Rabbinical Search updates

We’re in the process of a Rabbinical Search. You can view our updates as they come through below. 


january 14, 2021 | View pdf

In the weeks since the last update a lot has happened with the ongoing work of the Rabbinic Search Committee. This tireless group completed the Pulpit Rabbinic Search Questionnaire. The mammoth document (32 pages!), which was thoughtfully written to reflect who we are as a congregation and what needs we have when it comes to selecting our next rabbi, was successfully submitted to the Rabbinic Assembly, and our job posting went live as the last few days of 2020 slipped away.

Happily, we’ve received CVs from four qualified candidates so far, and the committee is now deep into planning the interview process. In addition to speaking with these candidates, we will also be participating in Interview Week, which gives kehillot looking to hire a new rabbi the opportunity to interview the students graduating from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary. While our inclination is to hire a rabbi with prior pulpit experience, there may be some very viable candidates to be considered among the graduating seniors.

On a nice note, we’ve gotten positive feedback from both RA staff and the candidates that the questionnaire we submitted is really a master work. Comments include, “It looks great, and I can tell you did a very thorough job of filling it out,” and “Your rabbinic hiring questionnaire…describes a community passionately committed to prayer and learning, and a community that is confident in its ability to sing its own melody.” The many weeks of careful data dissemination, writing and editing to present the final questionnaire are paying off.

We will continue to update you about the search progress in regular messages, which will also be posted on our website. If you have specific questions about the committee’s work, please contact chair Anne LeVant: anne@prahls.com or Marje Jacobson: marjej2@gmail.com


december 17, 2020

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the Congregation Shaarie Torah survey following this year’s High Holidays. We had a great response, with nearly 150 individuals sharing their hopes, concerns, and feedback on the future of the synagogue. This information has proven invaluable to the Search Committee as they’ve been preparing the candidate materials.

Chaired by Anne LeVant Prahl, the committee is comprised of members who represent the wide range of ages, stages and views of our congregation: Aaron Bloom, Eric Brown, Eva Celnik, Hannah Cohen-Cline, Annette Demsey, Allison Fowler, Marje Jacobson, Mylen Shenker, Michael Stokamer, Trudi Stone and Sara Sturtz, as well as Board President Daniel Petcher and Executive Director Jemi Kostiner Mansfield. The group has been meeting weekly to compile the massive (30+ page!) Pulpit Rabbinic Search Questionnaire required by USCJ and Rabbinical Assembly. This document is our opportunity to tell potential candidates who we are and what we are seeking in our next Rabbi. Our chance to put our best foot forward. That’s where the results of the recent survey come into play.

In going through the data, a few themes consistently emerged. First, the majority of respondents were satisfied with how CST is running. While this is always a great place to start, we paid attention to the fact that only one third of respondents were “very satisfied” with how things are going. We see this is a mandate to continue to improve the religious services and Judaic programming we offer. While there is a lot that continues to attract and keep people in our community (people highlighted our connection to the Conservative Movement and our Rabbi), we know there are areas where we can further innovate and deepen our impact. Given that two-thirds of survey respondents recommended we “allow for change while maintaining some tradition,” we feel that there is ample interest in finding those opportunities and further developing what we offer our kehillah (community).

Another theme that came across clearly in the survey data is how important and unique our community is. The number one response to “Why do you remain affiliated with CST?” was because people feel a sense of community. And when people shared the top priorities for the future of the synagogue, “community” was the #3 choice, coming in just behind creating a place to worship and finding a new Rabbi. In short, the survey data supports what we all know to be true: CST distinguishes itself because of its warm, hamish nature. This is something people across the board recognized as our greatest asset and something we will continue to prioritize.

As we look to take our next steps as a congregation and find the right Rabbi for us, we know that we have a great deal to offer him or her. We have an engaged congregation with a deep passion for Conservative Judaism, eager to deepen and expand our community and further enrich our spiritual lives. We look forward to sharing these truths with rabbinical candidates in the coming year. If you are interested in seeing the full results of the survey, which have been skillfully charted by Board Secretary Raphi Rosenblatt, please contact Jemi: executivedirector@shaarietorah.org.

The next steps for the Search Committee will be to submit the finalized questionnaire to the Rabbinical Assembly, officially putting us into the active search phase. This will happen before the end of December. In January the focus of the committee’s work will shift to interview preparation and planning for eventual virtual visits by the candidates. We will continue to update you about the search progress in regular messages, which will also be posted on our website. If you have specific questions about the committee’s work, please contact chair Anne LeVant: anne@prahls.com or Marje Jacobson: marjej2@gmail.com.

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