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		                            <span class="slider_description">In Memory of Rabbi Emeritus S. Jerome Wallin</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Chanukah 1976</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Chanukah 1976</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Passover 1977</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Rabbi Wallin with graduating class of 1977</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Sukkot 1980 at the home of the Pecks</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Rabbi Wallin with graduating class of 1981</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">March 1981</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Israel Independence Day 1981</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Rabbi Wallin with graduating class of 1982</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">1982</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">1982</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Rabbi Wallin with graduating class of 1983</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Rabbi Wallin with graduating class of 1984</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Rabbi and Roz Wallin - May 1984</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Rabbi Wallin with graduating class of 1985</span>
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		                            <span class="slider_description">Rabbi Wallin with graduating class of Merkaz in 1988</span>

In Memory of Rabbi Emeritus S. Jerome Wallin z"l

Congregation B'nai Torah members who knew Rabbi Wallin during his 36 years with the synagogue will be sharing their memories of his time as their spiritual leader.  If you would like to add to the memorial page please email us.

David Knepler

Thinking of Rabbi Wallin always brings a smile to my face.  Not that I wouldn't spend a lot of time thinking up ways to get out of going to Hebrew School or Junior Congregation...
 
Our family and Rabbi Wallin go back to Day One...and even before.  The Rabbi used to tell me that it was my father, Abraham, of blessed memory, who picked him up at the train station on his way to his first interview for the job.  I also recall how the women of B'nai Torah would swoon over the new young (married) handsome Rabbi, referring to him as Rabbi Wallintino (in homage to another heartthrob of yesteryear, Rudolf Valentino)
 
My brother Michael, I think, was in the first Bar and Bat Mitzvah class, in 1964.  My Bar Mitzvah was several years later in 1968.  I recall a particularly painful moment that year when the Rabbi asked our class to debate the merits of the upcoming election, Nixon vs Humphrey (well, George Wallace too, but we couldn't go that far...)  He assigned me to debate on Nixon's behalf, knowing full well that would be a tremendous stretch for me.  I'm sure I couldn't come up with anything especially convincing, but it did teach me to look at issues and people from different perspectives, and to look for the good in those I might otherwise disagree with.
 
When I read The Chosen by Chaim Potok not too long ago I thought also of Rabbi Wallin, recalling what a big fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers he was, and wondering if he had ever contemplated a non rabbinical path.  I also wondered what it was like for him personally, as he had Orthodox inclinations, to lead a Conservative congregation.
 
Of course, our house was located next to B'nai Torah, so it was difficult for me to actually miss classes or services. But the Rabbi (often with his family) would take a shortcut through our yard as he made his walk to shul on Shabbat or Holidays.  We would try to remember to take in our family dog in during those times, but not always...but leave it to Rabbi Wallin to make friends with our Barney, who he renamed Beryl.
 
When Karen and I became parents, we flew from California to Connecticut because we wanted Rabbi Wallin to preside over the baby naming of our first daughter.  When my parents passed it was only Rabbi Wallin that we wanted to lead the service.
 
My grandparents, Pauline and Samuel J. Klahr, donated the land for B'nai Torah.  My parents, Bertha and Abraham Knepler, were among the handful that helped create B'nai Torah.  Rabbi Wallin built B'nai Torah.
 
Rest in peace, my teacher.
 
 
David Knepler

The Coopers

Were someone to ask me which person I have met in my life (other than my father or mother) that I have honored and respected the most, Rabbi Wallin would easily rise above all others.

 
It is not that I attended services so much that I became intimately familiar with each and every speech he delivered on the Sabbath.  And it is not only because my mom and dad felt so comfortable when in his presence.  Rather, my admiration for Rabbi Wallin could grow only when I became changing from a young boy to a man and a father, so that I could see his greatness from a more enlightened and mature perspective.
 
Were services for Rabbi Wallin have been held in our own town there would have no building large enough to hold all the people he has touched so warmly, and not just Jews.
I know many who enjoyed his interfaith classes at local colleges and there was nary a local Priest or Pastor who didn't relish a friendly religious discussion with him.
 
But my post  precious memories come not from the larger events.  
 
Rabbi Wallin derived much pleasure in marrying Judy and me over 41 years ago and we delighted in having him officiate.
 
When Judy and I moved into our new home, we were so pleased that Rabbi Wallin offered to come and show us the proper way to install our mezzuahs.
 
