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Rabbi Stephen Wylen - Thank You!



Rabbi Stephen Wylen was recently honored for his service as Interim Rabbi at Kol Haverim. He will be greatly missed! Below are words offered by Len Kaplan at the farewell dinner and service on June 23, 2017.


I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to represent your Board of Trustees and our congregation in saying goodbye to Rabbi Stephen Wylen.  I personally believe being an Interim Rabbi is pretty high on the religious list of tough jobs.


He arrived after going through a relatively difficult interview process.  He knew few people in the congregation and had to start running as b’nai mitzvah’s wait for no one.


He was a bit at the mercy of the first people who met with him offering their assistance in his transition. And, our expectations were that he’d be everything his predecessor was and more, at least for the one year he signed on to serve.


The religious school principal was new to her job, the BOT Officers were new to their jobs, thus, he faced a most difficult job with less then stellar transition support.  But let’s look at what he achieved:

  • Working with the Ritual Committee he revised the services to shorten them and make them more efficient
  • He established the Nosh and Drash Saturday Torah studies for those weekends without a b’nai mitzvah services
  • He established a series of great debates in Jewish history to enthrall and educate us with the arguments and wisdom of past scholars
  • His sermons were insightful, creative, and interesting.  I still remember his first to us last July which focused on George Washington’s letter to a congregation in Rhode Island
  • He supported the Rabbinic Search Committee with insight into the process and the mindset of the rabbis being interviewed.  He gave us suggestions as to the type of questions best to ask the candidates
  • He counseled those in need of counseling
  • He attended the ailing and sick
  • He performed funerals and weddings

In short, he did all the things we expected a Rabbi to do.  In one short year, he displayed those traits that make a Rabbi remarkable and memorable.  More than one congregant approached me as we did the rabbinic search and suggested we keep him on board, citing this man is unique, he’s a scholar, a teacher, a confidant, and a friend to us.  Unfortunately, it was not an option.


Rabbi Wylen is moving on to a new congregation, one that is eight miles from his permanent home in New Jersey, where he will support them for their transition year.  A year that we hope will be successful for him and his new congregation.


We want him to remember his time at Congregation Kol Haverim.  We want him to think fondly of the people in this congregation and how genuinely happy we are to have had him here at Kol Haverim albeit for only the short period of time allotted.  We want him to know how much our thoughts are filled with our very best wishes for him and his family.  With great pleasure, I would like to present this token gift to Rabbi Wylen, a man who has enlightened us, educated us, supported us, and provided us spirituality.  He is a man who will be remembered by all members of this congregation.

Mon, June 25 2018 12 Tammuz 5778