What do these 

Lisa Schifman (Board member and chair of our Rabbinic Search Advisory Task Force) and I have just interviewed a number of soon-to-be-ordained rabbis, graduating from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), as we seek our next rabbi.

With congregations from throughout North America and graduating rabbis from the three HUC-JIR campuses all gathered in Cincinnati, it is an intensive time for both the rabbis and congregations. Rabbis are interviewing with 10-12 congregations over a 3-day period. Congregations are trying to differentiate themselves, so rabbis will remember them. It’s somewhat akin to speed dating. Both want to make great first impressions, as they determine whether they want to invite (or be invited) to that “second date.”

We met fabulous individuals. Each one could easily become our next rabbi, who will join our professional leadership, beginning July 1, 2015. Later this week, we will invite several of them to visit with us during the month of February, for us and them to discover whether we are the right match.

During their two-day visits, our task force will conduct a formal interview. In addition, our candidates will have a variety of opportunities to meet congregants, as well as get to know our amazing community. We will collate reactions from congregants and consult with our task force to determine the best candidate for our congregation. We anticipate that our process will conclude at the beginning of March, at which time we will share with you who our next rabbi will be.

Oh, the gifts?

We wanted our own differentiation tool…so, in great B’nai Jehudah tradition, we gave gifts…swag with meaning! We gave them a bag filled with our Shared Vision food wrap, a Chicken-Soup Cookoff oven mitt, a B’nai Jehudah-branded notepad, an egg shaker from Shabbat Chadash, some Kansas City chili seasoning, and chocolate – because it’s chocolate.

And then we asked the candidates to tell us what they saw. And here is a sampling of what we heard as they described the congregation, based on their experience in the interviews, reading our provided information, looking at our website, watching services and sermons online, and asking their contacts about us…
The food wrapIt’s transparent, yet strong. The congregation tries to be transparent in all it does. And works to keep the community together and fresh, even as it is open to new opportunities. 


The notepad: It’s a blank slate. We are free to experiment and try whatever will lend meaning to our community.
The oven mitt: B’nai Jehudah is a safe place. Even as we invite people to go where they may not be initially comfortable (it can be hot!), we have your back as you travel on your Jewish journey.
The egg shaker: Music is essential to B’nai Jehudah. We are finding our unique rhythm.
The chili: Let’s spice it up. But, also, chili is warm and sustaining. Just like the congregation.
And finally, the chocolate: It’s sweet, just as our experiences are at B’nai Jehudah.

Lisa and I were bowled over! All of the candidates got it. They understood our core purpose, our core values, and were agog over our BHAG, our Big Holy Awesome Goal. As we pursue our search, Lisa and I felt thrilled and privileged to participate in this stage of our search. We have met the future leadership of Reform Judaism…and we know that we will be well served by this next generation of rabbis. 

One of these rabbis will be our “beshert,” our match. And s/he will join us for the coming years in nurturing meaning, connection, and continuity for us, our children, and our community.

Stayed tuned, as we discover this new path of our congregation’s journey.