Rabbi Search

B’nai Sholom is conducting a search for a successor to Rabbi Don Cashman, who is retiring after 35 years as our spiritual leader, teacher and guide.

Stay up-to-date on the search through the monthly Bulletin, the B’nai Sholom website and the Weekly Announcements.

Any questions about hiring the interim rabbi or the self-study process should be directed to the committee co-chairs, David Liebschutz and Ann Lowenfels.

Update on Rabbinic Search, July 2020

WELCOME RABBI DAVID KATZ

B’nai Sholom joyously welcomes Rabbi David Katz of Baltimore to lead our community as our new Interim Rabbi.  The congregation approved Rabbi Katz’s appointment at the 48th annual meeting held June 18.

Rabbi Katz was ordained in 1981 and awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College in 2006.  He has 39 years in the rabbinate, including service to seven congregations as interim rabbi.  He has authored numerous articles and is the co-editor of Reading Between the Lines: New Stories from the Bible.  He served on committees that developed Mishkan T’filah, the newest Reform Judaism prayer book, published in 2007, that is used at B’nai Sholom and in synagogues throughout North America.  Rabbi Katz also developed the “Moments” Engagement Program, a way of organizing synagogue life to assure successful attendance at every program, service and event. 

Rabbi Katz has served on the boards of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and National Association of Temple Educators and as president of New York Area Reform Rabbis.  He has garnered multiple honors, and awards from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for scholarship, community service and human relations.  Rabbi Katz also holds degrees in theatre from Northwestern University.

A native of Rochester, Rabbi Katz and his wife, Nancy, an artist, appreciate the natural beauty and resources of Upstate New York and the Capital Region.  Their daughter, Emily, is executive director of “Justice for Kurds” and founder of Hampstead Rose, a consulting firm specializing in international cross-cultural projects.  Their son, Benjamin, is a harpsichordist and composer. 

Please join us as we move forward in an exciting transitional year with Rabbi David Katz!

Update on Rabbinic Search, June 2020

Our congregation will be voting at the June 18 Annual Meeting on the selection of Rabbi David Katz to serve as Interim Rabbi for a period of one year.

Rabbi Katz was ordained in 1981 and awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College in 2006.  He has 39 years in the rabbinate, including service to seven congregations as Interim Rabbi.  He has authored numerous articles and is the co-editor of Reading Between the Lines: New Stories from the Bible.  He served on committees that developed Mishkan T’filah, the newest Reform prayer book that is used at B’nai Sholom and in congregations throughout North America.  Rabbi Katz also developed the “Moments” Engagement Program, a way of organizing synagogue life to enable successful attendance at every program, service and event. 

Rabbi Katz has served on the boards of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and National Association of Temple Educators and as president of New York Area Reform Rabbis.  He has garnered multiple awards from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for scholarship, community service and human relations.  Rabbi Katz also holds degrees in theatre from Northwestern University.

A native of Rochester, Rabbi Katz and his wife, Nancy, appreciate the natural beauty and resources of Upstate and the Capital Region. 

Update on Rabbinic Search, May 2020

As described in last month’s Update, the Search Committee identified an appropriate candidate for interim rabbi and presented a hiring recommendation to the Board of Trustees in April.  At press time, discussions with this candidate continue and we expect everything to be resolved in time to present the candidate for the congregation’s vote at the Annual Meeting.  Findings from January’s Group Conversations also are being summarized and will be presented to the entire congregation at the Annual Meeting.

Update on Rabbinic Search, April 2020

The Search Committee identified an appropriate candidate for interim rabbi in March and presented a hiring recommendation to the Board of Trustees in April.  Negotiations with this candidate are in process and will likely be resolved soon.  Meanwhile, the Search Committee continues to receive and review new applications for the position.  At the same time, findings from January’s Group Conversations are being summarized and will be presented to the entire congregation at the Annual Meeting.

Update on Rabbinic Search, March 2020

Since the February 13 congregational meeting, the Search Committee has reviewed resumes from four new applicants for the interim rabbi position and conducted preliminary interviews via Skype with two of them. One most promising candidate was invited to Albany for an in-person interview. The coronavirus derailed the planned visit, so the committee set up a series of “virtual” interviews with the candidate via Zoom.

In-depth interviews were conducted over two days in March, “attended” by members of the Search Committee, B’nai Sholom Board, Rabbi Cashman and Christine Blackman, past presidents, committee chairs, members of the Ritual and Adult Ed committees and regular participants in Torah Study. As before, an online poll was conducted afterward to gauge the level of support for the candidate.  The Search Committee reviewed the survey results and is on track to make a hiring recommendation to the Board.  If the Board approves the candidate, the Executive Committee will offer the position and negotiate a contract that will be contingent on congregational approval at the May 23 Annual Meeting.

Our timeline calls for an interim rabbi to be on-board by this July.  The committee is confident that this is still an achievable goal.  Indeed, advisers at the URJ have told members that B’nai Sholom is “exactly where we need to be” in the process.

