Rabbinic Search Update May 3, 2019

Dear Congregants,

We are extremely pleased to announce that Rabbi Nitzan Stein Kokin has accepted the position of Senior Rabbi at Beth El Congregation.

Please mark your calendars for the week of August 5, which will be her official start date.

Rabbi Stein Kokin will begin her work as Beth El’s Rabbi and spiritual leader that week, culminating with our celebration of Shabbat with her on the bima on August 9.

Between now and then, we have much to do to make for a productive transition for Rabbi Stein Kokin to join the Beth El community, as well as the wider Jewish and secular community in which we live.

To build on the Search Committee’s success, a new congregational committee will spearhead the effort to plan for “inreach” to the congregation and outreach to the community as a whole.  We understand that we will accomplish our goals by working together, much like we did on the congregation’s efforts to find our new rabbi.  Your ideas, energy and enthusiasm are wanted and needed.

Please contact Kim Mertens (kmertens@bethelphoenix.com) or Linda Barzilai (Lbarzilai@bethelphoenix.com) to let them know your ideas, suggestions, and if you would like to participate in the planning and execution of our work to welcome Rabbi Stein Kokin and to help introduce her to Phoenix!

This is the Search Committee’s final message.  The congregation has succeeded because we have committed to the mission of helping its members find joy and become better people through Torah and the traditions of the Jewish people.  The committee’s purpose has been to advance Beth El’s goal to foster individual and collective spiritual and intellectual growth in a warm atmosphere of friendship and community.  On behalf of the entire committee, thank you for your enthusiasm, engagement and yes, your criticism, all of which kept us focused and on point.

While the work of the Search Committee is done, new responsibilities now must be answered. And together, we will make that happen, in partnership with our new leader, Rabbi Stein Kokin, who sends us the attached message. Click Here

Shabbat Shalom.

Ben Cooper and Greg Harris

Rabbinic Search Update March 1, 2019

Dear Fellow Congregant,

This is a good time to give you an update on Beth El’s search for a new rabbi and the work of our synagogue’s Rabbinic Search Committee. 

Where We Are

Over Shabbat on February 22, we hosted Rabbi Nitzan Stein Kokin, the fourth rabbi we all have had the opportunity to meet in our congregation’s search.  The congregation, including the Committee and the Board of Directors, continues to devote its energy and enthusiasm in support of this effort.  Thanks to the communication that flows from and between Beth El’s members, we have been able to be open, candid, and transparent about the process. We have solicited your comments and questions, and you have responded in person or in writing about the process and the candidates. 

Please keep your comments and questions coming, as this will enable the Board to make an informed decision about the rabbinical candidates.

Search Criteria

Many congregants have asked us how the Board will choose a rabbi.  Based on the input provided in the town hall meetings held last spring and the feedback since the process of inviting interim and permanent candidates began, the Board established a rubric by which to evaluate the candidates.  The rubric is straightforward and consists of four basic criteria:

Social Skills        Commitment to meaningfully engage the congregation and community

Leadership         Ability to inspire and be a catalyst for us to achieve our goals

In-reach             Willingness to engage and energize the entire membership

Outreach           Desire to embrace Beth El’s role in the local Jewish and secular communities

Each of these criteria has beneath it a list of illustrative abilities, interests, and characteristics that we look for in candidates. Each candidate offers a different range of skill and strengths. The rubric will empower us to compare candidates fairly and consistently based on the attributes that the Board and Committee have found to be most important. The Committee will make a recommendation to the Board, and the Board will make the ultimate decision on retaining a new rabbi. The Board’s Personnel Committee will then negotiate the contract, subject to the Board’s approval.

Our Search So Far

We have now brought to the congregation four candidates, including Rabbis Ben Herman, Scott Hoffman, Nate Crane, and, last weekend, Nitzan Stein Kokin. We had invited an additional rabbi to visit with us in March, but that candidate has since withdrawn her application from consideration.  

All of the candidates with whom we have spoken remain available for consideration except one.  Before we could present a formal offer to Rabbi Crane, he informed us that he received an offer from the synagogue that he visited the week after her visited us, and that he had accepted that synagogue’s offer. We wish Rabbi Crane well.

Next Steps

We believe that the remaining three candidates offer our congregational family exciting opportunities for a joyous and spiritually enriching future. The effort to choose a rabbi will continue to be a congregational endeavor, and we continue to ask for your input. Congregants, staff, and lay leaders have been able to meet and observe our candidates in a wide variety of settings, and your comments have helped us put together a more-complete picture of these very talented rabbis. We encourage you to talk to members of the Rabbinic Committee or email us at RabbiSearch@bethelphoenix.com. You may also call any member of the Committee or write to us individually.  

Kol tuv,

Ben Cooper                                                                             Greg Harris

bcooper@bethelphoenix.com                                                  palmlane1@msn.com

602-909-1566                                                                           602-741-7897

Co-Chairs, Rabbinic Search Committee

Rabbi Search Update February 19, 2019

Dear Fellow Congregants:

 

Since our report earlier this month, the Rabbinic Search Committee continues its efforts to find Beth El’s new Rabbi. As always, we believe this will keep our congregational family moving toward a successful and rewarding future, in an atmosphere of friendship and spiritual growth.

 

We are pleased to let you know that our next candidate, Rabbi Nitzan Stein Kokin, will visit Beth El for Shabbat Ki Tisa, during the weekend of February 22 to February 25.During her visit, Rabbi Stein Kokin will visit Beth El’s preschool, conduct services, address the congregation, lead Torah study, and be available to answer your questions and share your concerns and hopes for Beth El’s future.

