Dear Friends:

Now that Rabbi Benjamin David has been officially selected as our next rabbi, the transition begins in earnest. With many aspects of this complicated process, we are actively moving forward and anticipate opportunities for all KI members to be involved.

Transition initiatives encompass honoring and saying “thank you and good-bye” to Rabbi Sussman and saying “hello” to Rabbi David. They do not happen overnight, and creating these opportunities are integral to the process, the planning and their ultimate success. We hope you will check in to this site to join in as we move through the many programs planned in the months ahead.

We are fortunate that we already have a major part of the transition up and running as Pam Saltzburg is ably chairing the year long opportunities to honor Rabbi Sussman on his retirement from KI. Lots of programs have occurred; many more still on the agenda which can be found here.

Concurrently, we are putting in place transition opportunities for Rabbi David. Coordinated by KI Membership and Engagement Director Jaimie Shmelzer, we will be focusing on events and opportunities so that Rabbi David will begin to get to know us, establish personal and professional relationships and better understand the rhythm of KI. There is no defined time for all of this to occur; it’s different for every rabbi and every congregation. We are concentrating on the quality of the transition rather than moving the process along too quickly.

These transition programs will begin upon Rabbi David’s arrival on July 1st. Until then, Rabbi David will be busy in his current congregation, Adath Emanu-El, as he says his farewells and helps to prepare his members for welcoming their new rabbi. As much as we all want to get to know him, we want to make certain he has the time to complete his tenure there at a pace indicative of his deep connections created there for many years. So we hope you will be patient as we plan lots of opportunities once Rabbi David arrives.

Here are just some areas that will be part of the KI transition – with more details to follow as we move through this:

Welcome Opportunities – both small and large group
Create summer and fall opportunities for Rabbi David to meet members in small groups for interactions and connections.

Public welcome
Welcome Rabbi David to the broader community and promote our transition programs, encouraging neighbors to visit KI and meet our new rabbi.

Relationship-building with Professional Staff
Team-building exercises with our professional staff
Familiarity with staff roles/responsibilities

Administrative Staff Scope of Responsibilities
Both social and work-related opportunities to clarify the gamut of administrative responsibilities so ably done by our office staff

Welcome Opportunities for our Students and their Families
Social gatherings with parent and students in age-related groups
Connections to our religious education staff

Community Faith Leaders
Create small group meetings between Rabbi David and community faith leaders to begin establishing open/ongoing connections for support, programming etc.

Introduction and Connection to Melrose B’nai Israel Emanu-El and HAMEC
Opportunities for both the staffs of MBIEE and HAMEC and Rabbi David to meet and deepen his understanding of their community and for them to get to know Rabbi David

The David Family
Welcome the entire David family. Create opportunities for Rabbi David’s wife Lisa and their three children to begin making connections. Help them better understand the community – neighborhoods with houses for sale? Where to shop? Where are the parks? Hiking trails? Scenic walks? etc.

Understanding KI Committees
Offer opportunities for Rabbi David to meet with committee chairs to understand each committee’s structure, goals, programming, vision, etc.

Information Transfer
With oversight by KI Executive Director Brian Rissinger, confirm and help create avenues for Rabbi David to be involved in an information transfer about our congregation, our practices and policies, etc.

We look forward to seeing all of you soon. As always, feel free to be in touch if you have any questions or suggestions. Please check back on this site for regular updates and opportunities.

L’shalom,

Janice Schwartz-Donahue

KI President
kipresident@kenesethisrael.org

Karen Sirota

KI Past President
Rabbinic Transition Chair
klsirota@gmail.com
215-740-0525


April 28, 2022

Dear Friends:

This year has been quite a busy one in our Rabbinic Leadership Transition. We have spent the past many months honoring and thanking Rabbi Sussman for his 21 years as our distinguished Senior Rabbi and for his significant accomplishments both within our congregation and the greater community. Concurrently, a Rabbinic Search Committee met for nearly a year and after an exhaustive search recommended Rabbi Benjamin David to succeed Rabbi Sussman. Following the KI Board of Trustees’ overwhelming majority to confirm that recommendation, the transition for Rabbi David to KI began in earnest.

