For over four decades, Eric Wisnia has been the rabbi of Congregation Beth Chaim. Now, 42 years later, he's ready to retire.
"I got old," Wisnia joked. "They need a young generation and new leadership."
The 69-year-old came to Beth Chaim in 1977. A time when West Windsor was a different place.
"There were no traffic lights and houses in West Windsor," Wisnia recalls. "Everyone lived in East Windsor and Hightstown."
The community was so small back then, mail wouldn't even get delivered to the synagogue.
"We had to rent a post office box in Hightstown," said Wisnia.
The synagogue was also surrounded by cornfields. It was even known as "the little shule in the cornfield." The Jewish community was also big which helped the synagogue grow.
Eventually, times changed. Jewish popular became smaller and the Asian one has gotten bigger. This made the community more diverse but also changed things for Congregation Beth Chaim.
"It grew rapidly and stayed large for 20-30 years," Wisnia remembers. "It's shrinking a little bit."
Despite having a religious school of over 500 students, the hebrew school enrollment has decreased and the senior one has increased. This has left the synagogue to focus more on adult programming.
Although the synagogue has experienced changes, Wisnia still sees it more vibrant in the future just with a different generation of congregants.
"In the future I see Beth Chaim staying right here," Wisnia explained. "More vibrant with older people and not as much focused on youth. Will always attract young families but not to the numbers we did."
His plans after retirement are to spend more time with his wife and possibly write a book about The Civil War.
"It's my hobby and I'm thinking about and working on it," said the rabbi.
What Wisnia will miss most about Beth Chaim is simply the people.
"They are my family and I'll miss being part of that," explained the rabbi. They will also miss him as his work will remain unforgotten.
"He's a loyal friend who will acknowledge your presence with a hug whether you're sharing joy or sorrow," said former Beth Chaim Congregant Todd Siben. "We have been blessed to have him as a spiritual leader and educator in the community for all these years!"