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A Time of Transition

Dear Keneseth Israel Community,

In Rabbi Sussman’s letter, he shared news of his decision to step down from his position as KI’s Senior Rabbi and begin the next phase of his life. As with any significant change, I imagine that you may greet this news with a broad range of emotions: understanding, appreciation, sadness, concern, apprehension or surprise.

During Rabbi Sussman’s 20-year tenure, he elevated KI’s profile nationally and internationally by helping develop and make accessible our KI Archives, by establishing KI’s visual Tefillah and streaming, and by being a prolific and esteemed scholar of Judaism. Rabbi Sussman also helped create and grow programs deeply rooted in serving our community locally. With his guidance and involvement, the KI Puppets helped teach our children, HaMotzi feeds those in need, and our Interfaith and Social Justice efforts are flourishing.

Over the years, many have been comforted by Rabbi Sussman during times of grief, others nurtured when they needed healing, and still others celebrated during Mitzvahs and happy lifecycle occasions. By definition a rabbi is a teacher, but Rabbi Sussman is so much more to us personally: he has been our visionary, spiritual leader, confidante, historian, cheerleader, advocate, humorist, mentor and friend.

Rabbi Sussman referred to his years at KI as a “season of joy,” and expressed that the coming year, including welcoming a new rabbi, will be a “season of transition, a time of hope and gratitude.” With that, Rabbi has graciously set the tone for us for the next fourteen months. Saying goodbye to our Rabbi will include an ongoing celebration of his accomplishments and an opportunity to honor someone who means a great deal to us.

I encourage all of you to join us as we support Rabbi and Liz Sussman through this process, wishing them good health and happiness in their next chapter.

In tandem with our farewell celebration planning, we will begin an active search for a new Senior Rabbi. Our congregation has the appeal and reputation to draw exciting qualified candidates, with the credentials necessary to lead our historic community; a Rabbi who will follow and build on the achievements of the great Rabbis of KI’s past. The Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis have provided a detailed roadmap to aid us in our search and transition, and we have the expertise of congregants and past presidents who brought Rabbi Sussman to our Bimah 20 years ago. You will all be given the opportunity to share your vision, hopes, needs and desires for the future of our congregation.

We look forward to moving from strength to strength.


Janice Schwartz-Donahue