Six years ago, I met Rabbi Andy Bachman during my first summer at Kutz. During the four years or so when I wanted to be a rabbi, I usually blamed that urge on him.
He’s now the senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn. They’re looking for a new cantor and an email about their search just went out on a jobs list I’m on. The email also had a link to this story about Andy in New York Magazine, which I hadn’t read before.
The story begins with an anecdote that I hadn’t heard before, but was quite familiar to me (emphasis mine):
Like many first encounters with Rabbi Andy Bachman, Leah Rosen’s didn’t take place in a synagogue. Rosen, a social worker, and her fiancé, Matt Schrag, who works in Internet advertising, were shopping for a wedding officiant and had arranged to meet their new rabbi in a Park Slope Starbucks. They’d begun chatting when a vaguely familiar song came on the sound system. The couple couldn’t place it—but Bachman, dressed as usual like an indifferent fortysomething dad, could: “The Killing Moon,” by Echo and the Bunnymen.
“We were like, ‘Oh, my God, he’s a rabbi?’” Rosen recalls.
It’s rare, of course, to find a rabbi with such indie-rock fluency—but it’s even rarer to find one who’s not flogging that knowledge in an effort to seem hip with the kids.
That summer at Kutz, I was sitting on the lawn one afternoon chatting with Andy. His dog, Nathan, was puttering around sniffing the grass. His wife, Rachel, was hanging out with their three girls, one of whom kept calling Nathan “the idiot,” as I distinctly remember. The conversation I was having with Andy at this moment was the one that convinced me for years that I should be a rabbi.
And in the middle of all of this, Rachel said something like, “Oh, Andy. Remember to get those Arcade Fire tickets when we get back to the city.”
I was similarly blown away.