More Information and FAQs

Please mark your calendar for the evening of Thursday, January 14th, to meet Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah Citrin in person and attend a Special Congregational Meeting.

12/13/15

As we announced in our last email, the TBD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept the Rabbinic Search Committee’s (“RSC”) nomination of Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah Citrin as Co-Rabbis and Co-Educational Directors. The RSC and the Board of Trustees are confident that Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah Citrin, two experienced and talented rabbis, meet the criteria set forth by the Congregation in the Congregational Needs Committee survey, the three Community Forums held in the fall and in the many, many conversations held with Temple members. They will bring a sense of joy, “ruach” (spirit) and “kavanah” (intention) that will uplift our community.

In accordance with the By-Laws of Temple Beth David, we will hold a congregational vote on January 14th. In order for the congregation to have sufficient time to understand the new model and get to know the Rabbis Citrin, there will be several opportunities, via Skype and in person, to meet Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah. In addition, there will be multiple opportunities, in person, by phone and via email, for questions and answers with David Wang, Lisa Fassberg Weller and Amy Cook.

As you read through this email, we have answered some of what we anticipate are the first and most basic questions. In addition, we will be holding two Community Q & A sessions on December 20 at 11:00 am and 7:00 pm where Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah will join us via Skype. The Citrins will also journey back to TBD on January 13th and 14th for a visit that will provide additional opportunities to meet with congregants (the exact schedule has not been firmed up at this time).

Please mark your calendars for Thursday evening, January 14th, to meet Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah in person and participate in our Congregational Meeting.

 

FAQs

What is this new staffing model?

Three years ago, due to the decrease in our membership, the size of our school and the corresponding decrease in our budget, the Board of Trustees made the very difficult decision to reduce the Educator and Cantor/Cantorial Soloist positions from full time to part time. Since that time, we have been operating with a full time Rabbi, a part time Educator and a limited service Cantor.

During our initial Skype interview with Rabbi Karen (who originally applied as a solo Rabbi), the RSC was introduced to the concept of a co-Rabbinate. We were very interested in learning more about how Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah worked together. We spoke to the CCAR Placement Office about the model and several members of the RSC had calls with lay leaders of other synagogues with husband and wife clergy teams. We learned that many smaller congregations like ourselves have clergy that fill multiple roles. We became comfortable with the integrated and seamless approach of the Citrins and, after reviewing the responses of the congregation to the Congregational Needs Survey related to staff, thought a co-rabbinate could potentially meet the priorities of our community. The RSC sought and received approval from the Board to explore alternative staffing models. The RSC reviewed the timing of our current staff contracts, had extensive discussions of possible staffing configurations and considered the opportunities they present.

Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah are very accustomed to sharing rabbi and educator duties and working as a team, having worked together in San Mateo, CA and Tulsa, OK. With thirteen and eleven years of experience respectively and each having a Masters in Jewish Education, they will provide a unique and integrated approach to leading our congregation. Together, they will share the positions of full time Rabbi and part time educator, as well as help to guide the musical vision of our community

We will work with the Rabbis Citrin to engage a High Holiday Cantor or Cantorial Soloist and a music professional to assist with our choir. Rabbi Karen and/or Rabbi Micah will lead music during our regular services and both will be on the bimah for B’nei Mitzvah. As we said before, music is a very important part of their rabbinate and their lives. They both chant Torah beautifully and will take on the responsibilities of teaching our students trope prior to the students’ working with their Bar or Bat Mitzvah tutor.

 

What about our current staff?

Knowing that Temple Beth David was heading into an interim year and a rabbi search, the Board intentionally created contracts that would expire simultaneously with the expiry of the Interim Rabbi’s contract so as to keep all options open regarding staffing. Existing contracts for Rabbi Crystal, Aviva Scheur and Cantor Fine all expire June 30, 2016. Lay leadership has been in touch with Aviva, Cantor Fine and our teachers about the change in staffing.

We are very grateful to Aviva Scheur for what will be her two years of service. Aviva joined us at a very difficult time in our history and has worked very hard to maintain the high caliber of our Religious School. We thank her for her work and look forward to completing the year with her.

We are also very grateful to Cantor Geoff Fine for his musical leadership during this past year. Cantor Fine was hired for one year; he is looking for a full-time position that can provide more work than we have to offer. His lovely voice and guitar have added much to our worship. He has also rejuvenated the adult choir.

Rabbi Crystal and Cantor Fine have led us in spiritual High Holiday Services, led our Shabbat worship services and officiated at numerous life cycle events this year. We are fortunate to be able to continue to share our joys and mourn our losses with them throughout the rest of the Temple year.

We are also fortunate that Rita Cohen will continue to greet our congregation with a smile, answer phones, and manage the many details that her job entails to keep Temple Beth David running smoothly and that Roberto Vasconcelos will continue to keep our building clean and set up for all the various functions.

 

What kind of due diligence was done and by whom?

For each resume received, the members of the RSC began by doing online research on the candidate including reading sermons, Temple bulletins and other published work.

The RSC reviewed eleven resumes, held five Skype interviews and invited three candidates (counting Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah) to visit Temple Beth David. After the visits, we unanimously agreed that we wanted to continue vetting Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah with the intention of recommending them as our clergy to the Board.

