Rabbinic Transition | Congregation Beth Am

Rabbinic Transition

Rabbinic Transition

Your Voice Matters: We need our members to share their dreams for our community to ensure that the goal can be met. We sincerely welcome all of you to be part of the journey. Please share your thoughts with us...

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Senior Rabbi Search Committee Bios

Interested in learning more about the members of the team who will lead the search for our next senior rabbi? Read on to learn more about them!

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Announcement Regarding Rabbinic Transition Search Committee
(Posted March 25, 2019)

Dear Beth Am Community:

Thanks to all of you who have been providing input into the Senior Rabbi transition process. Under the outstanding leadership of Transition Committee Co-Chairs Alona Scott and Mike Kaplan and their dedicated team of congregants, we have held multiple input sessions and launched a congregation-wide survey. All of the feedback from these efforts is helping to refine our vision as a congregation for the next five to ten years and to define the attributes we seek in our next Senior Rabbi who will lead us into that horizon.

During the spring, the Search Committee will use the feedback and input from the congregation to create our application for listing through the Central Conference of American Rabbi’s describing the unique opportunity to lead Beth Am and the qualities we are looking for in our next Senior Rabbi. Once we submit our application later this summer, the recruiting process will be underway and we will start to receive materials from applicants for screening.

The search phase of the transition process is critically important, and we are fortunate to have a wealth of thoughtful and talented congregants willing to assist in this work. We are delighted to announce the following members of the Search Committee, representing a cross section of our congregation, who will have the sacred task of recommending a finalist to the Board of Directors to serve as our next Senior Rabbi:

  • Alison Barnstable
  • Andy Cheng – Board President
  • Amy Darling
  • Steve Feldstein
  • Amy Gerstein
  • Rachel Gibson – Co-Chair
  • Stephanie Hannaford
  • Bruce Ives – Co-Chair and Board Past President
  • Karmi Leiman
  • Leeron Morad
  • Shane Owara
  • Pam Shames
  • Dan Siegel
  • Jean Wolman

We will continue to rely on the active input and participation from congregants along our transition journey. We welcome ongoing feedback and encourage you to send your ideas and questions to transitions@betham.org. You can also follow the progress of our transition effort and learn more about opportunities for input.

Please join us in thanking the members of both the Transition Committee and Search Committee for their commitment of time and talent to this endeavor and in supporting them in their work.

With best regards,

Rachel Gibson                                            Bruce Ives
Co-Chair                                                     Co-Chair
Senior Rabbi Search Committee          Senior Rabbi Search Committee

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Survey to Provide Input on Rabbinic Transition
Provide Input in Fewer Than 10 Minutes

Fellow Congregants,

Beth Am’s Board of Directors sincerely wants to know what personal qualities and characteristics you hope to see in our next Senior Rabbi. We are offering you a variety of ways to communicate your opinions, including attending group meetings, sending an email to transitions@betham.org, making a comment online or personal conversations with members of the Transition Committee.

Probably the quickest and easiest way for you to voice your opinion is to complete this very short survey, which should take fewer than 10 minutes. In the survey, you have the choice to remain anonymous or identify yourself. Feel free to forward this email to adult children or Jewish friends to have them take the survey as well.

With your help, we will continue our tradition of bringing extraordinary Senior Rabbis to Beth Am.  

Click here to begin the online survey. (Or, download and print a pdf version of the survey and return to the Beth Am office.)

Thank you,

Bruce Ives
Immediate Past President, Congregation Beth Am

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Provide Input on Priorities for Our Next Senior Rabbi
Opportunities to Provide Input Between Friday, February 22 to Sunday, March 17

As Bruce Ives has reminded us, we have been truly blessed these past two decades with Rabbi Marder’s spiritual and intellectual leadership.  With her planned retirement in June 2020 approaching, we have begun to plan the transition to our next Senior Rabbi.

Beth Am’s Rabbinic Transition Committee has already conducted research on how best to make this transition a successful one. We have spoken with experts from the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with congregations that have recently been through a rabbinic transition, with past presidents and those involved in Beth Am’s previous transitions, with our clergy, Board, program and administrative teams. We have also learned about Reform congregations and non-congregational Jewish organizations who have creative visions for the future.

