Notes from the December 5, 2016, Town Hall Meeting

Dear Kolot Community,
Seventy Kolot members gathered on Monday night, December 5, for a Town Hall to discuss Kolot Chayeinu’s upcoming rabbinic transition. It was a wonderful evening that was so “Kolot” in many ways. There was laughter, a little crying, lively discussion, and many good questions about how best to carry our community forward. I felt honored to be the chair of this effort. What follows in this email is a summary of much of the information that was shared at the Town Hall, as well as opportunities for you to participate in the transition. Please read through to the end for time-sensitive information, including how to nominate someone to the Search Committee by December 21.
As I shared at that meeting, over the past year the Transition Team has learned from synagogues, rabbis, and synagogue organization experts about rabbinic transitions and, based on what we have learned, developed a plan for Kolot’s transition. Attached to this email are two documents, which were shared at the meeting, that provide more details about that plan. Some key elements that I want to draw your attention to are:
  • In June of 2018, there will be a gala honoring Rabbi Lippmann’s retirement and celebrating Kolot’s 25th anniversary.
  • We will be hiring an interim rabbi to serve our congregation for the period of July 2018-June 2019. Interim rabbis bring particular expertise in helping congregations navigate rabbinic transitions and are especially recommended for congregations that, like ours, are embarking on their first rabbinic search following the retirement of a founding rabbi. Over the coming year we’ll be learning more as a community about interim rabbis, so stay tuned!
  • We will be conducting a full search process to hire a new rabbi to begin working at Kolot in the summer of 2019.
  • The search for both the interim and permanent rabbis will be carried out by a Search Committee of no more than nine members representing the diversity of Kolot’s community, with several opportunities for the entire congregation to offer input. The final step of the search process will be a vote on the next permanent rabbi at a full Congregational Meeting in 2019.

Rabbi Lippmann shared with us some of her thinking about retirement and her plans, including especially this note:
Why am I retiring? Because it is good for me and good for Kolot.  I am 65 years old, and while I still have a lot of energy for this very time consuming work, I am frankly tired, and ready for some travel, some new projects (not yet determined), and some more time with Kathryn and other family. And for Kolot, a new rabbi will bring needed vision, new energy, and new ways of doing things. I will get out of that person’s way, so will really be gone after June 30, 2018.
Some of you ask, How will we ever replace you? I know that you are all good, smart people who own the mission and values and spirit of Kolot, and that you will choose someone who can do so too. When was the last time you read the Mission and Values? Here it isAND it will be different. One way is that a next rabbi will need a higher salary and benefits. So after you look at the Mission and Values, switch over to the Donate button and give a donation higher than you have given before, if you can.  I am not kidding.  
We are so lucky that we have other “pillars” that hold up Kolot: It is so good that both Cantor Segal and Franny Silverman, Kolot’s Director of Learning and Action, will be here holding up our prayer, our learning, our ways of taking action, and joining the board and all of you who are the continuity and foundation of Kolot.
As our mission statement says, all hands are needed to build our community. This is all the more true during this period of transition. Right now, we are looking for members of the congregation to participate in three ways.
1. The Nominating Committee is currently seeking nominations from the congregation for candidates to serve on the Search Committee. To nominate someone to the search committee (it can be yourself!), contact Roger Westerman at Please include one or two lines of pertinent information, such as: how you know the person, how the person is connected with Kolot, and with the Jewish world, and specifically why you think your nominee would be a good choice for this critical committee. All candidates must be able to commit to the full two-year search. Deadline for nominations is December 21.
2. In 2017 the Transition Team will be convening a series of house gatherings to solicit input from the congregation about what qualities we are seeking in our next rabbi. To volunteer to host a house gathering, contact me at
3. Work is starting now on the gala honoring Rabbi Lippmann and celebrating Kolot’s 25th anniversary. To join the team that is planning the Gala, contact Samantha Anderson at
We ended the evening by gathering in groups to discuss the following prompt: The search committee, to be functional, needs to be small – no more than nine people. Given that we can’t all be at the table, what types of voices do we want represented on the search committee? If you’d like to contribute your thoughts to that discussion, you may send them to the Nominating Committee by emailing Roger Westerman at
There were many questions from the congregation – too many, actually, to answer in one night! We wrote down those questions, and will be using them to shape future events and communications regarding the transition. If you have additional questions, I invite you to send them to me at
It is best to send questions related to the specific areas above directly to the people named.  However, know our board president, Andrea Arzt is also always available to hear questions, concerns or feedback. You can reach her at
As I told those present at the close of Monday night’s Town Hall, I am so grateful to be a member of Kolot Chayeinu alongside all of you. Our congregation is a dynamic and thriving community that does important work in Brooklyn and the larger world. I am excited about the possibilities ahead of us as we honor Rabbi Lippmann for her leadership and seek a new rabbi to partner with us in continuing our work.
Carolyn Klaasen
Board member and Chair, Transition Team

© 2017 Kolot Chayeinu | Voices of Our Lives