Shalom, Rabbi Astor

Rabbi Carl Astor, who retires at the end of the month after 32 years at New London's Congregation Beth El, has been a leader in the region's Jewish community, offering generations of congregants comfort and guidance during all of life's major events, from birth to marriage to death.

But he also has helped promote interfaith relations, has long been involved in social causes and has been a teacher as well as a trusted friend and adviser to many, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Rabbi Astor, along with the Rev. Benjamin K. Watts, pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in New London, and Monsignor Robert L. Brown of the Norwich diocese became known as the "God Squad" that lectured on social and ethical issues during interfaith services at the Pequot Chapel in New London.

The rabbi, a member of the New London Clergy Association, has also for the past 30 years delivered the "Greetings from the Jewish Community" at Shiloh's service that honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

An avid kayaker, runner, tennis player and bicyclist - he and his wife, Sharon, often can be seen pedaling their tandem bike or paddling their tandem kayak - Rabbi Astor also is an accomplished violinist. Saturday night he helped entertain several hundred congregants, friends and relatives during the annual Harold Juli Memorial Cantor's Concert that was part of a weekend celebration in his honor at the Ocean Avenue synagogue.

After the performance, Rabbi Astor told the crowd that in the past when people asked about his background he always said he was from New York. Now, he said, he will say "New London."

"This is my home," he said.

We are delighted that the Astors will remain here in his retirement, and wish them much continued good health and happiness.

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