We are well aware that a transition for a new rabbi to understand our complex congregation and for our members to get to know him can take the better part of a year, if not longer. To that end, a Rabbinic Transition Core Committee was named several months ago to create the structure for this important work. The members include:

Karen Sirota, Rabbinic Transition Chair
Jaimie Shmelzer, KI Membership Engagement Director
Andrew Altman
Arlene Holtz
Cantor Amy Levy
Norma Meshkov
Ryan Perlman
Brian Rissinger
Carey Roseman
Janice Schwartz-Donahue

After its initial work, the Core Committee delineated nine key areas to be considered and planned for. That decision led to the Transition Committee expansion to include KI members who would then create opportunities for Rabbi David and our members to get to know each other. Those on the expanded Transition Committee include:

Jody Brookman
Lynore Eisman
Sue Fried
Yoni Greenbaum
Elyse Herman
Evonne Kruger
Karen Langsfeld
Caryl Levin
Sharon Rhodes
Pam Saltzburg
Lise Schwartz
Ellen Segalow
Paulette Sterman-Soroko
Susan Zaslow
Debbie Zlotnick

As a result, the Committee designated five transition areas to KI Executive Director Brian Rissinger to coordinate those administrative aspects. The four program areas and chairs were then named and are as follows:

KI Committees – Arlene Holtz and Carey Roseman
Small Group Welcomes – Jody Brookman
Large Group Welcomes – Pam Saltzburg and Debbie Zlotnick
Religious School Students and Families – Deborah Rosen and Ellen Segalow

Watch your email and e-KI for specifics. The success of this historic rabbinic transition depends on our members’ participation. So come join us in community to share in this new beginning and to offer a warm KI welcome to Rabbi David.

Sincerely,

Janice Schwartz-Donahue, KI President

Karen Sirota, KI Rabbinic Transition Chair

Jaimie Shmelzer, KI Membership Engagement Director


January 20, 2022

KI Board of Trustees Approves KI’s Next Rabbi

Dear Congregants:

On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, the KI Board of Trustees overwhelmingly approved the recommendation of the Rabbinic Search Committee to offer the position of KI’s next rabbi to Rabbi Benjamin David, effective July 1, 2022.

This is indeed an historic moment in the life of our congregation as we welcome Rabbi David and also honor our beloved Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D., who will officially retire from KI after 21 years of distinguished service, and will be honored with the title of KI Rabbi Emeritus.

Rabbi David currently serves as rabbi at Adath Emanu-El in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, where he has been an inspiring leader for the past ten years. Prior to his rabbinate there, he served for seven years as Associate Rabbi at Temple Sinai in Roslyn Heights, NY.

A native of Cherry Hill, where his father served as Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel, Rabbi David is a Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Muhlenberg College, majoring in English Literature. Upon graduation, he entered Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion where he received a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters (2003) and was ordained in 2004.

During his tenure at Adath Emanu-El, Rabbi David formed meaningful relationships with his congregants, from the very young to seniors. He developed engaging programs, promoting real-world application of Jewish ideas. He explored and instituted diverse formal and informal worship opportunities, promoted his deep commitment to many Social Justice initiatives and expanded Israel engagement through text, dialogue and experience. Rabbi David has taught lifelong learning about contemporary issues, from race to gender to Jewish understandings of identity and patriotism, revitalized the post-Bnei Mitzvah program through community activity, advocacy and interfaith conversations and revitalized the adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation programs.

KI’s Search Committee was impressed with Rabbi David’s commitment to teaching and learning, building relationships and engaging those across a spectrum of ages and stages in meaningful Jewish life. Rabbi David is eager to join our community and is excited to partner with the professional and lay leadership and the entire KI membership, building on and supporting our outstanding work, as we journey toward the future together.

Rabbi David and his wife Lisa, Director of URJ Camp Harlam, have three children, Noa, Elijah and Sam, and they plan to relocate to our community and happily dwell among us.

Many thanks to our Search Committee members, staff and congregants who supported our efforts over these last seven months (click here for a full scope of work report). We appreciate their diligence, commitment and understanding of this sacred work that brought us to this joyous moment.

There will be small and large group opportunities, particularly over the summer, for our members to meet our next rabbi as we begin to connect and move ahead together from strength to strength.

L’shalom,
Janice Schwartz-Donahue

KI President and Search Committee Co-Chair

Karen Sirota

KI Past President and Search Committee Co-Chair

Find for yourself a rabbi, acquire for yourself a friend…
Pirkei Avot 1:6

  • The Jewish Exponent recently published a piece on the hire of Rabbi Benjamin David, effective July 2022 ~ Click here to read the article!
  • We look forward to welcoming Rabbi David to KI this summer!

