A RESPONSE TO THE UVALDE SHOOTING FROM RABBI MICHAEL S. JAY
May 26, 2022
There are no words. I feel crippling sadness. It is a sadness for families who have suffered loss. It is a sadness for beautiful children and adults who will not live out the fullness of their days. It is a crippling sadness for a community that has lost 21 beautiful souls. It is a crippling sadness for every parent in this country who is forced to wonder, as they send their treasure out into the world, “Is my child safe?”. But I am also feeling pain, anger, frustration and helplessness. The evil of Uvalde, Texas happening so close to the evil of Buffalo, New York just increases the anguish. Why should the names of so many towns and schools and synagogues and churches, be reminders of tragedy and evil?
Rabbi Michael S. Jay is the spiritual leader of the Jewish Community Center of Long Beach Island. Since September 2013, Rabbi Jay has led our congregation’s Shabbat and Holiday services following the retirement of our beloved late Rabbi Emeritus, Rabbi Jacob S. Friedman Z”L.
Rabbi Jay, raised in Monsey, New York, earned his BS in Broadcast and Film from Boston University and received his Juris Doctor from Seton Hall University. He had been practicing law for about 15 years when, after beginning to study and teach Torah, he felt the irresistibly strong desire to pursue a career in the Rabbinate. He received his rabbinic ordination in May 2012 from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan after studying for 7 years while also practicing law full time and functioning as the Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, New Jersey. In addition, he spent a year in a continuing pastoral education program at Overlook Hospital in Summit New Jersey. Rabbi Jay was a recipient of the Neubauer Fellowship and was a United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Alim Rabbinic Fellow serving as the Rabbi to Beit Rayim Synagogue in Toronto, Canada from July 2011 to June 2012.
Rabbi Jay came to the JCC of LBI only a few months after he received his smicha (ordination) when Rabbi Jack became too ill to conduct services. He guided our congregation through other difficult times including the devastation of Super Storm Sandy and the current Coronavirus Pandemic.
Rabbi Jay has been an integral part of the congregation’s programming. He has brought speakers to the Center for Shabbatons and Shabbat services. He regularly conducts classes in and out of the JCC building, and instituted Torah study prior to Shabbat morning services. The Rabbi is always available to congregants and visitors following services at Friday Onegs or Shabbat Luncheons or during office hours and scheduled visits. In addition to B’nai Mitzvah, baby namings, and other lifecycle events, Rabbi has been a source of strength for our members who have lost loved ones and regularly visits those who are ill or facing surgery.
Rabbi Jay’s lovely wife, Sheri, a special education teacher at Montclair High School and their daughter, Samantha have become an integral part of our congregation. Sheri has organized and led the very popular Rosh Chodesh programs as well as being part of all facets of congregation life.