While Donsky has no firm plans post-retirement, he said that he will remain in Pittsburgh.
“I don’t know what the future will hold,” Donsky said, “but I trust there will be opportunities for spiritual growth.”
Donsky came to Ohav Shalom, a Reform congregation of about 200 families, in 1997 after having served as director of Pittsburgh’s Hillel Jewish University Center for four years. Prior to that, he served for four years as a rabbi at a congregation in Miami Beach, Fla.
Although he just announced his plans to retire last week, Donsky said he made his decision to leave Ohav Shalom two years ago while he was on sabbatical. The spring of 2014 will mark 25 years that Donsky has served in the rabbinate, and he will receive an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion accordingly.
Donsky said he is ready to forge forward, despite being unsure of what lies ahead.
“Sometimes you just have to take a leap and know that a net will appear,” he said, adding that he is looking forward to focusing on personal growth.
“Two and a half years ago, I got into recovery for food addiction,” Donsky said. “That was a major turning point in my life. I am not the same person I was two and half years ago.”
He said that getting himself into shape awakened in him the importance of the notion of self-care.
“I realized two and half years ago that you have to take care of yourself first,” he said. “I’m going to turn 58 a month after I retire. God willing, I will have a lot of years left. I am going to take things one day at a time.”
“Leaving Ohav Shalom will bring a mixture of sadness and joy,” he continued. “I have made a lot of wonderful relationships here.”
The congregation will be assembling a “transition team” within the next 60 days to begin looking for Donsky’s successor, said Ohav Shalom President Ken Eisner.
“We’re eternally grateful for all Rabbi Donsky has done for the temple,” Eisner said. “He has no doubt touched people’s lives through the various aspects of his services as our spiritual leader. And we appreciate that he has given us ample time to find his successor.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)