For the next stage of our rabbinic transition, we need your input into Beth Am’s vision for the next 5-10 years and what is most important in our next Senior Rabbi. These insights will be critically important in informing the Senior Rabbi search; we want the perspectives, passions and wisdom of our community! Your input can take multiple forms: send us your thoughts on the transition section of the Beth Am website or to transitions@betham.org; complete the survey distributed to all congregants by the deadline of March 31; and/or attend one of the input conversation sessions we have named ICARTs – Input Conversations Around Rabbinic Transition. The schedule below will be updated as we add additional Input Conversations. The preliminary dates and times are:

DATE TIME LOCATION
Friday, February 22 5:00 PM, Before our Shabbat Service Beit Kehillah
Friday, February 22 7:30 PM, After our Shabbat Service Beit Kehillah
Saturday, March 2 7:45 AM, Before Torah Study Room Aleph
Sunday, March 3 9:15 AM, During Sunday Program Beit Kehillah
Wednesday, March 6 8:30 PM, Videoconference via Zoom
(click to join at 8:30 PM on March 6)
Videoconference
Tuesday, March 12 1:00 PM, After BAW/BAM Hot Topics Lunch Social Hall
Sunday, March 17 12:00 PM, Sunday Afternoon Library
Sunday, March 17 3:00 PM, Sunday afternoon and
videoconference via Zoom
(click to join at 3:00 PM on March 17)
Library and
Videoconference

We look forward to all of your thoughts, suggestions and recommendations.

-- Alona Scott and Mike Kaplan, co-chairs of the Rabbinic Transition Committee

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Rabbinic Transition FAQs
(Posted December 2018)

Q: What's the timeline for the search and transition?
A: There are five primary stages to a Senior Rabbinic Transition:

  • Getting Ready (from now until the end of 2018) – We are speaking with experts from the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with leaders of congregations that have recently completed a rabbinic transition, and with those involved in Beth Am’s previous senior rabbinic transition, in order to learn from their experiences. Our transition committee chairs have also met with our clergy, program and administrative teams, with Beth Am’s Board members, with our past presidents and others to create a detailed transition plan.
  • Getting Input (first half of 2019) – We will engage the congregation in a series of discussions about the vision for Beth Am’s future. Our vision, and knowing what matters to us as a congregation, will enable us to prioritize the qualities we desire in our new Senior Rabbi.
  • Conducting the Search (mid-2019-early 2020) – We will form a search committee, co-led by Board member Rachel Gibson and me, to consider both internal and external candidates and to choose our next Senior Rabbi.
  • Saying Thank You (spring 2020) – As we approach June 2020, it will be time to say a big thank-you to Rabbi Marder for her inspiring guidance during her tenure as Senior Rabbi. While not a “goodbye,” as we expect that in her Emerita status she will remain in our community, we will create opportunities to recognize her generous spirit, keen intellect, courageous leadership and overall menschlichkeit.
  • Saying Hello (mid-2020 to early 2021) – We will welcome our new Senior Rabbi.

Q: Can I be on the search committee? How will members of the search committee be chosen?

The search committee will be selected by the chairs of the search committee, Bruce Ives and Rachel Gibson, in consultation with the board of directors, clergy, program team, past presidents, and transition committee. We will create a diverse and broadly representative group of members. If you wish to nominate someone to serve on the search committee, please send their name and a brief description explaining why you think they’d be a valuable member to us at transitions@betham.org.  

Q: Who can I talk to to let them know what I think?

All input about the overall transition can be sent to transitions@betham.org and will be read by the members of the transition committee. Input specifically about the search sent to this email address will be shared with the chairs of the search committee, Bruce Ives and Rachel Gibson. Closer to the launch of the search itself, a new email address specifically about the search will be created and shared with the congregation. In the coming weeks, we will be back in touch with information about Town Halls, smaller group gatherings, and an online survey.

Q: Why are we doing a search and not just promoting from within?

