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Search Committee

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Shmuel: Efficiency means streamlining, and that means we can’t involve everyone.

Moshe: Haven’t I earned the right to have my voice heard?

 

Shmuel

Honestly, Rabbi Weiss couldn’t have picked a worse time to make aliyah. Although any shul president could tell you that there’s never a good time to have the rav move away.

Not that he hadn’t given us fair warning. He’d told the board at least a year ago that he’d been with us for over 30 years, most of his children lived in Eretz Yisrael, and he was strongly considering acting on his dream to retire there. So we saw it coming, but you know how it goes. Time crept along, we’d made an effort at finding a new rav, but the most promising candidate had fallen through at the last minute. Too soon a year had gone by, the shul was busy with a seudas preidah and arranging the gift, and before we blinked, it seemed, the Rav was somewhere across the Atlantic and there we were, with a jarringly empty seat at the mizrach wall.

“We’ve got to get serious about this, gentlemen,” I said, opening the board meeting without the usual round of banter. “We’ve had a few résumés submitted but no one who really meets our specific needs. And the shul needs a rav.”

Everyone nodded agreeably except for Benny Cohn, who was scrolling through something on his phone.

“The question is, where to go from here? Keep receiving résumés? Do we advertise? Do we form a search committee and start making calls? Any thoughts?”

Benny put his phone down. “Search committee.”

I nodded; I was thinking the same way myself.

“Do you know what the problem is?” Ezra Lowy said, looking over his glasses and sighing. “It’s just the five of us again, and we each have more than enough to deal with. Searching takes time. It takes phone calls and research and lots of dead ends. I think we need a bigger team.”

He was right.

We spent a few minutes nominating various kehillah members to join the search committee, working out who would approach each one, and adjourned the meeting. Time enough to begin the campaign when we had more manpower.

At the next meeting, we were a bigger group — and there was new energy in the air.

“So, gentlemen,” I launched right in. “We’ve formed this new committee to find a new rav. We need all hands on deck here, making calls and putting out feelers in various communities, investigating potential applicants, researching, and interviewing potential candidates, inviting finalists in for probas, and eventually, hire a new rav to fill the position.”

Heads nodded. There was a seriousness here — the new recruits were clearly aware of the big responsibility — but also a positive, can-do vibe. Hershy Taub threw out a suggestion, a plan for the search process and timeline, and there was a smattering of responses. Benny started taking notes on his phone.

We ended the meeting a productive two hours later. Some promising names had come up; a couple of the guys offered to do some investigating. Benny wanted to convert his rough notes to a thought-out document and e-mail it to all of us.

“Great going, gentlemen. Let’s meet, same time next week, and have an update.”

“How was the meeting?” Shiri asked curiously that evening.

“Yeah, great, much better.” I filled her in. “Hopefully, we’ll have hired someone for the position by, say, Pesach at the latest.”

“I hope so,” she said. “It’s a big job, finding a rav.”

I agreed, but I was optimistic.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 756)

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