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Dear Chaverim,

 

I am honored and humbled by the position of trust in being named as chair of our Transition and Rabbinic Search Committee and excited to be working with a terrific committee. We promise to lead a highly transparent process, with opportunities for every member to participate and provide input. As we embark on this journey together, kehillah kedosha reminds us that the task before us may be the ultimate religious purpose with the greatest reward, to secure a spiritual leader to guide us on the path to maintaining our congregation as a sacred community.

 

The purpose of my message today is to explain the search process, what has already begun, what you should expect in the near future, and how every member of our shul can and should get involved.

 

As a conservative congregation and a member of USCJ, we are bound by specific rules in the search process. The Joint Placement Commission (JPC) is the only advisory group and decision-making body with regard to pulpit rabbinic placement in the Conservative Movement. It is a partnership of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, USCJ and the Rabbinical Assembly.

In accordance with the guidelines, our work over the next several months will be focused on preparing to post our Rabbinical job opening with the RA Career Center on the Rabbinical Assembly's E-Placement online system.

 

A congregation's process of selecting a rabbi has four distinct periods: 1) self-reflection and preparation; 2) the search process; 3) transition; and 4) first year. Today, I would like to focus on self-reflection.

 

Self-Reflection and Preparation

 

Our first crucial step is a robust outreach to the congregation to fully understand who we are as a community, what we want to be and what we want in a Rabbi. We want to take this very important opportunity for self-reflection to examine our past, present and future. Very shortly, you'll be asked to fill out an online survey, which the committee is finalizing, and attend focus groups on these questions. Please make it a priority to participate! We want to hear every voice. We'll use your responses to guide every step of the search, including the completion of a "Congregational Questionnaire" which is included in the posting of the position and reviewed by any potential applicant to learn about our community and determine if he or she thinks they are good fit for our community.

 

The Rabbinic Search committee will be disciplined, honest, and intentional in seeking the most accurate picture of the synagogue, but we cannot paint this picture alone. To reach a consensus from across the entire spectrum of our congregation, we absolutely need your help. Your participation is essential.

 

Our Self-Reflection process has begun. The search committee has been in frequent communication and has already met twice. The Rabbinical Search Survey will be going out to every member of our congregation very shortly. Each person over the age of 13 in every household should complete the survey independently. The committee also met with Jennifer Stofman, The Director of Synagogue Consulting for USJC. In addition to answering a lot of our questions about the search process itself, Jennifer also performed and taught a focus group exercise with the group.

 

The series of focus groups with various constituents of our congregation are scheduled to begin in August. Again, it is so very important that the search committee hear your voice. Please contact the office or me if you are interested in participating, organizing or hosting a group.

 

The Self-Reflection Process will be moving quickly. It is our goal to finish the surveys, focus groups, complete the congregational questionnaire, and post the position no later than October 1st. The interview process should start shortly afterwards.

 

The search committee is dedicated to an open and transparent process from start to a successful finish. We are committed to a vigorous communications process, updating you frequently on the progress of the search and inviting your feedback.   In addition to future letters, to help keep everyone informed there will be a new Rabbinic Search Page added to the BT BJ website. The information on the website will include additional information about the search process, a timeline, updates, as well bios of all the committee members.

 

The goal of the committee is to not just find the "best" Rabbi, but to find the "best" Rabbi for our Kehillah. Don't sit on your hands in the stands and just watch the game. BT BJ is where you belong. You can and should get involved and join us on this sacred journey. If you have any questions or want to get involved, do not hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience.

 

B'Shalom

Richard Gersh

Rabbinic Search Chair

Fri, September 17 2021 11 Tishrei 5782