Update on Rabbinic Search, February 2020

To date, we received, reviewed and ranked resumes and personal statements from seven candidates for interim rabbi.  Of those, we identified four as the most promising, conducted Skype interviews with them, then invited for in-person interviews the two whom we believed would most closely fill our needs during the interim period: Rabbi Scott Saulson and Rabbi Deborah Hirsch.  Their visits in December and January included separate meetings with the search committee, the board, Rabbi Cashman, Christine Blackman, adult education and ritual committee members, past presidents and committee chairs.

Both rabbis clearly possessed very positive attributes.  Unfortunately for B’nai Sholom, both withdrew their applications before we could extend any offers to them. 

Consequently, we have requested the CCAR to change the status of our search from “resumes held back” to “receiving resumes.”  The next steps will be to go over resumes that we previously received along with any new ones and follow up with appropriate candidates.  We have already scheduled a Skype interview with one promising candidate.

Our timeline calls for an interim rabbi to be on-board by this July.  The committee is confident that this is still an achievable goal.

Meanwhile, the self-study process continues.  Eighty-five congregants participated in the in-home group discussions, describing what they value most about B’nai Sholom, what they feel are the congregation’s strengths and challenges, their vision for the future, what roles they feel a settled rabbi should play and what qualities he or she should have.  Results will be summarized and shared with the search committee, the board and with congregants at the annual meeting in May.  Results will also be used to inform the development of a short questionnaire, which will be circulated in the future to ensure all topics are addressed over time.

Lastly, thank you to all who attended February’s special congregational meeting.  Your interest, your questions and your support were appreciated greatly! 

Update on Rabbinic Search, January 2020

SPECIAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING SET FOR FEBRUARY 13

B’nai Sholom will retain an interim rabbi in June 2020 to serve as a transitional bridge so that we’ll have time to explore who we are as a congregation and what qualities we want in our new permanent or ‘settled’ rabbi. So far, two candidates for the interim position have visited B’nai Sholom for in-person interviews.  During these visits, the candidates met with members of the Board and other committees and were introduced to Albany.  Afterward, an on-line poll was conducted to gauge the level of support for each candidate.

For the next steps, the Rabbinic Search Committee will recommend the top candidate to the Board of Trustees and then to the entire congregation at a special congregational meeting on Thursday, February 13, at 7pm.  Please be sure to attend.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the in-home group conversations!  The purpose of these conversations was to help us identify the qualities and skills that our new settled rabbi will need to help us realize our vision for the future.  A special thank you goes to the volunteer hosts:  Amy and Yossi Koren-Roth, Susan Aron and Joe DeFronzo, Melissa Putterman Hoffmann, Judy and Roy Fruiterman, Cheryl and Mark Reeder, Bettina and Howard Stoller, Mimi Bruce and David Ray, Susan Radosh and Steve Klein, Liz Davis, and Gail and Larry Volk.

Update on Rabbinic Search, December 2019

The Rabbinic Search Committee for our new rabbi continues to make progress toward the twin goals of 1) hiring an interim rabbi to begin in July 2020, and 2) completing a self-study in preparation for our search, which begins in September 2020, for a settled rabbi.  For the interim rabbi, two candidates will be visiting the area in late December and early January for in-person interviews.  For the self-study, the committee did a “dry run” of the Self-Study Group Conversations in early December and will conduct nearly a dozen of these all-important opportunities for the entire congregation throughout January.  Congregants have received invitations through e-mail to sign up for a preferred time and location; check your email inbox for the invite and sign up.  Committee members will phone congregants who do not have email addresses on file. We want all congregants to have their voices heard in this process!

Update on Rabbinic Search, November 2019

The search for Rabbi Cashman’s successor continues.  B’nai Sholom will hire an interim rabbi in June 2020 to serve as a transitional bridge so that we’ll have time to explore who we are as a congregation and what qualities we want in our new permanent or “settled” rabbi.  So far, the search committee has received five applications and conducted two video interviews for the interim position. The committee will conduct one more video interview and then invite the top candidates to B’nai Sholom for in-person interviews. Meanwhile, the committee is also scheduling in-home group conversations, planned for January, to help us identify the qualities and skills that our new “settled” rabbi will need to help us realize our vision for the future.  All congregants will receive an email in December inviting them to participate in one of these conversations.  The sign-up process will be conducted online; the committee will call congregants who do not have email addresses on file with B’nai Sholom.

Update on Rabbinic Search, October 2019

As of mid-October, we have received four applications for the interim position, and we may receive more applications over the next few weeks.  The application subcommittee is working on interview protocols for video and in-person interviews, which will begin in late October.

The self-study subcommittee has been refining the process for convening a series of roundtable discussions to take place this winter (January and February 2020). Volunteer hosts and notetakers have been recruited, and registration instructions for participants will be available soon. The purpose of the roundtable discussions will be to help us find out who we are, who we want to be, and what qualities and skills our new rabbi will need to help us realize our vision for the future.

