Rabbinic Search Committee Update

February 14, 2019

The Search Committee has been hard at work on its Board-mandated goal of finding “the best fit full-time Senior Rabbi for Beth Jacob by July 1, 2019”. No surprise that it is a challenging job and there is no quick and easy straightforward path. We are making steady progress toward this goal on behalf of the entire congregation.

In our last update, we reported that the Search Committee was meeting every two weeks, had submitted a strong application to the Rabbinical Assembly (RA) and that we were starting to receive applications. At the same time, members of the Committee were having outreach conversations with over 80 individual contacts.

Through discussions with shuls that had completed similar searches last year, we had set our expectations that we would have received 10-15 applications by 12/31/18 and that we would be scheduling in-person interviews with three or four candidates by this time.

Our path hasn’t matched that trajectory and we would like to tell you why we think that is the case, where we are right now, and what our next steps will be.

As of 1/31/19, we had received seven applications. We dismissed four as not being qualified for our position. We requested additional materials from the three remaining applicants and were sufficiently impressed with each of them that we invited them to do video conference interviews with all 14 of us on three separate Sundays. Those interviews were intense and informative and we gathered a lot more information.

Following the final video conference interviews, one additional applicant was dismissed, a second applicant withdrew, which left us with one remaining applicant. After much deep and thoughtful discussion and consideration, the Committee voted not to invite the remaining candidate for an in-person interview at this time. While this was an arduous decision, the Committee knows that there are advantages as well as distinct disadvantages in inviting a single candidate to interview.

This past week, we received an eighth promising applicant and we have requested additional written materials. We will review those materials, make a decision about a video interview and then take next steps from there.

That’s where we are. Why are we here and not where we expected to be?

The RA informs us that there are 150% more shuls searching for senior rabbis this year than last year, and therefore the applicant pool is much thinner. Other congregations, they report, are experiencing the same thing we are. The RA is committed to helping us meet our goal and we understand from them that it is entirely reasonable to expect that our process may take two years, instead of just one.

We are considering our options and with board approval, we plan to submit an application with the RA for an Interim Rabbi before Passover should we feel we are unable to meet our original goal. The earliest we can do this, according to RA rules, is April 15th. And doing so would not preclude continuing our original search for a full-time senior rabbi through this cycle. And we would be able to again post our application for the next search cycle.

Our Committee is working diligently, dedicated to Beth Jacob congregation, and completely committed to doing what we believe is right for the congregation.

We know you will have questions for us, so we are scheduling an “after Kiddush” conversation for Saturday, February 23, 2019. Please join members of the Committee for this conversation; and while we will not be discussing specific candidates, we will discuss our process and will do our best to answer your questions. Thank you for your continuing support and confidence.

Shabbat Shalom,
Ricka Kohnstamm and Rosanne Zaidenweber
Search Committee Co-Chairs

December 1, 2018

In our last update, we provided a detailed description of the preparation of the Beth Jacob Senior Rabbi Application which was posted on the website of the Rabbinical Assembly in late October. The search committee is very proud of this application, and we have now posted it on the Transition and Search Timeline page of our shul website for all to see. You can also access it here. We think it does a good job of describing our community and its values and presents a clear picture of what we are seeking in our next rabbinic leader.

And now, the next phase of our work in the rabbinic search has begun. We are receiving applications, and expect that we will continue accepting applications for another two weeks. We have carefully reviewed resumes and cover letters and have asked some of the applicants to provide additional written materials, including examples of a sermon, a eulogy and detailed answers to some philosophical and background questions. Once we have reviewed these materials, we will invite applicants to participate in a video interview with the entire committee. We have worked extensively on the questions and the format for these interviews, and expect that we will have a good sense of the applicants after speaking to them in this way. And if we conclude that there are appropriate candidates, the next step will be to invite them to visit our shul community so that they can become acquainted with us, and we can continue to delve into who they are and whether they are a good fit for Beth Jacob, with many opportunities for the entire community to be involved. We expect this will happen in late January/early February.

We know this is a liminal time in our community, when it is important for all of us to know as much as possible about what is happening and to trust that the leadership is moving forward to address the change that is occurring as we transition to a new period in the life of Beth Jacob. To that end, we are committed to being as open as we can about the search process while still maintaining necessary confidentiality. We also believe communication among us is critical to make sure that the search committee and the transition committee connect with members of the congregation and that we all feel that we have the opportunity to provide feedback and talk about the process.

The Havdalah gatherings planned for December 15, 2018, are such an opportunity for congregants to reconnect with each other and provide feedback to the transition and search committees. This is a continuation of the conversations that began last year with the Congregational Survey and Conversations. We encourage everyone who is able to participate in a Havdalah gathering and conversation; we believe this type of gathering can enrich our relationships and provide support and comfort in a transitional time.