December 1, 2021

Rabbinic Search Update

The past month has been a busy one for the Rabbinic Search Committee. When KI’s pulpit position was posted on the CCAR website, we received 18 rabbinic applications from many impressive candidates. The number of applicants reflects KI’s strong reputation in the Reform Movement, our esteemed history, the reputation of our programming, creative learning opportunities, many ways we make a difference and an interest by candidates in assuming the pulpit of our distinguished former rabbis and certainly Rabbi Sussman.  

The Search Committee carefully analyzed each rabbi’s resume and personal statement and invited several candidates for an initial Zoom meeting. Questions were created based on what was learned from both our congregational survey and the Focus Groups where members shared their hopes for KI’s future and the positive attributes of our next rabbi who will lead us there. As a reminder, Focus Groups are still ongoing and more than 75 KI members have already met in small groups. If you are interested in sharing your views about what is most meaningful for you at KI and how you envision our future, contact Liz Kaufman-Taylor (elizdrew@aol.com) to be part of an upcoming gathering.

We hope that the remaining days of Hanukkah are light- and joy-filled for you and your family.

Janice Schwartz-Donahue (kipresident@kenesethisrael.org)

Karen Sirota (klsirota@gmail.com)

Rabbinic Search Committee Co-Chairs (kirabbisearch@kenesethisrael.org)


October 22, 2021

Rabbinic Search Focus Groups – Make Your Voice Heard!

The Rabbinic Search Committee has been hard at work over the summer gathering feedback from the congregational survey. We are now looking to take a deeper dive with those members who are interested in participating in one of several focus groups. These gatherings will be an opportunity to discuss our hopes for the next rabbi and our vision for the future. The committee is eager to hear from you and share more about the search process. Make sure your voice is heard! Participate Here.

Janice Schwartz-Donahue (kipresident@kenesethisrael.org)

Karen Sirota (klsirota@gmail.com)

Rabbinic Search Committee Co-Chairs (kirabbisearch@kenesethisrael.org)


October 1, 2021

Focus Groups are Upcoming as We Await Candidate Applications

Dear Friends:

Now that the congregation survey is completed and results have been analyzed, the Rabbinic Search Committee has turned its attention to planning the upcoming Focus Groups. Coordinated by Liz Kaufman-Taylor, Marijke Shenkman and Andrew Altman, these will be opportunities for KI members to gather in small, facilitated groups – some in-person and others virtually – to discuss important attributes of the next KI Rabbi and to envision ways to build on our robust community and secure our future together. An email invitation will be sent to all members soon. Those KI members interested in sharing their perspectives are encouraged to return the requested form as this is yet another way to be part of the process and for your voice to be heard. We look forward to your participation.

Our detailed application to post our rabbinic search was completed and submitted to the Placement Office of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). We expect it to be posted on the CCAR website in the next several days. The first group of applicants will be sent to us in the next few weeks, and the committee will review the applications and invite candidates for the first virtual interviews. Search Committee members have been creating thoughtful interview questions so that we can evaluate which candidate will be the best fit for KI.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact either of us at kirabbisearch@kenesethisrael.org or at our individual email addresses below.

Until next month – or sooner if we have specific updates…

L’shalom,

Janice Schwartz-Donahue (kipresident@kenesethisrael.org)

Karen Sirota (klsirota@gmail.com)

Rabbinic Search Committee Co-Chairs


August 16, 2021

Rabbinic Search – Congregation Survey Report

Dear Congregants:

We would like to thank those of you in our congregation who took the time to fill out the Rabbinic Search Congregation Survey.  The information gleaned will help to inform the Search Committee’s work as we move through this important process.

There will be many other opportunities in the coming months for KI congregants to meet with members of the Rabbinic Search Committee to discuss these questions and answers more fully, and to review any additional questions you may have.  We realize that the selection of the next Rabbi and the resulting transition are critical times for our congregation, and we want to make sure we are respectful of the broad range of individual emotions and perspectives generated by the retirement of Rabbi Sussman and the welcoming of our next Rabbi. 

Below are the survey results, as well as a summary of the trends that are reflected in our disaggregated data. Please note: The survey data has been broken down by detailed sub-categories, in this case by age cohorts.

Comments or Questions: please feel free to email us:

Sincerely,

Janice Schwartz Donahue  jschwartzdonahue@gmail.com

Karen Sirota klsirota@gmail.com

Rabbinic Search Committee Co-chairs kirabbisearch@kenesethisrael.org

 

Rabbinic Search Survey Results:
Question #1
What qualities in our next Rabbi are most important to you?

While we know all of these categories are important, the trends showed that Pastor, Relational Leader and Visionary were our top three choices.

