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 have several opportunities for members to voice their opinions. We thank those who filled out our survey. Next up will be a series of Focus Groups (to begin in October) with opportunities for members to meet in small gatherings (most likely virtual) to discuss areas of the rabbinate that are most meaningful to them. Stay tuned for information and plan to join us.

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


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:

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

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