We have gotten great advice from the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) on best practices of how to manage a rabbinic transition. This includes conducting a robust search, including both internal and external candidates, to ensure the best long-term leadership for the congregation.

Q: Will there be and will we consider internal candidates? And if there’s an internal rabbi we really think should be Beth Am’s next senior Rabbi, whom do we tell?

Beth Am is committed to conducting a complete and authentic search. If there are internal candidates, the search committee will give their application the same care and consideration as external candidates, and vice versa. As mentioned above, any feedback specific to the search should be directed to transitions@betham.org.

Q: How do we support our Clergy, Program Team and Administrative Teams during this process?

We recognize that this period of anticipated change is a transition not only for our congregation, but also for our hard-working clergy, program team and administrative team. We can support them best through this process by directing transition inquiries and suggestions to those who will be leading this effort. Thank you in advance for doing your part to prevent this process from becoming a distraction in their sacred work.

Q: And what will Rabbi Marder do from now until June, 2020?

Rabbi Marder will continue to lead and inspire us and will be fully engaged as the Senior Rabbi we respect and love until that time

Q: Will there be other members of the Clergy, Program Team and Administrative Teams who leave? (Will people already working at Beth Am lose their jobs?)

Our Clergy, Program Team, and Administrative team do wonderful work and are all dear to us at Beth Am. We have been advised by the URJ and other congregations who have recently been through a senior rabbinic transition that a period of transition can sometimes lead members of the staff to remain a few years longer than they might have planned so that they can help guide the community through the transition. We have also heard from this same group of experts that a rabbinic transition can sometimes lead other members of the staff to consider new opportunities outside of the congregation. And, we also know, that the Bay Area is a transitory community and that some members of our clergy and staff might have personal or professional reasons to leave Beth Am regardless of the transition. All in all, we are optimistic, but will have to wait and see.

Q: What changes do we anticipate? How will a change in rabbis impact the “Beth Am Way?”

While the transition from one senior rabbi to the next is a significant moment in the life of a congregation, as a community that is 63 years old, there are elements of culture and strong core values that prevail even during transition. We see this as a moment to both be true to our roots and celebrate our future. Throughout this transition process we will have multiple opportunities to come together in small and large groups to affirm what is most important to us and develop a vision that is our shared, imagined future. That shared, imagined future will inform the job description that will help us identify and secure the strongest senior Rabbi for our congregation.

Q: And what will Rabbi Marder do next? (Subtext: will she officiate at my child’s Bar Mitzvah / Wedding, family funerals, etc.)

Rabbi Marder is looking forward to spending more time with her family, but otherwise has not yet made specific plans.

Q: How will we pay tribute to Rabbi Marder?

We are in the early stages of developing plans to recognize Rabbi Marder in the spring of 2020 in a way that is consistent both with Beth Am’s commitment to honoring our teachers and leaders and also respects Rabbi Marder’s deep humility. If you are interested in being involved in planning events in her honor, please let us know by emailing us at transitions@betham.org.

Q: What will the transition period or overlap between Rabbi Marder and the new rabbi be?

Each congregation’s transition is unique to its culture and the outgoing and incoming senior rabbis. Rabbi Marder has assured us that she will partner with the new senior rabbi to ensure a seamless transition during the spring of 2020 before she retires, as has Rachel Tasch, our Executive Director, and all members of the board of directors, program team, and administrative team. Though we have been blessed with Rabbi Marder’s remarkable leadership for many years, we have navigated other significant leadership transitions well and will look to those successes as well as insight shared by the URJ’s department of Consulting and Transition Management to support us in creating a seamless and successful transition.

Q: How can I stay up-to-date on what is happening during the transition?

We plan to provide frequent updates to the congregation in many forms - e-mails, The Builder, a dedicated page on the website and others - if you have suggestions, please send them along. We also plan a series of engagement events early in 2019 which will be a great opportunity to learn more about the transition as well as provide input into the process and our long-term vision as a congregation.

Q: When will the new rabbi be announced?

We expect that announcement in the Spring of 2020.

Q: Aren’t we also searching for a senior youth educator? How do these two searches fit together?

