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April 20, 2022

The Rabbi Search Committee is happy to announce that Rabbi Murray Ezring will be our interim rabbi starting August 1, 2022. Please be sure to give him and his wife, Barbara, a warm welcome as they join our community.

If you didn't get a chance to meet Rabbi Ezring when he visited Beth Israel in late February, you can read his biography and watch some of the discussions from his visit. We are very excited to have Rabbi Ezring lead our congregation, and, at the same time, help us continue our search for a permanent rabbi.

Interim rabbi search

February 24, 2022

In last month’s rabbi search update, we noted that this year there is an unprecedented shortage of rabbis seeking permanent positions. This remains the situation, and, although Beth Israel has received additional applications, none of these candidates have met our requirements.

Very often, synagogues who have had long-serving rabbis (such as Rabbi Goldstein who has been with Beth Israel for 26 years) hire an “interim” rabbi, rather than going right to hiring a new permanent rabbi. Interim rabbis are specially trained to help congregations positively transition from one senior rabbi to the next. They do not become the congregation’s permanent rabbi; they move on after a year, once a congregation has found a permanent rabbi.

With this in mind, the Rabbi Search Committee has been interviewing candidates for an interim rabbi position. We are happy to share that we have found an interim rabbi candidate, Rabbi Murray Ezring, who we think would be an excellent fit for Beth Israel to serve as a bridge to our next senior rabbi. We have invited Rabbi Ezring to visit with our congregational community so that he may get to know us and we may get to know him.

Rabbi Ezring will be arriving on Sunday, February 27 and will be with us through Tuesday, March 1. We are currently working on the schedule for his visit. Please look for an email tomorrow about opportunities to meet Rabbi Ezring, both in-person and on Zoom. Your opinion about Rabbi Ezring being our interim rabbi is important, so we hope that you will participate in the opportunities to meet him. 

To learn more about the interim rabbi role, click here for FAQs.

Please send any questions you have about the Rabbi Search to bethisraelrabbisearch@gmail.com

Expanding our search

January 28, 2022

The Rabbi Search Committee has been working diligently interviewing candidates and is committed to finding the right rabbi for our congregation. To date, six rabbis have applied to Beth Israel through the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly search process. Four of these candidates passed our pre-screening and proceeded to panel interviews. Of these four, two candidates' strengths were not aligned with the skills and attributes our congregation rated as most important. The other two candidates decided to pursue opportunities in their preferred geographic locations.

We are expecting to receive additional applicants for our senior rabbi position through the Rabbinical Assembly in the next several weeks.

As we have shared previously, for a variety of reasons connected to the pandemic, the market is very competitive this year, with fewer rabbis in search than congregations seeking new clergy. Because of this, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (the overarching “governing body” of Conservative synagogues) together with the Rabbinical Assembly have agreed that for the remainder of this year, all Conservative congregations may seek rabbis who are not currently members of the Rabbinical Assembly. To enlarge our pool of candidates, Beth Israel is taking advantage of this option and is broadening our search to include rabbis that are not currently members of the Rabbinical Assembly.

Rest assured that we remain committed to ensuring that the views and practices of whoever we consider as our next rabbi are consistent with Conservative Judaism and our community's values and priorities. Our screening and interview process remains the same for these candidates, ensuring they will fit the skills our members determined were most important. 

When we originally shared the timeline for the rabbi search, we had expected that the most promising candidates would be visiting Beth Israel in-person in December, January and February. Because of the pandemic and the competitiveness of the market, this timeline will now likely extend into March. We may also need to make allowance for virtual visits as well, depending on the timing. Please look for information about upcoming visits in emails, and be sure to meet the rabbi candidates (live or on Zoom) during their visits. Everyone’s input is important!

Please send any questions you have about the Rabbi Search to bethisraelrabbisearch@gmail.com

We're screening candidates.

January 4, 2022

Our Rabbi Search Committee continues to be hard at work. We have already received several applications for the senior rabbi position. After pre-screening phone calls by John Buergenthal and Randall Singer, appropriate candidates have been interviewed via Zoom by our multi-generational panel, asking specific questions resulting from the findings of our congregational focus groups and member survey. Todah rabah to Melissa Adler, David Braitman, John Buergenthal, Jason Delman, Beth Hecht, Randall Singer and the Steering Committee for conducting these virtual interviews. 