Pastor:  Caring pastoral presence, sensitive, attentive, and approachable, sharing joyful times, and offering comfort and support to congregants regardless of age, gender, race or socio-economic status

Relational leader:   Approachable, and has easy rapport with adults, children and young families

Visionary:   Committed to a vibrant, engaged, spiritual community willing to explore changes that move KI in healthy, new directions that deepen connections and encourage new members to join KI

There was a difference in the age group 18-34 who chose Relational Leader, Social Justice Advocate and Visionary as very important characteristics slightly ahead of Pastor

Relational leader:  Approachable, and has easy rapport with adults, children and young families

Social Justice Advocate:  Passionate about issues of social justice, and committed to social action by engaging the congregation in the work of advocacy

Visionary:  Committed to a vibrant, engaged, spiritual community willing to explore changes that move KI in healthy, new directions that deepen connections and encourage new members to join KI

 

Question # 2
What are the most important things our next Rabbi needs to know about our congregation?

We are an inclusive congregation, demographics changing and proud of our music & arts program

Our inclusive congregation welcomes all who are interested in a connection to Jewish life. Our rabbi officiates at life cycle events including interfaith and LGBTQ weddings

KI’s demographics are changing: We are an aging congregation in a neighborhood with unaffiliated Jews whom we seek to bring into our congregation

KI is proud of its beautiful music, art, and culture which are reflected in its rich programming

 

Question # 3
What are the most important issues confronting KI in the next 5 years?

Attracting members, Changing demographics and Transition of a new(next) Rabbi are the three most important and crucial issues regarding our growth over the next 5 years. 

Attracting new members in all age demographics, especially younger members, in order to remain relevant, vibrant and financially sound

Changing demographics, an aging membership, declining Jewish population, and local unaffiliated Jews to cultivate for membership

Transition of next Rabbi

 

Question # 4

We turned your answers into a Word Cloud with the larger printed words those words that were found most often.

 

Question # 5
What else do you want us to know as we begin our search for our next Rabbi?

Thanks for all of your interesting comments.  

We plan on hearing from the rest of our congregation in the months ahead.

 

Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-W2RHDZQD9/


July 14, 2021

Rabbinic Search Congregation Survey

Dear Congregants:
As we begin our search for KI’s next Rabbi, we are creating opportunities for our members to be part of this sacred journey. At this onset, we have created a survey for members to complete so that we can identify those attributes and issues that are most important to our congregants, and reflect the diversity of our membership. Completed surveys should be submitted by August 2, 2021. If you would like assistance filling out the online survey, please call the KI office (215-887-8700). If you have already completed our survey, we thank you for your participation and encourage the rest of our KI community to partake as well! We look forward to reading your responses and keeping you apprised of this important process.
Rabbinic Search Committee Survey is Closed.
Thank you for your participation! – Results will be posted soon!
L’shalom,
Janice Schwartz Donahue
KI President and Search Committee Co-chair

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.

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

Search Process FAQs

Why are we conducting a search for our next Senior Rabbi?
After 22 years of distinguished service to the members of KI, our Senior Rabbi Lance Sussman is officially retiring from the KI pulpit on June 30, 2022. His last Shabbat on the pulpit will be June 24-25, 2022. This fall (2021) will be his last High Holy Days with us as Senior Rabbi.

How is the Senior Rabbinic Search Committee selected?
In accordance with the KI By-laws, the President names the Search Committee as follows:
The Committee shall include the Vice Presidents, the Chair of the Religious Practices Committee, the Chair of the Finance Committee, at least one Past President and such other persons as are designated by the President.

Other members include at-large congregants who represent our demography of age and varying interests, parents of children in our Preschool, JQuest and Confirmation Academy and parents with college age students. Past Presidents who have an understanding and experience with the rabbinic search process were also invited. Committee members also represent families that have been at KI for many generations, and those relatively new to our community.

Who is on the Senior Rabbinic Search Committee?
An up-to-date list of all Search Committee members may be found at the following link.

Who are KI’s professional partners in the search process:
The Placement Office of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Reform rabbinic professional leadership organization, helps guide congregations in the many aspects of their rabbinic search process. The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) provides confidential search and transition support with a keen eye to the needs of each individual congregation.

