Champaign, IL — Being in a small college town, far away from any major city, Congregation Shmatte Yarmulke has had its ups and downs over the years, but none more so than their long-in-the-tooth Rabbi suffering from a smattering of heart attacks and multiple bypass surgeries. While those who attend the Synagogue are concerned that their leader has reached the end of his career, he has no such plans to make any changes.
“I may be 84 years old, but I’m a young 84 years old,” Rabbi Paul Millburn said to his congregants, in a members meeting this week. “So I’ve had a few setbacks recently, but here I sit before you, fully capable of running this congregation. Look, are most 84 year olds retired? Yes. But here’s the thing…who would be able to take over this congregation if I did retire? A lot of Messianic congregations across the entire country are having this problem. Nobody in the next generation is stepping up. Nobody is ready. And even if they were, this congregation of 30 people couldn’t pay my retirement! I’d be out on my tush. Call me stubborn, call me an alter cocker, call me what you will, but you know I’m right. I’ve survived five heart attacks, three bypass surgeries, and my pacemaker failing; I can survive you trying to overthrow me too! You’ll have to pry this congregation out of my cold, dead hands before I just give in and move to Boca.”
Though Congregation Shmatte Yarmulke is at a crossroads, as their Rabbi is rapidly aging, yet not quite ready to step down, at least they aren’t the only Messianic Congregation in this same situation. At press time, the congregation’s Assistant Rabbi could not be reached for comment.
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