy and spirit that mark the congregation, whose membership numbers have increased in recent years. “The vast majority of congregants are looking for a sense of community and a sense of purpose that resonates with the modern world,” said Resnick. “We present a Judaism they can connect with, that is relevant, and that adds a layer of meaning to their lives.”