Beth Jacob Synagogue


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Rabbi Selsberg's letter to the community

December 31, 2014

Hevre:

Last spring, we began a conversation about the the effects of having a son with special needs was having on my career and family. We continued that conversation this fall, over the High Holidays. This winter, after much thought and debate, Karen and I have decided that it is necessary to look for an environment that may be closer to family, with different educational resources. As a result, we will be leaving Hamilton this summer.

This decision carries no small amount of anguish and worry. Karen and I have truly enjoyed our time here at Beth Jacob, and know that the warm embrace this community has offered us since our arrival in 2006 is as sincere as it is unique. We have enjoyed excellent relationships with the board, the congregation, and with the community, and it is hard to go. We are appreciative of the efforts of the many excellent educators who work with Aitan, however, we think that we can best provide for him in a different setting.

I have benefitted greatly from my time here, and many of you have let me know that the feeling is mutual. I know that I will leave the shul in good hands, with a strong leadership, and ready to continue the mission of over 125 years: providing a welcoming, heimishe home for traditional Judaism in Hamilton.

I'm sure there will be inconveniences along the way, but there shouldn't be significant disruptions in the services the shul provides during this time- our staff and the members of our kahal are capable of guiding us through this. Our endlessly impressive president, Cindy Richter, will send a note out shortly updating you on the search process. Please know that there are many people working to ensure that this important process is handled with the seriousness and kedusha, holiness, it merits.

This week, when we open the Torah, the narrative begins its transition from being the story of a family, the children of Israel, to the story of a people. That people, our people, for thousands of years, has seen itself as something of an extended family: the children of Israel, the house of Jacob. It has been my privilege and honour to get to know a particularly warm branch of the family, the house of Jacob, Beth Jacob, for the past nine years. All families have their ups and downs and difficult transitions, but I'm sure ours will successfully build on the blessings we've received these many years.

L'shalom,

Rabbi Dan Selsberg

 

President, Cindy Richter's letter to the Beth Jacob community

December 31, 2014

Hevre,

Throughout this year, the possibility of a change in our rabbinic leadership has gently touched the conscience of our congregation: Rabbi Dan began a conversation in which he articulated both his commitment to us and more fundamentally, to the needs of his family. In response and in distinctive Beth Jacob fashion, our support and respect for Rabbi Dan, Karen and their family only grew stronger. But difficult decisions had to be made and eventually the way forward became clear. For reasons he has clearly and compassionately laid out, his tenure with our congregation will soon end.

I can assure all Beth Jacob congregants that the rabbi remains available until the end of June and that the shul will continue functioning as usual while we conduct a search for a religious leader who resonates with our congregation's values both in style and substance.

The preliminary search committee has been formed. As a group, they represent the diversity in our demographic make-up, but the process of a rabbinic search will inevitably include input from many people. This is an intentionally self-reflective process which, individually and collectively, will further strengthen our community. Regular updates will be forthcoming with opportunities for all to share.

In hiring Rabbi Dan nine years ago, we dared to dream big. We envisioned a future for ourselves some thought would not be possible. Rabbi Dan sparked a kind of renaissance at Beth Jacob â€" he reminded us of what we had been and what we could be again: a welcoming, vibrant and traditional Jewish community. We will remain ever grateful for his leadership, his love for our community and the gift of his lovely family. And we have every intention of continuing to dream big.

There is a Hasidic saying, "In everyone there is something precious, found in no one else; so honour each man for what is hidden within him â€" for what he alone has, and none of his fellows." May the strength of our community and the insight from our traditions continue to light our future ways.

L'Shalom,

Cindy Richter

Search Committee Members

Chair: Elissa Press
Vice Chair: Michael Sherman
Members:
Dan Levy
David Ludwin,
Matthew Ogus
Philip Price,
Cindy Richter
Rina Rodak
Milena Romalis,
Anne Sanderson
Hanna Schayer
Wendy Schneider

A message from the search committee

January 16, 2015

The Preliminary Search Committee has just about completed the questionnaire that will be used as our job posting at the USCJ. Again, we want to thank those of you who filled out the community survey. Your answers, along with information gathered from the board, committee meetings and consultations, were used to inform our responses to the questionnaire.

During this past week we consulted with and gathered input from Rabbi and Karen Selsberg, and Cantor Eyal and will be continuing our consultation process with our past presidents and education director. We will also be connecting with other congregations and their recent search committees for their insights.

A major milestone will be the submission of our questionnaire to the Joint Placement Commission at the beginning of next week, after which we anticipate receiving resumes from interested rabbinical candidates.

Anticipated timelines:
End of January to March – receipt and review of resumes and first interview of potential candidates
February – visit to New York to conduct interviews for graduates from the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies
February, March - Skype interviews of narrowed list of candidates
February, March, April – Applicant visits

We will continue to update you on our progress. In the meantime, you can always contact us via email at: search@bethjacobsynagogue.ca. We encourage you to share your thoughts and insights!

 

January 30, 2015

We are also delighted to inform you that the preliminary committee has now transitioned into the search committee. The group formed has a great deal of experience and expertise in everything from human resources to negotiations, evaluation, and Jewish education. The committee elected chair is Elissa Press and the vice-chair is Michael Sherman. Other members of the search committee include: Dan Levy, David Ludwin, Matthew Ogus, Philip Price, Cindy Richter, Rina Rodak, Milena Romalis, Anne Sanderson, Hanna Schayer and Wendy Schneider. While we represent different demographics and a wide range of views, we are all committed to Beth Jacob and to finding a Rabbi that will be the best fit for our community.

Our rabbi search application has now been posted with the USCJ and we've already received a couple of resumes! Please feel free to approach any one of us with questions or concerns and/or to submit inquiries and comments to search@bethjacobsynagogue.ca. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing our progress!

 

February 5, 2015

We are thrilled to share with you the news that interviews for candidates who have applied to Beth Jacob thus far will be taking place this upcoming week. Members from our committee will be traveling to New York while other members from our committee will begin telephone interviews with potential candidates. To date, four candidates will be interviewed.

Here's a brief review of the process:
a) Rabbis who are interested in our job posting have sent and will continue to send their resumes to the Search Committee
b) All Rabbis who submit a resume will receive a phone interview (unless they are just about to graduate from the Jewish Theological Seminary or the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in which case the interview will be done in person in New York)
c) The phone interview is a brief interview that provides an opportunity for search committee members to connect with the candidate and to rule out any potential candidates who would not fit into the culture and values of Beth Jacob.
d) Appropriate candidates will be invited for a second, longer Skype interview.
e) Applicant visits will take place for candidates who appear to be the best fit for our synagogue.

We are all involved in this search. Your thoughts matter to us, so please if you have any comments, advice, concerns or questions feel free to approach any one of us and/or to submit inquiries and comments to search@bethjacobsynagogue.ca

We look forward to hearing from you and sharing our progress!