Greetings from the Rabbinic Search Committee! We are excited and honored to be working together on behalf of the congregation on this very important transition. We are writing to share our first update about what we’ve been up to.
As you know, after an open nominations process that began at the end of 2016, the Nominating Committee informed us in March that we had been selected for the Rabbinic Search Committee. We first convened at the end of that month and held a kick-off meeting with Transition Team Chair Carolyn Klaasen and Kolot Board President Andrea Arzt. Since then we’ve met three additional times and have been hard at work on the first stage of our task: hiring an Interim Rabbi. With the important deadline of beginning that search process being this summer 2017, here’s what we’ve done to-date:
Co-Chairs – Cindy Greenberg and Russell Langsam are co-chairing our efforts and are regularly coordinating with the Board, Transition Team, and Kolot staff and clergy as needed.
Orientation and Organization – We’re now well-versed in the Transition Timeline, the job description for our team, important background materials from the Board and Transition Team, including notes from the Leadership Retreat. We’ve set up regular meetings and created several working groups within our committee to manage the tasks at hand.
Research on the Role of Interim Rabbis – To get more information about the unique role that Interim Rabbis play in congregations and inform our work in the hiring process, we’ve done some background reading, reviewed numerous Interim Rabbi job postings and frameworks, and met with leaders from a number of congregations and rabbinic seminaries. These have already included: Josh Fixler, a newly ordained Reform rabbi who has extensively studied the field of Interim Rabbis; Rabbi Don Rossoff (Congregation Beth Am, Framingham, MA) and Rabbi Deborah Hirsch (Village Temple, NYC), who are both currently actively serving as and are experienced at being Interim Rabbis; Rabbi Alan Henkin, the rabbinic placement coordinator at the Union of Reform Judaism; Julie Salamon, the Co-President of Village Temple; Rabbi Niles Goldstein, founding and now emeritus rabbi of the New Shul; Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek; and learned about the conversations the Transition Team had with Rabbi Rachel Timoner, the new rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim and Jerilyn Heinold, a lay leader at Temple Shir Tikva (Wayland, MA). We hope to have a few more conversations in May, including with leaders at Kol Tzedek (Philadelphia, PA).
Interim Rabbi Job Posting – Because Kolot is an independent congregation, we have to manage this work on our own and we’ve been in touch in with the Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal movements, the non-denominational seminaries and the Interim Ministry Network about how they can help us publicize the rabbinic opportunities at Kolot. We’ve identified almost a dozen posting avenues and will also be sharing the job announcement with Kolot and its email list.
Budget – We’ve provided feedback to the Board on the budget needed for the Search processes and what we’ve learned about salary ranges, compensation packages and terms of employment for Interim Rabbis. The board recently approved a budget of $4K to support the Interim Rabbi search process, which may include covering travel for leading candidates.
Interim Rabbi Job Description – Built from the Interim Rabbi job postings we’ve reviewed, Rabbi Lippmann’s contract and insights from our research, we’ve drafted a job description. Ensuring that we find an Interim Rabbi aligned with Kolot’s mission and values is of course a priority. The job description is still being revised and will go to the Kolot Board on May 21 for final review, adjustment and approval. We will begin advertising the position in June.
Candidate vetting and Interview Process – We’ve begun discussing the process and priorities we will use for candidate vetting, interviews and evaluation. A draft of this process will be provided to the Board by May 21 and we hope to finalize this plan by June 15. Candidates will be screened and vetted on a rolling basis, meaning that we will not hold off until the “deadline” date for applications to begin assessing our pool.
May 8th Town Hall on the Interim Rabbi – With the Transition Team, we organized a Town Hall on the role of the Interim Rabbi. About 50 Kolotniks participated in in-depth discussion.
Throughout, this work has been engaging, provocative and joyous. It has been full of good questions and things to puzzle over; sadness about Rabbi Lippmann’s retirement, and awe at all she has built and shared at Kolot; passion about Kolot and our beloved community, Kolot’s values, people and impact on all our lives; room for disagreement and changing our minds as we wrestle; anticipation about what the future will bring. There has been food and laughter, deepening of relationships, commiserating about the state of the world, and delight as the trees come back into bloom.
This communiqué marks the first of what we know will be much communication with the congregation. Stay tuned for further updates from our Rabbinic Search Committee and the Transition Team alike, including ways we will be gathering input and keeping the congregation involved throughout!
Cindy Greenberg, Co-Chair
Russell Langsam, Co-Chair