Dear CEHV Community,
Thank you for your patience as the Rabbinic Search Committee both organized the findings from our Fall/Winter listening events and survey, exchanged findings with the Strategic Planning Committee, and spent significant time researching rabbinic search processes and learning from Rabbi Alan Berlin and Rabbi Leora Kaye of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the organization that supports Reform rabbis and congregations in their rabbinic search processes. The results from our listening events and survey will guide us as we draft the job description for our rabbinical search. For an update on where we are in the process, please see the timeline at the bottom of this email. But for now, enjoy this summary of our findings below this word cloud created from over 50 written responses to the question, “What is your vision of the next rabbi of CEHV?”
Please note: our community comprises many perspectives and types of individuals which is what makes us special and unique. This brief is meant to share the perspectives that made up the MAJORITY of the feedback from the listening events and surveys, NOT to share all findings as there are many.
In both the Listening Events and the survey, participants/respondents were asked to pick their top 5 roles from this list. The results indicated that 61% of total survey respondents and event participants want to prioritize a rabbi who will embody these five roles listed here in order of popularity:
- A Pastoral Leader: Pastoral care is significant for our members, and we’re seeking a rabbi who can serve as a trusted guide and confidant during times of joy and hardship. This rabbi sees their role as counselor, healer and spiritual caretaker to be core duties.
- A Spiritual Leader of Worship: The findings make it clear that our community values a rabbi connected to their own spirituality and the spiritual needs of CEHV. They should have deep knowledge about all areas of Judaism and feel passionate about sharing that knowledge with the congregation. And finally, we hope to find someone who provides strong spiritual leadership and guidance.
- A Carrier of Tradition: Tradition is also an essential part of our community and our identity as Jews. We want a rabbi who is rooted in our traditions and understands their significance in our lives. However, we also recognize that contemporary observance and practice may require new interpretations. We are looking for someone who can help us navigate the challenges of modern life while staying true to our roots.
- A Teacher: We seek a rabbi who can inspire us with their knowledge and passion for Jewish tradition. Top priorities in this category include placing importance on adult education. The rabbi should be deeply knowledgeable about religious texts and commentary. Ideally the rabbi would have a strong role in the religious school, although half of those surveyed see this as an adjunct to other duties.
- A Bridge Builder: Finally, we want an inspiring leader who is a community builder, encouraging engagement and connection among members. The ideal candidate will attract new members and inspire us to build meaningful relationships with each other.
Other standout findings from our events and survey are that our future Rabbi should have the following roles and qualities:
A Social Activist
- Have a strong lean toward social action and tikkun olam
- Seek partnerships with other faith communities
- Speak on social justice from the bima and in community
- Embrace and teach where Judaism and positive change meet
A Community Representative:
- Be active in Jewish as well as secular communities
- Understand how to navigate the politics of community life
- Play a role in promoting CEHV in Kingston and the Hudson Valley region
An Inclusive Leader:
- Have a vision for engaging with households inclusive of but not limited to interfaith, LGBTQIA+, disabled and neurodivergent communities, as well as Jews of Color, Sephardic Jews and Mizrahi Jews.
The Congregation expressed even further details on this very important category:
- The majority of respondents are interested in a leader who can connect with congregants across a diverse spectrum of needs, desires, identities and life circumstances.
- The community wants access to prayer and rituals for all people regardless of Hebrew language ability. This includes services with or without Hebrew, with or without music, traditional and non-traditional.
- The new rabbi should be a good listener, encourage people to grow and change and be able to navigate open discussion on these topics.
The listening events and survey showed that all of the above qualities are critical in creating a strong and vibrant congregation rooted in the reform tradition. As we move forward in our search, we’ll use these findings to guide us in writing a job description that expresses the character of our community, when interviewing candidates, and of course when making our final suggestion to the board and community.
So what’s next?
We’d also like to take this moment to briefly remind you of our timeline so the community knows that we are on track.
- May/June – Rabbinic Search Committee writes Rabbinic Job Description
- Summer 2023 – Refine our plans and process for the search and interview process, communicate with the Reform Movement/ the CCAR of our intention to work with them for our search. Note: the CCAR is the official organization that works with congregations and rabbis affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism to be matched with one another
- Fall 2023 – Post Job Description with the CCAR
- Late fall 2023 – early Spring 2024 – Rabbinic Candidate resume review and interview Process, including process with Finalists
- Spring 2024 – Rabbinic Search Committee communicates recommendations to the CEHV Board
- Late Spring 2024 – Offer to chosen candidate.
We hope this insight is helpful and gives you the comfort in knowing that the Rabbinic Search Committee is moving forward with clarity and timeliness.
Thank you for your continued support and we will share more updates soon.
Randi Zinn, Franny Silverman Newman and the CEHV Rabbinic Search Committee