We conducted reference checks via conference call with more than one dozen individuals. Between 2 to 5 members were present on each call. We spoke with: Senior Rabbis, Lay Leaders (including Presidents, Past Presidents and various Committee Chairs and members), a past Youth Group Leader, current congregants, the Temple Administrator, Rabbi David Wolfman (formerly the Director of the Reform Movement’s Commission on Rabbi-Congregational Relations and currently a consultant on issues surrounding organizational change and transition) and the CCAR Placement Office.

The response was overwhelming. Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah were described as thoughtful, warm, respectful, creative, engaging, professional and collaborative.The Search Committee also reviewed written and shared verbal feedback from the individuals who met with the Citrins during their visit. Comments included “warm and poised,” “expressed sensitivity to various and differing opinions,” “contagious energy and warmth,” “very real, spiritual and down to earth,” “having two young children of their own will help them connect right away with many congregation members who tend to be family oriented.”

Finally, Amy Cook and Lisa Fassberg Weller, the Search Committee Co-Chairs, visited Temple Israel in Tulsa for the opportunity to see the Rabbis lead services and interact with the congregation. They attended a preschool Shabbat celebration, Friday night services and Saturday morning services and Torah study. Amy and Lisa spoke with many individuals at Temple Israel. The warmth and sincere appreciation expressed by all, in addition to what they observed throughout the visit, confirmed the work of the Search Committee and reinforced the decision to bring Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah to Temple Beth David.

 

Who did the Rabbis meet with when they visited in the fall?

Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah had a very busy few days when they visited Temple Beth David in October. They met with Rabbi Crystal, Cantor Fine and Rita Cohen, as well as members of the Religious Practices Committee and the Religious School Committee. They attended a meet and greet with past presidents of the congregation. They led a lovely Havdalah service for the Board, the RSC and their spouses, followed by a dessert reception. They presented a D’var Torah to the Search Committee, followed by a far-ranging interview. There were meetings with the Search Committee Co-Chairs and the President, David Wang.

All totaled, we estimate that more than 80 members of the Temple Community had the opportunity to meet the Citrins on their October visit. Unfortunately, Rabbi Zoob was unable to meet with them at that time, but they have been in touch by email and phone and have plans to meet in January.

 

How does Rabbi Crystal fit into this process?

As our Interim Rabbi, Rabbi Crystal has been a stabilizing force for our congregation and a great support to lay leadership and the Committee Co-Chairs throughout the search process. He has been a resource for us and for our candidates. We are grateful for all he has done and continues to do for our community.

Rabbi Crystal did not participate in reviewing resumes or in the interviews themselves. That work was correctly left to the Search Committee. He helped us to clarify our thoughts, create an application that accurately reflected our community, hone our interview questions to elicit valuable answers, and advocated on our behalf.

Rabbi Crystal will continue fulfilling his pulpit and pastoral responsibilities, helping to prepare us to welcome our new rabbis and creating a guide for the next Rabbis to better understand our congregation, our customs and “minhag” (traditions).

Here is an excerpt from the personal statement that Rabbi Karen and Rabbi Micah submitted with their résumés.

“Community binds us together with shared purpose and vision. Our vision of the synagogue is a home where people share their unique contributions and receive the gifts of others. When leading a community, we develop its organizational and financial health in order to realize its spiritual purpose. We affirm the Reform values of equality and belonging for all. We seek to offer multiple entry points to Jewish exploration. We open doors to the richness of Jewish life by creating communities of families who learn and celebrate together, leading trips to Israel, developing intergenerational worship, making lunches for hungry people in our neighborhood, and empowering volunteers to visit the sick and comfort mourners. It is a privilege to escort congregants through the cycles and seasons of life, and to listen in moments of pastoral counseling. Even as we continue to write our Jewish story in America, it is a blessing to witness the thriving State of Israel. We join with Jews all over the world in kinship and responsibility for shaping the future of the State of Israel, and Am Yisrael, the Jewish People.”

“In our rabbinates, we embrace a bold vision of what is possible in Jewish life. As leaders of Jewish community, we strive to motivate and inspire, lead and nurture staff and volunteers, and partner with you to build the future. We are looking for our Jewish home; a holy congregation to lead, and a community where we can settle and raise our family. Individually or together, we offer a variety of rabbinic and educational leadership skills to meet the challenges and opportunities of 21st century Judaism. We look forward to being with you, to learning your core values and strengths, and to exploring the possibilities of our collective future. We would be honored to join you, as together we seek meaning, renewal, and healing for our world.”

 

Please join us on December 20th for one of the Community Q & A Sessions and on January 14th for a Special Congregational Meeting (time to be announced).

If you would like to speak to one of us directly, please reach us at the phone numbers and email addresses below.

 

We look forward to strengthening our community together.

David Wang, President

president@templebethdavid.net

505-359-6965

 

Lisa Fassberg Weller, Co-Chair Rabbinic Search Committee

liswellr@verizon.net

781-461-1571

 

Amy Cook, Co-Chair Rabbinic Search Committee

amybcook@verizon.net

781-329-7484