July 12, 2021
Rabbinic Search Committee Begins Its Work
Dear KI Members,
In Pirkei Avot, the Sayings of the Founders, we are told, “Make for yourself a teacher, acquire for yourself a friend.” Indeed, that has been true as we have been blessed for the past 21 years by the outstanding leadership of our teacher and friend, Rabbi Lance Sussman, who has announced his retirement from KI as of June 30, 2022.
As we prepare for Rabbi Sussman’s retirement, we are now involved in two specific areas: making plans to celebrate his years as our Rabbi, and conducting our search for our next Rabbi. This is a sacred undertaking that does not happen often. Rabbi Sussman is only the 8th Rabbi in KI’s 174-year history.
The Search Committee
In accordance with the KI By-laws, it is the congregational President’s duty to name a Search Committee that reflects the diversity of our congregation. Our By-laws specify that certain Officers, Board members and Trustees serve, as well as congregants-at-large who represent different demographics including age groups, and constituent and cohort groups. We felt that it was important to invite parents of children who are currently in the Preschool, JQuest, and Confirmation Academy, as well as parents with college age students. We also invited Past Presidents who have an understanding and experience with the rabbinic search process. Our committee members are also representative of families that have been at KI for many generations, as well as those who are relatively new to our community. Those on the committee include:
RABBINIC SEARCH COMMITTEE
Search Committee Co-chairs
Janice Schwartz-Donahue has been a member of KI for nearly 40 years although her family’s connection to KI reaches back to the 1920s. She taught 5th grade in Philadelphia for 39 years and was an active KI Sisterhood member, serving as Sisterhood Co-President in 2007-08 where she coordinated countless programs and events. She then served as KI Board Secretary and Vice President before assuming the leadership of KI as President in 2019 and she remains in that position today. Janice is a long-time volunteer at the Gift of Life Family House for Organ Transplant patients and their families and has been an advocate for Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness for the past 25 years. Inspired by the loss of her beloved daughter Jessica, Janice established a College Scholarship Program for students who have had life saving solid organ transplants, raising over $130,000 in scholarships that honor her daughter’s memory.
Karen Sirota has been a KI member since 1983. She has been an active member on most committees and was KI Bulletin editor for 15 years. Karen served as KI Assistant Secretary, Vice President and then President for four years (2000-04). She remains active in the life of KI and as a Board Trustee. Karen chaired the 2000-01 Senior Rabbinic Search Committee that recommended Rabbi Lance Sussman serve as our Senior Rabbi. Subsequent to her KI presidency, she worked at the Union for Reform Judaism for 15 years, the last nine of which she served as URJ Large Congregations Director. Karen and her husband Rob have three married sons, each of whom became a Bar Mitzvah and Confirmand at KI.
Rabbinic Search Committee
Andrew Altman has served on several committees, including Education, Men’s Room Refurbishment, Finance, Investment, Rabbinic Search, and Spring Celebration 2022, and was co-chair of the Hazak initiative and the 2021 Spring Celebration committee. He joined KI with his family fifteen years ago. He and his husband were married at KI seven years ago and their son became a Bar Mitzvah and was confirmed here. He has served on the Board of Directors for six years and is currently Vice-President.
Andrew Eimer has been a KI member for 4 years and his children, who are fifth generation members of KI, currently attend JQuest, KI’s religious school. He is currently a Project Manager on the Hedge Fund and Private Credit team at PJT Park Hill.
Marc Furman has been a member of KI since the early 1960s. He became a Bar Mitzvah, was confirmed, and married (the first time around) at KI. Marc served on both the KI Executive Committee and Board of Trustees, the latter as a regular and Senior Trustee, as well as in the positions of KI Treasurer, Associate Secretary and Secretary for about 10 years. Marc has served on or chaired many committees over the years and remains an active congregant. Outside of KI, Marc is the Chair of the Labor and Employment Group of Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman, PC, headquartered in Philadelphia.
Joe Gordon has been a KI member since 2011, shortly before he and his wife Jennie Choe were married. He is in practice as an immigration lawyer, has served as Board Trustee since 2017, has joined the Social Justice and Music Committees, and has a daughter participating in JQuest for the third year.
Elyse Herman has been a KI member for 12 years. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees and Board of Directors. Elyse was a teacher in the KI Preschool, Religious School and Confirmation Academy. She currently teaches 4th grade at JQuest. Elyse is married with two children. Her daughter is in Kindergarten and attends JQuest. Her son is in the KI Preschool.