The most promising candidates will be invited to visit Beth Israel in-person for several days. (Because of the pandemic, we may need to make allowance for virtual visits as well depending on the timing.)   These visits are an opportunity for us to learn about the candidates and to show them how wonderful the Beth Israel community is. Please look for information about upcoming visits in emails to follow. Be sure to come meet the rabbi candidates (live or on Zoom) during their visits. Everyone's input is important!

At this point, the search is still in progress.  We anticipate more applications, allowing us to find the right match for our congregation!

For a variety of reasons connected to the pandemic, the rabbi market is very competitive right now. Beth Israel joins a large number of congregations nationwide who are searching for their next senior rabbi. For this reason, we are looking to make an offer quickly once we find the right candidate. 

Here’s how you can help. Beth Israel’s bylaws require that the congregation officially approve the hiring of the senior rabbi. To do this, we will need to hold a special congregational meeting for the purpose of voting to hire the rabbi once we find the candidate who is the right fit for our congregation. Please plan to attend this congregational meeting when the time comes. 

We all enjoy Beth Israel because we feel that our congregation has much to offer: a variety of programming, an excellent Learning Lab, and, most importantly, a strong sense of community. Candidates are seeing this as well. We are looking forward to finding our new senior rabbi and starting the next exciting chapter of the Beth Israel story.
 

We are Interviewing!

December 6, 2021

We have received some resumes and are conducting preliminary phone and video interviews with qualified candidates. Stay tuned for information about live weekend visits with the congregation in the new year.

Job Posting Submitted to Rabbinical Assembly

November 17, 2021

We are happy to report that we submitted our application (job posting) for our next rabbi to the Rabbinical Assembly at the end of October and it has been posted to their Career Center Job Board for viewing by rabbi candidates.  We want to thank Randi Buergenthal and Harry Baumohl for writing an excellent application that represents Beth Israel so well.

In the coming months the Search Committee will be screening resumes and conducting initial interviews. An interview panel has been established consisting of congregants from Learning Lab parents to long-time members. The members of the interview panel are John Buergenthal, Randall Singer, David Braitman, Beth Hecht, Jason Delman and Melissa Adler. The selected candidates will be brought in for congregational interview weekends, dates to be determined.

Rabbi Search Focus Groups Completed 

November 1, 2021

We are happy to report that our focus groups for our next Rabbi Search have concluded! The results have been helpful; thank you to the hundreds of members who participated.  The information gathered were used to write our profile of the congregation in our application to the Rabbinical Assembly, to prepare questions for interviewing rabbi candidates, and will serve as a resource during our evaluation of candidates. 

Between June 30 and August 23, 2021 the Rabbi Search committee conducted 14 focus groups both in person and on Zoom. We were able to gather information from 139 congregants.  These members represented a variety of ages and demographics within our congregation and included long-time members and some newer members.

Huge thanks to Betsy Berner and Beth Hecht for all their hard work in planning and conducting these sessions. We would also like to thank Jerry Benesch and Phil Rabin for their roles in “crunching the numbers” and Sue Rabin, Suzanne Kiewe, and Hedy Rosman for helping scribe and assist at the focus groups.

During the focus groups participants were presented with a list of 14 rabbinic skills outlined by United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ).  You can  view that document here. Each person was asked to rank from 1 to 14 which skills were most important to them personally in our next rabbi. 

The Top 6 Skills across all Focus Groups (viewed from a personal perspective) were:
1.    Pastor - This rabbi sees personal counseling, and providing emotional, social, and spiritual support to be core duties. 
2.    Leader of Worship – Tefilla (prayer) is the core of this rabbi’s work -- leading it, teaching it, focusing on it. Congregants sense an emphasis on spirituality.  
3.    Congregational Visionary - This rabbi helps keep the focus on big picture future items, always leading toward new purposes and goals. They are not averse to change. 
4.    Religious Motivator - This rabbi encourages, promotes, and reinforces the value and the rewards of religious observance showing how to derive meaning through Jewish practice e.g., Shabbat, holidays, and celebrations through divrei torah and personal relationships with congregants.
5.    Educator - This rabbi sees teaching as the main task. Divrei Torah are lessons; classes are presented often, in many places, and for all ages.
6.    Engagement Leader - This rabbi actively reaches out and personally engages with our synagogue community members inside and outside the walls of our synagogue as well as hosts social gatherings at home.