What is the process to select our next Senior Rabbi?
The Senior Rabbinic Search Committee members are charged with the following tasks:

1. Develop a process of reflection to engage members and staff in determining the most important attributes of the next Senior Rabbi, primary goals of the congregation and KI’s strengths and most important challenges over the next five years.
July- November

These reflections will be a result of:

• A congregation-wide survey sent to all members to understand the important attributes of and hopes for the next Senior Rabbi.
July 2021 (See link for results) COMPLETED

• Focus groups of 10-12 members to gather for specific questions and open discussion about the process, members’ aspirations and vision for KI’s future
October – November 2021

• One-on-one conversations with members in specific age/interest groups
September – November 2021

2. The Search Committee co-chairs submit a detailed application to the CCAR that comprises the results of the process of reflection as well as details about KI (history, finances, governance structure, etc.).
September 2021 COMPLETED

3. The Search Committee receives and reviews candidate applications, and determines which candidates to contact to be invited for a virtual interview with the Committee.
October – December 2021

4. Based on the virtual interview, the Search Committee decides which candidates should be invited for a second interview or for an in-person visit to KI.
November 2021– January 2022

5. Each candidate is invited individually to travel to KI for a comprehensive day of touring our building and local community, meeting with Sr. Staff and lay leaders and with the Committee for dinner and then a comprehensive interview. The rabbi candidate may meet with small groups and perhaps offer a D’var Torah or teaching session.
December 2021 – January 2022

6. Search Committee begins due diligence on each candidate still being considered, contacting candidates’ references as well as others who can offer reflections on the rabbis’ attributes.
December 2021- January 2022

7. The final candidates are separately invited back to KI to tour areas of the community, ask pertinent questions, meet with the Search Committee and other leaders.
January 2022

8. The Search Committee reviews each remaining candidate’s responses, resume and references. After an open discussion, the Committee votes on their recommendation and the condition of employment.
Then, according to the KI By-laws,:
The President shall convene a meeting of the Board of Trustees after at least two weeks notice of time, place and purpose of such meeting. At such meeting, the Committee shall recommend to the Board a person to be employed as Senior Rabbi and the conditions of such employment. An affirmative vote of at least 2/3 of the Board, present and voting, shall be required to employ a Senior Rabbi.
January 2022

What is a Senior Rabbi Search Focus Group?
Focus groups are small group gatherings (of about 10-12 members) where attendees are invited to share their connection to KI, their vision for KI’s future, what are KI’s most important attributes and challenges for the next Senior Rabbi to be aware of. It is also an opportunity for members to make connections to each other and be part of this most important process.

Who selects the next Senior Rabbi?
The Senior Rabbinic Search Committee will, after the process delineated above, will decide by discussion and ultimate vote as to their recommendation of which candidate they feel will be the optimal candidate to serve our congregation. That recommendation is presented at the Board of Trustees meeting, and the Board votes on the said recommendation.

May I personally recommend a person for the position of Senior Rabbi?
According to the CCAR guidelines, if you know of a rabbi who might be someone for the Search Committee to consider, the rabbi cannot be contacted directly. His/her name must be submitted to either Co-chair of KI’s Rabbinic Search Committee who, in turn, will contact the CCAR Placement Director, who will then contact the rabbi to see if there is an interest in pursuing our pulpit. The only obligation of our synagogue is to then invite this rabbi to an onsite visit and interview.

What is the role of an Interim Rabbi?
If, at the end of the search process, Search Committee finds that none of the candidates possess the desired attributes that are believed to be the right fit for KI, the Search Committee may instead make a recommendation that we choose an Interim Rabbi for a year. Interim Rabbis are specially trained to help a congregation clarify its goals and objectives for a permanent Senior Rabbi, while performing the rabbinic duties for the synagogue. Since Interim Rabbis are not eligible to become permanent Rabbis, they are in a unique position to work with the congregational leadership to help the congregation prepare for the next spiritual leader.

What if I have additional questions about the Search?
Questions should be sent to Rabbinic Search Co-chairs:
Janice Schwartz Donahue – kipresident@kenesethisrael.org
Karen Sirota – klsirota@gmail.com


Dear Friends:

We look forward to all KI members joining on this journey and this specific page will keep you apprised about the search for our next rabbi. We will update this monthly or more frequently if warranted. Please note that newest entries will appear at the top and then are in descending order date-wise. For those new to this site, you can read from the bottom up for all the information already posted.

We join with the Search Committee (members listed here) in looking forward to this important work and the eventual recommendation to KI’s Board of Trustees of a rabbinic candidate to assume the pulpit of our historic and beloved congregation. Also, please note the FAQ section (to be found here) with information about the search process.

If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to email either of us at the addresses below.

L’shalom,
Janice Schwartz Donahue
KI President and Search Committee Co-chair
kipresident@kenesethisrael.org

Karen Sirota
KI Past President and Search Committee Co-chair
klsirota@gmail.com