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Rabbi Barry Marks

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Photo by Joseph Copely

Rabbi Barry Marks

Winner of the State Journal-Register First Citizen award? Check – Rabbi Barry Marks added that to his resume more than a dozen years ago. Tolerant of other viewpoints? Check, again – he helped found the Greater Springfield Interfaith Association. A thoughtful, eloquent speaker who sounds like a man ahead of his time? Consider what he told his audience a half-dozen years ago at a mayor’s prayer breakfast: “We may give generously to charity and expend numerous volunteer hours on behalf of worthy causes, but, as the sociologists have observed, we as Americans have failed to articulate a compelling ideology of why people should work for the common good. … This, I believe, is the most urgent task for people of faith: to articulate and promote such an ideology and convey it our young people, our future generations.” Two years ago, Marks, who spoke at length about his life for an oral history project at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, said that he considered himself more a teacher than a preacher, someone who tries to be a community builder. But he’s still a pretty good preacher. Enjoy him while you can. He recently announced that he will step down from the Temple Israel pulpit in July. “You have been a wonderful congregation, and I am grateful for your commitment and dedication, for your warmth, generosity and friendship, and for the opportunity to serve as your rabbi for these many years,” he wrote in a farewell message to congregants this month.

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