Once the top six skills were determined for each group, participants were asked to consider these six skills from the perspective of which ones they believed were most important for our congregation (in contrast to which were most important to them personally).  The top four selected overall were:
1.    Congregational Visionary 
2.    Pastor 
3.    Leader of Worship (tied for 3rd)) 
3.    Religious Motivator (tied for 3rd)

Additionally, Focus Group participants were asked to list "Anything Else", describing traits that were not addressed in the ranking exercise.  Most of the responses to this question fell into the "soft skills" category.  The characteristics that were most often cited by participants included:  warm, welcoming, compassionate, role model, sense of humor, relatable to all ages, supportive and inclusive. 
           
Thank you again to everyone who participated in the focus groups. These results will help guide us in selection of rabbi candidates to interview for the position of our next rabbi. We look forward to receiving applications and beginning to screen applicants late fall/early next year.   
 

Rabbi Search Updates

June 15, 2021
We are gearing up for FOCUS GROUPS to get your input about what is important to you in our new rabbi! Watch your email for info re signing up. Virtual and Live options will be available. 
In addition, MEMBER SURVEYS will be going out by email mid-to late July for you to share additional thoughts about what we should be looking for in our new rabbi.

Rabbi Search is Under Way!

May 16, 2021

Dear Fellow Congregants: 

After 25 years with our congregation, Rabbi Goldstein will officially retire on July 31, 2022 and continue to be a part of our congregation as Rabbi Emeritus. As we begin our search for our next rabbi, we hope that you will join us in this important endeavor. This is an opportunity to consider what traits are most important to you in a spiritual leader and clarify what makes our synagogue unique as we explore what is important to our congregation. 

We are honored to serve as co-chairs of the Rabbi Search Steering Committee. It is our goal to ensure involvement from our members and to create open communication. In the weeks and months ahead, you will receive email updates about the search process and will be able to access updates and FAQs on Beth Israel’s Rabbi Search webpage. Below, you will see listed the co-chairs of all the Rabbi Search Subcommittees. If you have questions, suggestions, or would like to join a subcommittee, please email BethIsraelRabbiSearch@gmail.com. We want to hear from you and hope you will participate in this avoda kedosha (holy work)! 

Our 15-month search process schedule is as follows:  
May - July 2021: You will be invited to participate in small online or in-person focus groups and to complete an extensive community survey about what is important to you in a new rabbi. 
July/August 2021: The committee will use the data gathered to complete a Rabbinical Assembly application for potential candidates to learn about us. 
October 2021: The Rabbinical Assembly application will be posted for viewing by rabbinical candidates. 
November 2021- January 2022: The committee will screen applicants and conduct initial interviews. 
December 2021- February 2022: Candidates will be invited to Beth Israel for a weekend visit. We encourage all members of our congregation to attend these services and events. You will receive formal and informal surveys for your feedback after the visit and asked for your vote on the final selected candidate at a congregational meeting. 
Summer 2022: Our new rabbi will begin! 

Thank you for your help in the coming months. This process will be one that builds and strengthens our community and we are filled with optimism and excitement about the journey we have begun. We look forward to working with you on this important endeavor.


Sincerely,  
 
David J. Braitman                                 Heidi B. Hoffman

Co-Chairs, Rabbi Search Steering Committee
David Braitman
Heidi B. Hoffman
 
Candidate Application Team
Harry Baumohl
Randi Buergenthal

Communications Team
Diane Gensler
Hedy Rosman
 
Engagement/Focus Group Planning Team
Beth Hecht
Betsy Berner
 
Interview Team
John Buergenthal
Randall Singer

 Logistics Team
Toni Greenberg
 
Membership Survey Team
Rick Frankle
Iris Ingber
 
Recorder
Saundra Madoff
 
Ex-Officio
Scott Gensler
Aliza Rothenberg

Sat, May 21 2022 20 Iyyar 5782