Rabbinic Transition | Congregation Beth Am

Rabbinic Transition

Rabbinic Transition

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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
President, Congregation Beth Am

Congregation Beth Am
  • 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
  • (650) 493-4661 Contact Us

We strive to live as a holy community whose study and practice of Judaism inspires and challenges us to "do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).