Twenty years after our wedding, the Rabbi would recall with a smile our first son's Pidyon Haben and the "nice" man who we enlisted so we were able to have a minyon.
He also could recall our four children's Hebrew names and who they were named after.
 
As our children arrived, we knew there was no other place to send them but to the new B'nai Torah Nursery School of which the Rabbi was most proud.  Also, my mom
would take great delight in telling me what took place at Rabbi Wallin's senior classes.
 
But I selfishly reserve my fondest memories of this great man for that special morning before Passover when I would awake early to sit with Rabbi Wallin and other proud
fathers and buy back my first born son.  The Rabbi would delight in telling us about the passage in the Torah that he was studying.  He would read a sentence in Hebrew, translate and discuss what was the meaning and intent of each word and phrase.  I would listen intently and be mesmerized by the dedication and affection Rabbi Wallin felt for the Jewish religion.
 
I am sure countless other friends and congregants have much the same feelings for Rabbi Wallin as we do, as we share our precious memories of a man whose legacy has and will continue to inspire us and our descendants.  
 
Judy and Mel Cooper

Rabbi Steven (Shlomo) Zacharow

In Memory of my Rabbi, Rabbi Wallin

I had the privilege of growing up in Trumbull, CT in the 1970’s and 1980’s and attending the finest three-day Hebrew School in the area, that of Congregation B’nai Torah.  The highlight of the week was always the latter part of Wednesday afternoons, which alternated weekly between an Oneg Shabbat where we the students got a “taste” of the upcoming Shabbat and the school assemblies.  In the latter, a determined Rabbi Wallin would instill in us ruah (spirit) as he implored us to sing louder and louder an assortment of liturgical melodies.  Who could forget the annual Model Pesah Seder where one sly student would crawl under the tables to stealthily remove the afikoman from Rabbi Wallin’s pillow?  Or the end of the year where we would descend to the Rabbi’s office and cash in Mitzvah points for attending services and receive gifts ranging from a havdalah candle to the prized Kiddush cup?

For many students, their Bar or Bat Mitzvah was the last time they would see the inside of the synagogue’s sanctuary until Rosh Hashanah.  For me, like Rabbi Wallin often professed, the Bar Mitzvah was really the beginning.  I became a “regular” along with all of the various “old-timers” and other characters that made the Shabbat morning davening experience an established part of their lives.  The Rabbi had complete commitment to his students and belief in their potential.  Not a Shabbat would go by where I would not be called upon to “call out aliyas” or lead Shaharit or Musaf.  Everyone in the congregation had a role, whether it was announcing the page numbers of the Torah readings or participating in the lively Torah discussions.  The Rabbi was very proud of the fact that the youngsters recited the Mishebarakhim for the people who had Aliyot.  He didn’t care if it wasn’t “prestigious” enough for some.  What was important was that the youth were involved and coming to shul.  When the Rabbi was away, he began to turn to me and his other loyal students in order to replace him on the Bimah.  I was 15 years old at the time.

Although it took me a while to find my “true calling,” there is no doubt that during this period the seeds were planted inside of me for my eventual Rabbinical studies.  Whenever I came home from college, I ran to B’nai Torah for Shabbat services.  After university, I made aliyah to Israel and eventually was accepted to Rabbinical school with the aid of a recommendation written by Rabbi Wallin.

Who would have believed it that a boy from small town America could become a Rabbi in the holy city of Jerusalem!?  This is in no small part due to the investment of my spiritual mentor, Rabbi Wallin.  True, the suspect decorum of “New Yorkers” was always one of Rabbi's favorite gibes, but this also reflected his belief in and dedication to the far-flung Jews of Trumbull, CT.

I also thank the Rabbi for recruiting and enabling my dad to be so involved in the davening at the shul, as this became a very important part of my parents' lives. My sister, Paula, also benefited greatly and as an adult even tutored Bar/Bat Mitzvah students and taught Hebrew school for a time, equipped with what she learned so long ago. 

Rabbi Wallin was a torchbearer who commitment to B’nai Torah was absolute for 36 years.  All of this was possible because of the Rabbi’s unswerving belief in the omnipotence of the God of Israel and in the power of Torah, which is our “Tree of Life.”  In an age of relativism, Rabbi Wallin remained steadfast in his vision.

By the way, Rabbi, I thought you’d like to know that one of the first changes I made when I became a congregational Rabbi was to have the post- Bar/Bat Mitzvah students call out the Aliyot and say the Mishebarakhim.  The veteran Gabai didn’t like this very much but now everyone has seen the wisdom behind the move.  Also, the tunes I still sing are the ones I learned at those school assemblies. The way I conduct my Pesah Seder is the way I learned at the Model Seders. The Kiddush cup I used for many years was the one that I received as a prize so long ago.

