August 2018 Update:
As we commence our search for a new Senior Rabbi for our Temple, we first want to thank you for the confidence you have placed in our committee. In this first report, we introduce our committee, remind you of the process we follow, share our Temple’s expectations for our new Senior Rabbi, and outline how you can support a successful Temple search.
OUR COMMITTEE – Our Search Committee this year is composed of 17 Temple members representing a diversity of age and experience. Many members served on last year’s search committee and a few with experience in the search for Rabbi Miller. All are dedicated to this task. They are:
Jack Aland (Co-Chair) [email protected]
Joel Piassick (Co-Chair) [email protected]
Rodney Barstein [email protected]
Jeffrey Bayer [email protected]
Robin Berger [email protected]
Joe Bluestein [email protected]
Helene Elkus [email protected]
Jackie Feldman [email protected]
Glenn Fleisig [email protected]
Fran Godchaux [email protected]
Ronnie Hess [email protected]
Brian Kulbersh [email protected]
Robert Levin [email protected]
Ashley Metsky [email protected]
Virginia Oleinick [email protected]
Lynn Rathmell [email protected]
Amanda Sokol [email protected]
This is your Temple and we are your agents. You should feel free to contact any committee member to discuss your visions and concerns related to the Search.
PRELIMINARY WORK – Our initial step as a committee was to analyze last year’s search and determine areas for improvement. Our committee unanimously felt that we should continue to seek a “five star” Rabbi. That led to a discussion of the need to determine a fair compensation range and insure that the Temple could make a financial commitment to support the search. After analyzing projected revenue, the Grafman Endowment Fund agreed to provide supplemental financial support, if needed, to ensure that the Temple could make a competitive offer to a top candidate. Our committee also concluded to focus more of a candidate’s first visit on Temple activities. We have so far received 6 resumes from prospective candidates for our Senior Rabbi position.
THE PROCESS – Our Temple, as a member of the Union of Reform Judaism, follows its guidelines in the process of engaging clergy. That process starts with our Temple filing an Application which is available for review by clergy considering seeking a position. Interested clergy submit a confidential resume to our Committee which reviews each resume and determines whether to further consider the applicant. Since these clergy are associated with other congregations who may not be aware that their clergy is considering a move, THE PROCESS IS STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. As our committee narrows our choices, Cantor Roskin, the Temple Board, Endowment leadership and members of our congregation representing our diverse activities will have an opportunity to meet selected candidates, STILL MAINTAINING STRICT CONFIDENTIALITY. Ultimately, our Committee will make a recommendation to the Temple Board to extend an offer and, if the Board agrees and negotiations with the candidate are successful, that recommendation will be brought to the Temple membership for a vote at a specially called meeting. Every effort will be made, consistent with URJ policies, for the recommended candidate to meet as many congregation members as possible prior to such meeting.
OUR APPLICATION – Our Application was filed on July 26, 2018. It describes in general terms our Temple and its visions, history, operations and finances, as well as the Birmingham community. The core of the Application is its description of the role of our new Senior Rabbi:
RABBI FOR ALL. Engage our Temple congregation in a variety of worship services, Jewish life, and learning. Creat a warm welcoming culture for all members of our Temple community. Recognize the need to offer congregants multiple opportunities to pursue their Jewish identity, thus creating a connected, caring, inclusive, and diverse Temple community.
LEADER. An inspirational leader who helps us fulfill our mission as a welcoming Reform Jewish congregation. Willingness to embrace traditional and non-traditional prayer, study, fellowship, and innovation for our congregational family and the community at-large. The incoming Senior Rabbi will also be a leader in
Temple Emanu-el’s move into the future as a 21st Century congregation that recognizes the challenges and opportunities of maintaining a viable Birmingham Jewish community.
CONNECT. Create opportunities for our Temple families to connect with each other so that all segments of the congregation feel deeply engaged in our Temple community making Reform Judaism relevant. To ensure the stability and sustainablity of Temple
Emanu-el, we must especiallyl be mindful to connect with the “Next Generation”.
EMBRACE DIVERSITY. Embrace our congregants’ visions and aspirations for the future. Provide a wide range of worship experiences, educational opportunities, life-cycle events, and innovative programs that reflect the diverse spiritual and cultural needs and desires of our congregants.
SPEAK OUR VOICE. As the Rabbi for the largest and leading Jewish congregation in the State of Alabama, our Senior Rabbi has the opportunity to continue Temple Emanu-El’s role of presenting the Jewish perspective on issues concerning Judaism, Israel, the interfaith community, and social justice. During his tenure as our Rabbi (1941-1976), Rabbi Grafman became increasingly active as a voice for the Jewish community. More recently, Rabbi Miller (1991-2017) was a strong supporter of equal rights and social justice for all. There will be countless opportunities in the future for our Senior Rabbi to speak our voice.
HOW YOU CAN HELP – Just as we research candidates, the candidates will be researching our Temple. We will be bringing in one or more candidates for personal visits. This will be the time to show them what a welcoming Temple community we are, and that we are eager for new spiritual leadership. Our active participation in Shabbat services during our transition year will demonstrate to the candidates how committed we are to preserving Jewish life in Birmingham.