We thank you for your trust and support.

Ricka Kohnstamm and Rosanne Zaidenweber
Search Committee Co-Chairs

September 2018

The Rabbinic Search Committee has been working very hard over the summer primarily on the enormous task of preparing Beth Jacob’s Application to be posted on the Rabbinical Assembly website. This is the first step in the rabbinic search process.

This lengthy application requires the congregation to focus on how we want to present ourselves to potential candidates, and includes everything one might want to know about Beth Jacob, from the basic data (how many families, how many people attend on a regular Shabbat, etc.) to our mission, history, accomplishments, challenges, vision, and the qualities we want in a new senior rabbi to help lead us into the next stage in the life of our community and our shul.

Our committee has worked incredibly diligently synthesizing the information gathered from the community survey and the congregational conversations, as well as the stories from our founding members, the original position description, and many other documents and conversations we have gathered over the years. The result is a beautiful piece of writing that truly expresses and reflects who we are as a congregation and our hopes and dreams for the future of this community. The application has been finalized, edited, and reviewed by both the entire search committee and the executive committee, and the responses to it from these groups have been enthusiastic.

We are now anticipating that the application will be posted on the Rabbinical Assembly website after the holidays. After that, we expect we will begin receiving and reviewing candidate applications. We also hope to provide a version of the application that can be accessed by all members of the congregation; we are that proud of it, and believe you will be too!

We invite you to reach out to any of the committee members with questions, concerns, or just to talk about the process. We want to keep you updated as we go along. As a reminder, committee members include Arielle Ehrlich, Barbie Levine, Laurie Fink, Laura Broder, Marvin Pertzik, Mickey Minsberg, Nina Samuels, Randi Roth, Ryan Lohr, Stuart Bear, Tamar Resnick and Benj Kamm. You can also reach the two of us directly by e-mail at bjrabbincalsearchchairs@gmail.com.

Wishing everyone the blessings of a happy, healthy and sweet New Year. It will be an exciting one for all of us as we move into the future at Beth Jacob.

Shana Tovah,
Ricka Kohnstamm and Rosanne Zaidenweber
Search Committee Co-chairs

Rabbinic Search Committee Introduction

June 2018

We have been extremely fortunate, as the Beth Jacob community, to have been guided by Rabbi Morris Allen, our wise and visionary senior rabbi, for over 30 years. Rabbi Allen and Phyllis Gorin have built a strong foundation that has provided us with a place to learn, a place to grow spiritually, a place to live our social justice beliefs, a place to educate our children, and a place to connect with beloved community.

And, after 32 years, they deserve to take a breath and to explore what else life has to offer. We congratulate them on the birth of their first grandchild, as well as their daughter Adina’s engagement. And we wish Rabbi Allen well as he starts his sabbatical and sets out on the first steps of his new journey.

This means, of course, that it is time for our senior rabbinic search to begin. We’re excited to report that the Search Committee had its first working meeting Wednesday evening, May 30. We couldn’t ask for a stronger, more energized committee; all 14 members bring great skill and dedication to the table and are committed to representing the entire shul community throughout the search process.

We’ll be meeting once a month as a full committee, and many times as smaller working groups, focused on specific tasks, which will then be brought back to the full committee.

Our committee objective is to hire a great fit senior rabbi for our shul by July 1, 2019. There is a lot of work that precedes that, of course, and we’ve included a timeline overview so that you can see what we’ll be doing and by when.

We will keep you updated as we go, and feel free to reach out with questions and concerns.

Co-Chairs Rosanne Zaidenweber and Ricka Kohnstamm

Establishment of Rabbinic Search Committee

May 2018

We would like to announce the Search Committee, which was approved by the Board. The chairs of the Search Committee will be Ricka Kohnstamm and Rosanne Zaidenweber. Rosanne is a past president who is intimately familiar with the workings of the shul, and Ricka was the chair of the T’fillah Team, and is experienced in facilitating committees making difficult decisions, with an emphasis on kavod and respect. The Search Committee members are: Stuart Bear, Laura Broder, Arielle Ehrlich, Laurie Fink, Benj Kamm, Barbie Levine, Ryan Lohr, Mickey Minsberg, Marvin Pertzik, Tamar Resnick, Randi Roth, & Nina Samuels. We believe that this entire committee is comprised of people who can speak to our values of who we are and where we want to go in a way that is compelling and full of kavod, are representative of our past and our future, and that each member brings specific skills and wisdom.

Thank you.
Rachel Hertel & Laura Honan, Co-Presidents