Update on Rabbinic Search, September 2019

  • The search for Rabbi Cashman’s successor is proceeding smoothly and on schedule.  In fact, we are slightly ahead of where the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) expected us to be in the process.Earlier this year, the Search Committee recommended to the Board that B’nai Sholom hire an interim rabbi who can serve as a transitional bridge that would allow us the time to more fully explore who we are as a congregation and determine what we want in a new permanent or “settled” rabbi.  We completed and submitted to the CCAR the congregation’s application for an interim rabbi earlier this summer.  The CCAR has accepted our submission and has posted it to the job board, and candidates have already applied for the position.  We are reviewing those applications now.  Interviews with candidates whose skills and qualities appear to be most suited to our needs will begin shortly after the High Holy Days, first by phone and/or Skype and then in-person with the most promising candidates.
  • The B’nai Sholom Rabbinic Search Committee is organizing a series of roundtable discussions to take place this winter, January 1 – February 15, 2020.

Volunteers are needed to host a group conversation in your home or at B’nai Sholom.

All you need to do:

Choose a date to host between January 1 – February 15, 2020

Select a location: your home or B’nai Sholom

Pick a 2-hour time slot to open your home; conversations are expected to take 60-90 minutes

Tell us how many individuals you wish to host

Provide light refreshments and greet guests

Facilitators and note-takers will be in attendance to conduct and record the discussion.

Volunteers are needed to be note-takers during group conversations.

All you need to do:

Bring a laptop or notepad to record conversation

Take careful notes, capturing the discussion

Coordinate with other note-takers to combine notes

Provide electronic submission of finalized notes

Training and sample format will be provided for note-takers.

Please contact Ann Lowenfels (alowenfe@gmail.com) or David Liebschutz (dliebschutz@gmail.com) to express your interest in volunteering.

Update on Rabbinic Search, August 2019

B’nai Sholom’s Rabbinic Search Committee has drafted an application for the Interim Rabbi. The application will be reviewed by the Board of Trustees before it is submitted to Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) in August. See last months bulletin for more information about the search process

Update on Rabbinic Search, July 2019

The Rabbinic Search Committee has drafted an application as part of the process to hire an Interim Rabbi.  The application will be reviewed by the Board of Trustees before it is submitted to the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) in August.  See the full timeline and additional information below.

Search Committee Report for Annual Meeting,  June 2019

The Rabbinic Search Committee’s charge is to recruit a new spiritual leader to succeed Rabbi Cashman, who is retiring in June 2020. The overall goal of the search process is to locate and get to know the Rabbi who will be the best match for our congregation. 

Committee co-chairs were appointed by B’nai Sholom’s president: David Liebschutz and Ann Lowenfels.  Eleven members were recruited through B’nai Sholom’s High Holiday Guide, Directory, and Bulletin:  Arthur Alowitz, David DiPaola, Katelyn DiPaola, Roy Fruiterman, Maxine Goldberg, Bruce Goldstein, Ben Marvin, Ann Shapiro, Carol Smith, Linda Strohl, and Phil Teumim.  Monthly meetings started in November 2018, and a Brit was signed in June 2019.

After communicating with the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and several other congregations, the search committee determined that the best strategy for B’nai Sholom will be to hire an interim Rabbi in 2020 and a settled Rabbi in 2021:

Interim Rabbi Timeline
June-July, 2019 Fill out application for interim rabbi and submit to CCAR for feedback
September 2019 Conduct telephone or Skype interviews; select candidates to recommend inviting for in-person interview
October-November, 2019 Conduct in person interviews; decide on who to recommend as final candidate
December 2019-January 2020 Call references; possible final interview; make offer to candidate/contract negotiations
July 2020 Interim Rabbi starts
Self Study Timeline
January – February 2020 In-home group conversations to find out who we are, who we want to be, and what qualities and skills our new rabbi will need to help us realize our vision for the future
March – April 2020 On-line congregational survey to help us prioritize qualities and skills needed
May-June 2020 Summarize results and present at Annual Meeting
Settled Rabbi Timeline
June-July, 2020 Fill out application for settled rabbi and submit to CCAR for feedback
September, 2020 Conduct telephone or Skype interviews; select candidates to recommend inviting for in-person interview
October- November, 2020 Conduct in person interviews; decide on who to recommend as final candidate
December 2020 – January 2021 Call references; possible final interview; make offer to candidate/contract negotiations
July 2021 Settled Rabbi starts

 

Throughout the process, the search committee will use seven outlets to keep congregants informed of search status, progress, and opportunities for input: website, bulletin, email, Facebook, Twitter, pulpit announcements and US mail.

Congregational input is needed!

  • Volunteer to host a group conversation in your home
  • Participate in a group conversation at someone else’s home
  • Arrange a one-on-one conversation with a search committee member
  • Participate in the congregational on-line survey
  • Contact Ann or David with questions or suggestions

B'nai Sholom Albany NY