Rabbi Wallin, as you were inseparable from your Rebbetzin in this world, may you be comforted in your reunification in the next.

Your memory is already a blessing.

The Fodor Family

I was born and lived my first 10 years of my life in Budapest Hungary.  My mother brought my brother and me to the US in 1972 with no religious education at all.  My family met with Rabbi Wallin who immediately took my brother and I under his personal care and planned out how he was going  to help us get a Jewish education and catch up with all our studies so we would have  everything we need for  our Bar mitzvah on time. My brother was only 7 years old so he was ok with time but I only had 3 years to get 6 years of Jewish education and prayers to accomplish. 

I started in 1st grade with Mrs. Wallin, then Rabbi Wallin asked his 2 daughters (Judy and Debbie) to personally tutor me in the summer so I can skip 2 grades. Then the same for the following summer. During all that time he personally worked with me to be the best I can be in all my Jewish studies. I spent many times at Saturday morning services and I got to participate in the services as well as get to know the Rabbi's 2 sons Neil and Gary as well. 
 
Rabbi Wallin also encouraged me to continue beyond my Bar mitzvah and every year he would call me to lead or to do a part in the shabbat service for my Haftorah anniversary. He always made it a point to call me and guide me to be always connected with Judaism and B'nai Torah.
 
Rabbi Wallin met with my wife and me so we can plan out our future together and be a part of the synagogue and the community. 
We were fortunate to have Rabbi Wallin also be able to be involved with my kids when they were first starting in Hebrew school. He always made it a point to let me know how much he liked teaching them as well.  
 
My family and I will miss him and I personally will never forget and always treasure how much he did and how much he cared for me to help achieve my goals in Judaism. 
 
To Neil Judy Debbie and Gary. Your Father was a great spiritual leader, a great mentor and a dear friend to my whole family.  We will cherish all the great memories we have together. 
 -Peter­­

The Levi Family

To the Levi family Rabbi Wallin was indeed like family – very special and much loved. From the early days of Hebrew School, Shabbat and Holiday Services through the happy times celebrating Simchas with us at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, Weddings, Anniversaries, and Baby Namings, to the sad times in later years helping and supporting us during funerals and the difficult days of Shiva, Mourning, Kaddish and Yahrezeits, he was always there with us - for us.  He taught us many special lessons that we still fondly recall, cherish and follow today – like Ruach and Decorum in the synagogue; like those special Hebrew letters that belong at the top of a card or an invitation; like respect and decency toward others.  He was strict, but he was fair and genuine, and when it came to upholding Judaism, we all knew we could trust that he would not compromise his beliefs or bend the rules.  His gentle manner and real sincerity touched us all.  May his memory be for a blessing; we will never forget him.

To Debbie, Judy, Neil, Gary, and their families: it is with heavy hearts that we extend our deepest sympathy.  Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. May your beautiful memories help you heal during this most difficult time.

Marilyn Levi, Wendy and Blake Lenett, Terri and Jeff Levi, Sheryl and Steve Hersch

Amy Ilowitz Singer

My first memory of Rabbi Wallin it was one of the spring holidays, probably Passover. I remember this because I was five or six years old and was wearing a white straw bonnet with fake daisies and ribbons on it. I believe we were having services at the Trumbull Grange because I remember waiting outside under the trees. My visual perspective was mostly of congregants tushes, but I do remember him weaving through the crowd, greeting people. He seemed very tall to me and I heard the women commenting on how handsome he was. He was a young, enthusiastic Rabbi and when I hear holiday songs and prayers, it is often his voice that sings in my mind. He was the spiritual advisor to three generations of my family. He Bar and Bat Mitzvah'd me and my brothers, officiated at my wedding and my son’s bris, as well as my daughter’s naming ceremony. He then became my children’s Rabbi and Bar and Bat Mitzvah'd them.

Being a dynamic person, people seemed to have many things to say about him. What I remember most vividly was how extraordinary a teacher he was. He taught me how to think critically and how to debate, by presenting evidence and refuting the opposing view. He made me comfortable standing up in front of the whole congregation and speaking or leading prayers. He shared spiritual teachings that have stayed with me all my life and helped me to define the person I am.