A committee has been hard at work, led by Rabbi Weissman and Debbie Mukamal, to create a vision and job description for the leader for our important youth education work at Beth Am. This Committee expects to have a new leader in place by July 2019.
 

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Message from Congregational President Bruce Ives
November 14, 2018

Dear Fellow Congregants,
 
In Pirkei Avot, Sayings of the Founders, we are told, “Make for yourself a teacher, acquire for yourself a friend.” We have been truly blessed, for the past 20 years, by the outstanding leadership of our teacher and friend, Rabbi Janet Marder. She has inspired us, as individuals and as a community, to become our best selves as we strive to live out the mission of Beth Am: “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.” We look forward to her teaching in the years to come and cherish her friendship always.
 
A key responsibility of our Board of Directors is to plan for our community’s collective future, and Rabbi Marder is a vital partner in our efforts. Recognizing the primacy of her role, she has given us ample notice that she plans to retire at the end of June 2020, upon completing the term of her current contract.  We respect our Rabbi’s decision, even as we struggle to imagine congregational life after her retirement. We are comforted by the knowledge that her retirement is richly deserved and that she will continue to be fully engaged as the Senior Rabbi we respect and love until that time. As Rabbi Marder would say, we will go from strength to strength.  
 
With that day still far on the horizon, now is the time for us to begin planning for our Senior Rabbi Transition. The “Transition” process is broader than the “Search” for a new senior rabbi, as it both precedes and follows the actual search process. In the coming months, we will focus on setting the vision for Beth Am for the next 5-10 years, engaging the congregation and receiving input that will guide our search.
 
This transition effort will be co-led by our former Treasurer and board member Mike Kaplan and by current board member Alona Scott, with the assistance of a committee comprised of: Rebecca DeHovitz, Michele Parker, Antoinette Rose, Debby Satten and Donnovan Yisrael.
 
There are five primary stages to a Senior Rabbinic Transition:

  1. Getting Ready (from now until the end of 2018) – We are speaking with experts from the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with leaders of congregations that have recently completed a rabbinic transition, and with those involved in Beth Am’s previous senior rabbinic transition, in order to learn from their experiences. Our transition committee chairs have also met with our clergy, program and administrative teams, with Beth Am’s board members, with our past presidents and others to create a detailed transition plan.
     
  2. Getting Input (first half of 2019) – We will engage the congregation in a series of discussions about the vision for Beth Am’s future. Our vision, and knowing what matters to us as a congregation, will enable us to prioritize the qualities we desire in our new Senior Rabbi.
     
  3. Conducting the Search (mid-2019-early 2020) – We will form a search committee, co-led by board member Rachel Gibson and me, to consider both internal and external candidates and to choose our next Senior Rabbi.
     
  4. Saying Thank You (spring 2020) – As we approach June 2020, it will be time to say a big thank-you to Rabbi Marder for her inspiring guidance during her tenure as Senior Rabbi. While not a “goodbye,” as we expect that in her Emerita status she will remain in our community, we will create opportunities to recognize her generous spirit, keen intellect, courageous leadership and overall menschlichkeit.
     
  5. Saying Hello (mid-2020 to early 2021) – We will welcome our new Senior Rabbi. 

We recognize that news of a change like this will spark a variety of feelings in each member of Beth Am. We hope that if you have questions or thoughts for us to consider, you will be in touch with me, Rachel Gibson, Mike Kaplan or Alona Scott at transitions@betham.org. We also recognize that this period of anticipated change is a transition not only for our congregation, but also for our hard-working clergy, program team and administrative team. We can support them best through this process by directing transition inquiries and suggestions to those who will be leading this effort. Thank you in advance for doing your part to prevent this process from becoming a distraction in their sacred work.
 
Look for future messages with specifics on how to get involved and provide input early in 2019. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me, Mike, Alona or Rachel at transitions@betham.org.
 
With deep respect for our leader and teacher, Rabbi Marder, with faith in our future, and confidence in our process,

Bruce Ives
Immediate Past President, Congregation Beth Am

Congregation Beth Am
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