We are delighted to be able to share with you the unanimous decision by the Search Committee and Board of Directors to offer Rabbi Hillel Lavery-Yisraeli a contract with Beth Jacob Synagogue!
The selection process was both thorough and inclusive. We considered several applicants, chose to bring in two and were impressed in different ways by both candidates who spent a Shabbat with us. While the weekend presented many opportunities for short interactions between candidates and congregants, the Search Committee was also privy to additional particulars about both candidates.
The decision to hire Rabbi Hillel was based on information obtained from our Skype interview, detailed reference and background checks (including random checks with the Rabbi's Swedish congregants), one on one interviews with selected board and professional staff members, the congregational visit, and feedback from the community.
In order to address the issues related to Rabbi Hillel's Conservative/Masorti credentials, due diligence was required resulting in us contacting the Rabbinical Assembly. They demonstrated to us that Rabbi Hillel met their stringent criteria, at least equal to that of graduates from our own educational institutions, and the Search Committee is confident that he embodies the traditionally progressive qualities that we would expect from any leader in our Movement. In fact, Rabbi Hillel is symbolic of what Conservative Judaism stands for. He is both traditional and egalitarian; rooted in Halacha and modern in its interpretation. In this respect, one of his congregants noted: "He clears his own way through the forest of Jewish denominations, always following Halacha and searching for interpretations for our time. If you choose him, and he chooses you, I think you will get a great rabbi. I will miss him."
We are incredibly appreciative of the community engagement that occurred throughout this process, and which informed our decision, and are grateful for all of the comments that we received from you. Please know that each comment was carefully reviewed. But your work doesn't end here. No leader can act alone. It is all of our responsibilities to organize ourselves and to rally behind Rabbi Hillel, his wife Yonah, and baby boy, Hisda, once they join our community in August. Our new rabbi is a new opportunity for Beth Jacob's growth and impact; a time for renewed energies and a renewal of our spiritual commitments. Rabbi Hillel has the potential to move us confidently forward and we, as a congregation, owe him the opportunity to succeed.
When the Search Committee first embarked on this process, we described in our documents how warm and welcoming our Congregation is. The response from all of you confirmed this, and we are grateful and proud to be part of this congregation. We are hopeful that this warm and welcoming ambiance will envelop Rabbi Hillel and his family and allow him to contribute meaningfully to this most important part of our spiritual journey.
Wishing you a warm and meaningful Pesach.
Chairperson, Search Committee
President, Beth Jacob Synagogue
Search Committee Members
Chair: Elissa Press
Vice Chair: Michael Sherman