We met Rabbi Miller and Judi 6 years ago when our daughter, Laila, was ordained rabbi at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. The Millers were celebrating as well, as their son Aaron was also being ordained as a member of Laila’s class. Laila was radiant that morning. Full of confidence she looked back over the five years of study and training that she had worked so hard to achieve in Rabbinical School. After graduating college with honors and as an award winning recipient of the UM School of Judaic Studies, she was prepared. As the ordination ceremony ended and we all said “Amen” she was off, a job in hand she was ready to move to Birmingham.
Her friends and classmates asked, “Why Birmingham” of all the opportunities offered her, why go to Alabama? Without a seconds hesitation she answered, “Jonathan Miller.”
Laila had the unique experience of growing up as a “clergy kid” in Miami Beach. She grew up in a life centered by community and synagogue. She had the benefit of being surrounded by a strong clergy and learned by example from her rabbis and the teachings of our faith. Laila knew instinctively the benefit of learning from a mentor. In Pirke Avot it is stated “Acquire a teacher for yourself ”.
That teacher has been her mentor, Rabbi Miller.
In the 6 years that Laila and Jonathan worked together there were often lively discussions, study opportunities, community meetings, Shabbat dinners around the Miller family table and the day to day working together in leading the congregation through times of Simcha and sadness. Laila had found her rabbi, her mentor.
Rabbi Miller has much to be proud of. His is a legacy of “Tikun Olum” repairing the world. He has helped to repair and bring this community together with understanding, friendship, and love for others. But for the Haas family, his is a legacy of being a rabbi and teacher, a mentor and a mensch. We all learn by example. Temple Emanu El has been fortunate to receive the gift of learning and leadership from Rabbi Miller over these 27 years. We’re grateful and proud that our daughter Rabbi Laila Haas followed her kischkes, her instincts to “acquire a teacher for herself”, and in doing so she found a friend.
Nina & Cantor Steven Haas