FUTURE REPORTS – As noted above, much of our Committee’s activities are confidential. Our plan is to update the Congregation as we progress by including reports in the Temple Bulletins.
July 2018 Update:
Our new and improved application has been submitted to CCAR Placement.
June 2018 Update:
Our new search committee chairmen are Joel Piassick and Dr. Jack Aland. Committee members are Ronne Hess, Amanda Sokol, Ashley Metsky, Fran Godchaux, Glenn Fleisig, Helene Elkus, Jackie Feldman, Jeffrey Bayer, Joe Bluestein, Lynn Rathmell, Robert Levin, Robin Berger, Rodney Barstein, and Virginia Oleinick.
The plan is to submit our updated application to CCAR Placement by late June.
March 2018 Update:
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the recent Town Hall meetings in February.
Our discussions were lively and obviously many of us care deeply about Temple Emanu-El. For those who were unable to attend, a video of the presentation below as well as a Question and Answer summary (click “Q & A” at right) are available.
You may be aware that a rabbinic candidate visited Birmingham to meet with the search committee members, clergy, staff and lay leadership last month. Based on this visit, it was the recommendation of the Senior Rabbi Search Committee and the Temple Board that we develop a memorandum of terms of employment which is the process outlined by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). However, we were not able to reach an agreement on proposed compensation with this candidate.
Your Temple Board remains fully committed to finding the right Senior Rabbi plus a Jewish educational professional while operating within our financial means. Our Budget and Finance Committee and our Financial Resources Development Council – both of which are comprised of knowledgeable financial experts – provided data and forecasts to keep our congregation from overextending ourselves. Rest assured, we will find the right Senior Rabbi at the right time for our congregation.
June 30th will mark the last day of both Rabbi Doug Kohn’s and Rabbi Laila Haas’ service to our temple. Cantor Jessica Roskin will continue serving our congregants on our shared journey. Our plans to move forward include:
· Hiring a full-time Director of Engagement and Congregational Learning (DECL) to lead our education initiatives including our Religious and Hebrew Schools, Teens Program, and supervise the Director of the Discovery School along with creating engagement opportunities for all Temple members.
· Hiring a Student Rabbi from Hebrew Union College (possibly two) to visit several weekends each month to assist with services and other activities.
· Bringing in a Rabbi to assist with High Holy Day Services.
· Maximizing opportunities for Congregant volunteers to assist with services, pastoral visits and special Shabbat programming.
As Cantor Roskin shared in the Town Hall meetings, this is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to partner with her in creating a culture of engagement and involvement that will show future rabbinical candidates that Temple Emanu-El is truly a special place.
We will continue to provide regular updates..
Ben Weil, Temple Presiden
February 2018 Update:
As we continue on our journey to identify our next senior rabbi, your Temple leadership believes it is important to provide substantive updates on the status of several ongoing initiatives relative to the Senior Rabbi Search and other opportunities that we have before us. In that vein, we hosted two Town Hall Meetings in February to share the status of our efforts. See the 17-minute presentation (vimeo) below:
January 2018 Update:
The Senior Rabbi Search Committee wanted to provide the following update on our work to identify our next permanent rabbi for Temple Emanu-El.
- After reviewing the first round of applications, the Search Committee brought in three candidates for the Senior Rabbi position. All three candidates had previously interviewed with other synagogues prior to coming to Birmingham. Each candidate ultimately accepted another position before we were able to select the best candidate for Temple Emanu-El.
- The Search Committee is ongoing and will continue working diligently until we find the right candidate for our congregation. At this time, we have reviewed several additional candidates and plan to invite at least one of these candidates to Birmingham in the near term.
- While the search continues, the Board of Directors is also working on a contingency plan that will allow us to move forward while we continue our search.
As we continue this process, we will provide regular updates in the Temple’s eNews.
Town Hall Meetings Planned: Additionally, Temple leadership will be hosting several Town Hall Meetings in the near future to provide additional updates.
November 2017 Update:
To better understand the needs of our congregation, we asked all adult members to complete a survey. The results of this survey can be found here.
May 2017 Update:
Helene Elkus and Glenn Fleisig accepted the invitation by Temple President Ben Weil to co-chair a Senior Rabbi Search Committee. The co-chairs then spoke with the following about a senior rabbi search and setting up a committee:
- President Ben Weil
- Executive Director Robin Gotlieb
- Interim Senior Rabbi Doug Kohn
- Rabbi Cindy Enger from Central Conference of American Rabbis (ccarnet.org)
- Rabbi Jan Offel from the Union for Reform Judaism (urj.org)
The co-chairs then created a senior rabbi search committee comprised of dedicated, insightful temple members representing the diverse constituency of our congregation. Joining Helene and Glenn on the search committee are Jack Aland, Rodney Barstein, Jeffrey Bayer, Robin Berger, Callie Blitz, Jackie Feldman, Sam Friedman, Fran Godchaux, Robert Levin, Ashley Metsky, Virginia Oleinick, Lynn Rathmell, and Amanda Sokol.