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A Message from Rabbinic Pulpit Search Committee

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:

Janice Schwartz-Donahue – KI President and Rabbinic Search Committee Co-chair
Karen Sirota – KI Past President and Rabbinic Search Committee Co-chair
Andrew Altman – KI Vice President
Isaak Kruger – KI Treasurer
Lisè Schwartz – Religious Practices Committee Chair
Andrew Eimer – Board Trustee and JQuest Parent Representative
Marc Furman – At-Large Representative and former Rabbinic Search Committee member
Joe Gordon – Board Trustee and JQuest parent
Elyse Herman – Board of Directors member, Board Trustee and Preschool parent
Arlene Holtz – Board of Directors member, Board Trustee and Social Justice Committee Chair
Liz Kaufman-Taylor – Board Trustee and Confirmation parent
Norma Meshkov – KI Past President and Board Trustee
Ryan Perlman – At-Large Representative and JQuest parent
Carey S. Roseman – KI Past President and Board Trustee
William Saltzburg – At-Large Representative and Former KIFTY and NIFTY Board member
Dick Weiss – KI Past President and Board Trustee

Congregational Survey
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.

Looking Ahead
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 (kirabbisearch@kenesethisrael.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”!

L’shalom,
Janice Schwartz Donahue
KI President and Search Committee Co-chair
Karen L. Sirota
KI Past President and Search Committee Co-chair