Rabbi Adi Cohen, chair of the Moetzah, shares a heartfelt farewell to Rabbi Brent Gutmann (pictured), who has served as rabbi of Beth Shalom in Auckland for the past three years.
Three years after their arrival to Auckland NZ, as the rabbinic contract ends, Rabbi Gutmann, Jill and their girls are relocating back to the U.S.A.
During the past three years, Rabbi Gutmann has made an indelible imprint in a great number of areas in his congregation, community, and region.
At home at Beth Shalom, he inspired more dynamic and musically vibrant services, and attracted a minyan more consistently than any other congregation in New Zealand. Rabbi Gutmann has enhanced a number of Beth Shalom’s special observances including Slichot, Simchat Torah, Purim, and Shavuot. He contributed to expanding Beth Shalom’s Shabbaton retreat into the largest annual gathering of any Jewish congregation in New Zealand.
Rabbi Gutmann would not have been so successful if not for the support of his wife, Jill. Rabbi Gutmann and Jill welcomed congregants into their home constantly during their time in New Zealand. Together they co-founded Beth Shalom’s popular 20/30’s young adult group and co-created a beloved Tot Shabbat program.
The couple restructured the congregations Community Care committee to support their members and singularly developed Beth Shalom’s landmark Jewish chamber music concert entitled “Echoes of the Eternal," which brought esteem to Beth Shalom in the eyes of Aucklanders and significantly contributed to the congregation's 2015 budget.
Rabbi Gutmann and Jill shared knowledge through robust, regular adult learning courses and were integral to the “Auckland Florence Melton School’s” Faculty. Rabbi Gutmann also served on the Faculty of the Auckland Catholic Mercy Spirituality Centre and as an Executive Board Member of the Auckland Interfaith Council.
He grew Beth Shalom in a demographically static Jewish community, created new revenue streams and encouraged more efficient financial management which allowed the congregation for the first time to simultaneously balance their annual budget and support the presence of a Rabbi.
Rabbi Gutmann brought Auckland’s two Jewish congregations, Beth Shalom and Gray’s Avenue closer than ever before through close relationships with Rabbis Altschul and Friedler.
Rabbi Gutmann is well regarded through our region. As the only Progressive Rabbi in New Zealand for over two years, He consulted with congregations in Dunedin, Hamilton, Christchurch and Wellington and has been an active and constructive member of the Moetzah (Union for Progressive Judaism Rabbinic Assembly).
I would like to express my gratitude to Rabbi Gutmann and his family for their passionate contribution to our region and wish him growth, satisfaction and joy with his new congregation in the States
Rabbi Adi Cohen, Temple David , Perth WA