Since 1983, Rabbi Ronald Androphy has been a staple at the East Meadow Beth-El Jewish Center, and throughout the East Meadow community. Now, after 40 years, Androphy has announced his retirement. And on March 19, hundreds of people came down to the center to celebrate Androphy’s retirement.
The story goes that on a rainy night, Androphy was traveling from upstate Elmira to East Meadow after applying to be the new rabbi of the then East Meadow Jewish Center. Flights were being delayed and canceled, and he didn’t make it to the center for the original meeting time. He contemplated turning back, but decided that he should continue on his path to East Meadow.
That story was the first indicator of his dedication and passion for the Jewish religion and how he was a natural leader. Over the years some things have changed at the center — such as the congregation merging with Temple Beth-El of Bellmore in 2021 to become the East Meadow Beth-El Jewish Center — but Androphy has been the one constant. And many congregation members are sad to see him go.
Barbara Schreibman, a longtime congregant of the center was on the committee that originally chose Androphy to be the rabbi. “He came here as a young man, not one grey hair,” Schreibman joked. “When you have so many members, some agree, some disagree, but he has cultivated us in a most positive way.”
Schreibman considers Androphy to be her mensch, which in Yiddish, means a person of integrity, morality, dignity, with a sense of what is right and responsible.
“There has been such a great outpouring of love and affection for a man who has for 40 years been a leader, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, so much to so many people,” David Wayne, the co-president of the center said. “He’s a model and an inspiration for all of us.”
Eleanor Goldman, who has known Androphy since he started at East Meadow Beth-El, said it’s going to be very different now that he’s retiring. Goldman is a very active member of the center, and was even one of the original members of the bible study classes that Androphy led.
“We enjoyed having him when he first came, and he has developed into such a wonderful mentor, teacher, just everything,” she said. “He’s got a warm human heart and also the most remarkable memory of anybody. He makes everybody feel important and known.”
Many congregants at the gala spoke about how Androphy knows the name and Hebrew name of everyone in his synagogue. No matter their age, he knows who they are.
“He’s a very nice, genuine, loving, respectful, compassionate man,” Warren Berkowtiz, a past center president and the co-chair of the gala, said. “He’s very well respected for his knowledge, and he’s been a part of our family for 40 years, maybe even more than the average person.”
After the cocktail hour, everyone made their way into the sanctuary to hear people speak about Androphy’s time as rabbi. There was laughter, and maybe a few tears, but overall a love for Androphy was clear.
Androphy spent time thanking everyone who made his time as rabbi wonderful. He gave thanks to his wife, Nancy, for always being by his side and for stepping up when he couldn’t be around, and he thanked his four children, for being the best “preacher’s kids.”
“I want to thank all of you, the members of the East Meadow Beth-El Jewish Center, for the privilege of serving as your rabbi for the past four decades,” Androphy said. “It truly has been a pleasure.”