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RSW Living Magazine


May 02, 2023 04:10PM ● By Tanya Hochschild

Bat Yam Temple of the Islands enjoyed a special shabbat on April 28, honoring Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, who a few weeks earlier had announced his retirement. He has served as Bat Yam’s Rabbi for six years.

Our sanctuary in the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, remains damaged from the hurricane and we had to seek another venue. Peace Lutheran Church kindly offered to accommodate ourselves and our many guests from SCUCC, friends of the Fuchs’ from Beachview Tennis Club and their neighbors from their Sanibel Community of Farm Trail. 38 people watching on zoom brought the number to over 100 people celebrating with the Fuchs.

Rabbi Stephen Fuchs and Rabbi/Cantor Sunny Schnitzer

 Following the shabbat service, which was enhanced by the beautiful voices of the two cantors, the congregation listened to speeches by dignitaries from both congregations, which included Cantor Murray Simon, recently retired from Bat Yam Temple of the Islands, Reverend John Danner, recently retired from SCUCC, the current Pastor Dr. Mark Boyea, Alan Lessack, a two-term President (He was President at the start of Rabbi Stephen’s time with Bat Yam) and Rabbi/Cantor Sunny Schnitzer, our incoming Rabbi. 

Rabbi Stephen Fuchs and Pastor Dr. Mark Boyea

 Several presentations followed. Cantor Simon’s retirement celebration after Yom Kippur, was postponed due to the arrival of Ian. Now he and Toby, his wife were recognized for their service and friendship to Bat Yam. A gift was made to the memory of their late daughter, Rachel for the Rachel Simon Theater Project in Israel.

Reverend John Danner expressing the strong bond he and Rabbi Fuchs developed when jointly leading their congregations.

Reverend Danner’s heartfelt speech indicated the strong bond he and Rabbi Fuchs have developed, jointly leading their congregations to Israel, exchanging pulpits over the years and a mutual love of puppets. Reverend Danner presented Rabbi Fuchs with an angel puppet he had made.

Bat Yam’s President, Janice Block-Chaddock presented Rabbi Fuchs with a beautifully bound book, written by congregants from both the church and the temple and filled with pictures, entitled “Finding Ourselves in the Teachings of Rabbi Stephen Fuchs.” She also presented both Rabbi and Mrs. Vickie Fuchs with two gold lapel pins designed by Scot and Melissa Congress, showing a Magen David enfolding the island of Sanibel.  

The evening ended with a celebratory feast provided by Bat Yam congregants, during which many comments were heard, “So proud to know such a charismatic Jewish leader,”

“The Rabbi is beloved by his community,” “So happy to be here to honor your loving service to

Rabbi Stephen Fuchs and Reverend John Danner

Bat Yam family,” “Mazeltov! Thank you for all you have contributed to our lives.” “You elevated our knowledge and love of Judaism.”

The Fuchs have decided to continue living on Sanibel, to enjoy sunrise and sunset walks on the beaches and to play tennis. Vickie Fuchs says she looks forward to seeing the congregation continue to thrive and so it is not good-bye. It is bientôt! See you soon!