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Feb. 28 Rabbi Ken's Departure Notice

Shaloha Dear Congregants,

I am writing to share news of an upcoming change in our spiritual leadership: our beloved Rabbi Ken has decided that it will soon be time to step down as Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El. Although we are saddened by Rabbi Ken’s upcoming departure, which will happen before the 2021 High Holidays, we are also fully supportive of his thoughtful decision to make this change in his life. View Rabbi Ken's video statement here.

Temple Emanu-El is a special and unique Jewish community with a rich and diverse culture, bound by the spirit of aloha. We are blessed with a caring, creative and hard-working staff, as well as a friendly, connected and engaged membership. One thing that is not unique about us, and that we share with many communities here and elsewhere, is that we must sometimes band together in times of change such as this.

Rabbi Ken has given his all to our community in various capacities for over 20 years. He was initially a teacher in our School of Jewish Studies (SJS), where the students called him Mr. A. He went on to become Cantorial Soloist and then Director of SJS, and then also simultaneously served as our Spiritual Leader while Rabbi Avi Magid went on sabbatical. Upon his return, Rabbi Magid “promoted” Mr. A to Mr. A+.

With energy, moxie and humor, Ken Aronowitz continued to serve as Cantorial Soloist through two rabbinic transitions. Later, Ken answered the call to become our Spiritual Leader, and finally he became our Rabbi when that was what our community needed.

Rabbi Ken has brought the broader community together: elevating our religious services and making them more meaningful, opening the Holocaust Memorial observances to the entire Honolulu community, collaborating in the Nu’uanu Interfaith Thanksgiving services, and officiating for countless life cycle events.

Rabbi Ken’s services and creativity have reached national and international audiences. When the pandemic reached our community, he and our Executive Director Richard Field worked tirelessly to adapt and provide inspiring and creative online Sabbath and High Holiday services along with rather entertaining Passover and Purim celebrations.

I want to assure everyone that while we will all miss having Rabbi Ken lead us from the bimah, and sometimes from his kitchen, the Temple Emanu-El Board of Trustees is already working on the plan to find just the right person to follow in his footsteps.

Sharing this difficult news with you, our precious members, is the first step in the process of recruiting and hiring a rabbi who fits our community’s personality and needs. We want to hear from you, to answer your questions and address your concerns. To view frequently-asked questions and submit questions, share thoughts, and indicate an interest in participating in the transition process visit

For those who are interested in participating in a Q&A session, we invite you to join us on Zoom this coming Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 4:00 PM using the following link: This will be the first of many informational gatherings and committee formations. The Board and staff will try to share as much information as we can to keep everyone up to date about the process.

Change is hard. This will be a big change. I believe, however, that if we approach this change with open minds and hearts, we will emerge to find ourselves in a new and good place as a strong congregation and a center of Jewish life in Hawai‘i.

Jackie Mild Lau, President
Temple Emanu-El Board of Trustees

Fri, June 14 2024 8 Sivan 5784