It is a great honor to have been asked to Chair the Rabbinic Transition Steering Committee and I want to take a few minutes to tell you about the process ahead.
Over the 150 year + history of HBT we have benefitted from the leadership and guidance of many senior rabbis, 12 in the last 100 years.
Each change in rabbinic leadership has been, to one degree or another, wrenching no matter what the circumstances. In each case, we have said goodbye to dedicated rabbis who have served the Congregation for many years and then had to think about our future and what sort of rabbinic leadership is needed to take the Congregation forward again.
Recognizing the challenge that such transitions entail, the Union For Reform Judaism recommends that congregations engage in a process which the URJ has found to be useful in these circumstances and HBT has embraced this process.
The transition process entails four elements:
- search; and
- integration (of the new rabbinic leadership).
Committees, guided by a Steering Committee (which reports to the Board), are created to take responsibility for each element in the process.
This tried and true process is really quite sensible recognizing that “healing” -addressing our feelings about a departing rabbi- is often an essential first step.
We must also engage in “self-discovery” to help us know who we are and where we want to be as a congregation. This effort is critical to developing a shared vision of which will be central to shaping the search for a new rabbinic leader.
There is obviously the critical “search” stage itself. While we don’t delay efforts in that direction, the URJ’s process wisely recognizes that you don’t immediately start there.
And down the road of course, we have to be sure to be attentive to the challenge of integrating new rabbinic leadership into our congregational life and congregational family.
Assisted by Owen Duckman, who will serve as my Vice Chair and consulting with senior Temple staff and clergy, lay leaders and Board members, we have been hard at work identifying appropriate leadership and participants for each of the committees described above.
Temple is blessed with an engaged and capable membership and many members have already indicated an interest in being involved in one aspect or other of the work ahead.
As you will understand, we cannot accommodate everyone in the formal committee structure, but we are endeavoring to ensure that all committees are representative of the demographics of HBT and the diversity of our membership. I hope that when committee names are announced you will agree that this has been accomplished.
The activities which will be developed by each committee will also provide numerous opportunities for the broad involvement of congregants.
Once the new Board is in place and confirms the Rabbinic Transition Process, we will quickly announce the names of those in leadership roles and work with them to populate the various committees and soon after you should expect the roll out of a range of activities related to all elements of the transition process.
We will have a transition page within the HBT website where you will be able to find information about the transition process and the activities being undertaken. You should also feel free to contact me or Owen with questions and comments although I beg of you to remember that we have day jobs and are very sensitive so go easy on us!
In closing, let me just say this: An essential criteria for involvement in this transition process is a belief in, and excitement about, our future.
I have taken some time in recent weeks to reacquaint myself with our history which has given me much to think about.
HBT has a distinguished past. While our everyday lives and our daily concerns have us very much situated and engaged in HBT’s present, we are required now to step outside ourselves and away from the distractions of our present concerns and think about the future of our Congregation. We have a significant responsibility for that future which is situated in the arc of evolution of this great Congregation which preceded us and will carry on when we are long gone.
This is an exciting, but very humbling task. In this task I need your help.
Some potential questions that could come from HBT members at the GM:
- What exactly is the proposed timing for a new Senior Rabbi to join us? Why are we waiting so long?
- Can you share the names of the various Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Committees – if not, why not?
- What happens if the new Board doesn’t reaffirm the Rabbinic Transition Process?
- Is the Rabbinic Transition Process set in stone – can it be changed?
- Has a senior Rabbi already been selected? (A number of congregants have already told me they have heard we’ve selected a new Rabbi!)
- Do we have enough money to pay for a new Rabbi? Where will the money come from?
- What role will Rabbi Moscowitz play in the Rabbinic Transition Process?
- Who do I speak to if I want to get involved in the Rabbinic Transition Process?