I continued taking adult education courses from him after I was married and became a young mother. One of my favorite interactions occurred during and after a class when we were discussing the part of the Pirkei Avot that dealt with relationships between men and women. The discussion went around how laws about women’s dress were because men had little self-control and women had to protect themselves from male crudity and advances. Now, I was a young woman who came of age in the 60s and 70s and I considered this interpretation unfair to women’s rights. Why should women be held responsible because men couldn’t control their urges? There was a very exuberant discussion that followed, and I remember Rabbi Wallin saying that I had to admit that some women really did dress provocatively. He and I were still discussing this as everyone made their way to the front doors until the two of us were the only ones left. It was a freezing night in winter. I wrapped my scarf around my neck, put on my wool hat, zipped up my parka, and pulled on my lined leather gloves. I looked like the Michelin Man. Rabbi Wallin asked me to wait until he locked up, so he could walk me to my car. I looked down at my bundled-up self, looked back up at my Rabbi and grinned, “I didn’t mean to dress so provocatively tonight.” He grinned back at me and then we both laughed, realizing, of course, that we were both right.

The world should be a safer place and yes, we only have the power to control our own actions. The most important thing Rabbi Wallin taught me was that the thousands of years of Jewish law, teachings, and traditions boil down to one thing: to do the best we can to be a good person who lives by demonstrating kindness and integrity and to model those attributes in interactions with others, because that is how the world will become a better place. I have missed his presence in my life for many years, but he will always be alive in my heart.

The Rosnicks

Rabbi Wallin was a well respected Rabbi in our community.

He was an inspiration for our children and we feel blessed to have known
him. We have fond memories of him walking through the congregation on the
High Holy Days and stopping to smile and greet each member of our family.

He will be fondly remembered .

Anita & Hal

The Friedman Family

Rabbi Wallin presided over our three sons’ Bar Mitzvahs and two weddings, one of which was in Boston! We are all very saddened by his death.

My personal memory involved our Hanukkah musical that was first presented for the children at B’nai Torah. Just before we went on, Rabbi asked me, “Are there any bad words in it?” I assured him there were none. Our cast of 9 women went on to tour with it to the elementary schools in Trumbull. Finally, after many years, I was asked to teach it to all the  6th grade students at Tashua School.  Rabbi Wallin appeared that day and gave out dreydels to all. I was very proud that he was there and enjoyed the show so much.

Our deepest condolences and love to the family.

-Roz, Art, Roger, Paul and Lori, Mark and Maxine, Hannah and Charlotte.

The Tobin Family

My mother Gertrude Tobin Edelman had such a very strong affection and love for Rabbi Wallin that it always brought tears to my eyes.

Every year at the High Holidays when my Mother came up from Florida for the Holidays she loved when Rabbi Wallin would walk around saying hello to the members, she could not wait until he got to her. She would light up and have the greatest smile that I still remember and it has been more than 35 years. When she got sick and she was living with us in Trumbull, Rabbi Wallin would come visit her and he would just sit and hold her hand, it was the best medicine that my Mother could have.

-Ephraim

The Arron Family

He was such a wonderful man, as well as Rabbi.  He brought meaning and understanding of what it meant to be a proud Jew. His ways may have been considered too conservative to some but to me and my family he instilled precepts that we carry with us always.
 
May he rest among the noble in heaven.
 
-Vivian & Mitchell

 

The Elias Family

For 36 years Rabbi Wallin, z"l was B'nai Torah. A few nights ago I dreamt I was at a service led by him in a large sanctuary. My dream placed that sanctuary on an upper floor which does not actually exist in ha-olam hazeh. Perhaps his spirit is leading services somewhere in ha-oam habah along with former congregants who have preceeded him.

If you're in contact with Gary, Deborah or any other family members, please convey my condolences, those of my children whom he taught, and those of my wife. We all thank Hashem for the lessons Rabbi Wallin taught us and for the new spirit that Rabbi Colin is adding to that legacy.

-Norm

The Zakim Family

Rabbi Wallin holds a special place in my heart and in my mind. He married Judy and I, he was there for our family in times of joy & despair, and his relationship with my Father In Law helped teach me what it means to have relationship with your religious leader. Most vividly (for me) is the impromptu joyful Yiddish conversation (from the Bimah) Rabbi Wallin had with my ailing Grandfather just after Judy and I exchanged our vows.
 
I am sure there are many similar memories like this of Rabbi Wallin. I encourage all #mensches to share and recall those memories either to those close to you, with family of Rabbi Wallin, or right here in this group.
-Jeff

 

Thu, August 6 2020 16 Av 5780