Dr. Arlene B. Holtz is Chair of the KI Social Justice Committee and also serves on the Board of Directors, Board of Trustees and Religious Practices Committee. She is a lay leader for the Shabbat Torah Chavurah, the mid-week Tanakh study group and for Shabbat morning services. She worked as both a public and Jewish educator and currently serves as the Board Chair of a charter school in Philadelphia. She has been a member of KI for 25 years.
Isaak Kruger, KI member since 2005, is the current Treasurer after serving on the Finance and Investment Committees and Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Evonne, are Shabbat Torah Study and midweek Tanakh Study leaders, and active Adult Education and Library program presenters. He is a graduate of the Melton Program. During his professional career he was Senior Director, Strategic Planning and Executive Affairs at a national medical society where he helped restructure the society, did leadership development while responsible for two boards and laid the groundwork for a Washington presence. He also served as director of graduate medical education and administrative director of perioperative services at several medical centers, responsible for educational program accreditation and professional contracts.
Norma Meshkov is a second generation and lifelong member of KI. She attended KI Religious School and was a Confirmand as well. Norma and her husband, Dr. Arnold Meshkov, also a KI lifelong member, were married by KI Rabbi Bertram Korn. Norma served as KI Treasurer and Vice President and then President (1998-2000) and spent several years as librarian for KI’s Meyers Library. Norma and Arnold are honored to have been the first couple to have separately served as KI Presidents. She currently serves as Chair of the Friends of the Temple Judea Museum of KI.
Ryan Perlman has been a KI member for four years. He grew up locally and attended Adath Jeshurun. Ryan earned a teaching certificate from Gratz College and taught Hebrew school & tutored bar/bat mitzvahs students for 25 years. He is a partner in his family packaging business started by his grandfather. Ryan and his wife Tracy have a son Joah, who is in sixth grade in KI’s religious school.
Carey S. Roseman is a lifetime member of KI, the 4th generation of her family. She has served in numerous leadership positions and, ultimately, as President from 2004-2007. Carey is “married with children” and a retired corporate attorney.
Will Saltzburg is a fifth-generation member of KI; he became a bar mitzvah, was confirmed, and was active in KI’s Temple Youth Group, KIFTY. As a young adult, Will served on the NFTY-PAR Regional Board and NFTY North American Board as Membership Vice President. Will remains active in supporting the NFTY-PAR regional board and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Will graduated from American University in December 2020 and currently works for Everytown for Gun Safety in Washington, DC.
Lisè Schwartz has been a KI member since moving to Philadelphia 16 years ago. She has served KI as Membership Director, Confirmation Academy Class representative (for her son’s graduating class) and now chairs the Religious Practices Committee. She is on the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees. Lisè is a graduate of the URJ Schindler Fellows Membership Certification Program and has served on other URJ synagogue boards in New York. Lisè is a Change and Transition practitioner helping organizations and individuals improve performance and achieve career objectives.
Liz Kaufman-Taylor has been a member of KI for 15 years, although her family has a rich history with KI and her kids are 4th generation. Liz has led several committees that revolve around family engagement through programming and volunteerism. She has been on KI’s Board Trustee for about ten years and remains an active congregant. Liz has a dual masters from Brandeis University in Jewish Communal Service and Non-profit Management. Helping non-profits implement Salesforce CRM is Liz’s day job — working with Moving Traditions and other small organizations in the community.
Dick Weiss has been a KI member for 17 years and is a member of the Board of Trustees and the Investment Committee. He was formerly chairman of the Religious Observance Committee, a Vice-President, and was KI President from 2011-2013. Dick is a retired radiologist.
In the next few days KI members will receive a survey asking for their thoughts on the following questions:
1. What qualities in our next Rabbi would be most important to you?
2. What are the most important things the next rabbi needs to know about our congregation?
3. What are the most important issues confronting KI in the next 5 years?
This survey will be sent to our members, by email (for those with email addresses on file) and regular mail. Should you need assistance, please call the KI office (215-887-8700) and a member of the office staff or Search Committee will assist you in filling it out. The survey results will help inform the Search Committee of the attributes important to our members which will, in turn, be considered when filling out the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) application. That organization and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) will assist us in the search process and in identifying prospective candidates. We hope that you will consider the questions seriously and respond thoughtfully by the requested due date so that your opinions can be heard.
Everyone in our KI community is an integral part of this process. The initial survey is just the beginning. Small focus group meetings, led by Search Committee members, are also being planned for the months ahead. At these meetings, there will be opportunities for group discussions and to ask questions. For your convenience, we even created an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that you can contact us for information, answers or comments.
As our historic synagogue and its members emerge from a global pandemic, and as we begin our 174th year, we look forward to “Building On Our Legacy and Ensuring The Future”!