 

The opportunities for community interaction with Rabbi Stein Kokin will be as follows, and please take this opportunity to RSVP by contacting the office or visiting www.bethelphoenix.com:

 

Friday, February 22 at 5:45 pm | Mincha, Kabbalat Shabbat, Ma’ariv, and Shabbat dinner with Q&A

Saturday, February 23 at 9:30 am | Shabbat Morning Services followed by Kiddush luncheon with Q&A

Saturday, February 23 at 5:30 pm | Shabbat Mincha, Ma’ariv, Se’udah Shlishit, and Torah Study

Sunday, February 24 at 8:15 am | Community Daily Minyan

Sunday, February 24 at 9:15 am | Talmud Torah Student Minyan, Talmud Torah families meet’n’greet, and Music

 

We continue to receive new applications.  As this occurs, we will hold additional committee interviews to determine the need to schedule future congregational weekends with the candidates.

 

As the committee has shared in earlier communications, we need to know your thoughts and concerns about the characteristics, skills, and interests that you would like to see in our next Rabbi, as they are central to the Committee’s success. We invite you to give us your feedback about how we are doing and, again, heartily encourage you to attend and participate in our interview weekends.

 

If you have comments or questions, please contact the committee at RabbiSearch@bethelphoenix.com. Please visit Rabbi Stein Kokin’s homepage on our website for more information.

 

Sincerely, 

Ben Cooper and Greg Harris

Rabbinic Search Committee Co-Chairs

Rabbi Search Update January 22, 2019

Dear Fellow Congregants:

 

Since our report earlier this month, the Rabbinic Search Committee continues its efforts to find Beth El’s new Rabbi. As always, we believe this will keep our congregational family moving toward a successful and rewarding future, in an atmosphere of friendship and spiritual growth.

 

We were fortunate to be visited by Rabbi Scott Hoffman during Shabbat B’Shallah. Please be sure to contact us or any member of the committee with your feedback about Rabbi Hoffman.

 

We are pleased to let you know that our next candidate, Rabbi Nate Crane, will visit Beth El for Shabbat Mishpatim, and Torah Fund Shabbat, during the weekend of February 1 to February 3. Rabbi Crane is currently the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Or Tzion in Scottsdale. As before, this visit will provide a weekend full of opportunities for you to meet and interact with Rabbi Crane.  During his visit, Rabbi Crane will visit Beth El’s preschool, conduct services, address the congregation, lead Torah study, and be available to answer your questions and share your concerns and hopes for Beth El’s future.

 

The opportunities for community interaction with Rabbi Crane will be as follows:

 

Friday, February 1 at 5:45pm | Mincha, Kabbalat Shabbat, Ma’ariv, and Shabbat dinner with Q&A

Saturday, February 2 at 9:30am | Shabbat Morning Services followed by Kiddush luncheon with Q&A

Saturday, February 2 at 5:15pm | Shabbat Mincha, Ma’ariv, Se’udah Shlishit, and Torah Study

Sunday, February 3 at 8:15am | Community Daily Minyan

Sunday, February 3 at 9:45am | World Wide Wrap

 

We expect to continue to receive new applications. As this occurs, we will hold additional committee interviews to determine the need to schedule future congregational weekends with the candidates.

 

As the committee has shared in earlier communications, we need to know your thoughts and concerns about the characteristics, skills, and interests that you would like to see in our next Rabbi, as they are central to the Committee’s success. We invite you to give us your feedback about how we are doing and, again, heartily encourage you to attend and participate in our interview weekends.

 

If you have comments or questions, please contact the committee at RabbiSearch@bethelphoenix.com.

Rabbi Search Update January 10, 2018

Dear Fellow Congregants:

 

Since our report in November, the Rabbinic Search Committee has been busy in its efforts to find Beth El’s new Rabbi. We are continuously committed to embracing this task and keeping Beth El on the path forward toward a successful and rewarding future for our entire congregational family. Together, we will continue to foster an atmosphere of friendship and spiritual growth in support of our longstanding Jewish community.

 

We are continuing to receive applications and have discussed them at great length. We moved forward with one application and had a productive video conference call. The committee agreed that this applicant would be a great candidate for our Senior Rabbi and invited them to visit the congregation for a Shabbat weekend.

 

Third, we are pleased to notify you, the congregation that Rabbi Scott Hoffman will be visiting Beth El on the weekend of January 19. This will be a jam-packed weekend full of opportunities for interaction. Rabbi Hoffman, like previous candidates, will lead services, address the congregation and lead torah study, and be available for the congregations for questions, concerns and hopes for Beth El’s future.

 

The opportunities for community interaction with Rabbi Hoffman will be as follows:

 

Wednesday, January 16 at 6:15pm | Mincha followed by “Pizza & Parsha” with Talmud Torah kids, families, and preschool families.

Friday, January 18 at 5:45pm | Mincha, Kabbalat Shabbat, Ma’ariv and Shabbat dinner

Saturday, January 19 at 9:30am | Shabbat Morning Services followed by Kiddush luncheon

Saturday, January 19 at 4:30pm | Shabbat Mincha, Ma’ariv, Se’udah Shlishit, and Torah Study

Sunday, January 20 at 8:15am | Community Daily Minyan

 

As the committee has shared in earlier communications, we need to know your thoughts and concerns about the characteristics, skills, and interests that you would like to see in our next Rabbi, as they are central to the Committee’s success.  We invite you to give us your feedback about how we are doing and, again, heartily encourage you to attend and participate in our interview weekends.

 

If you have comments or questions, please contact the committee at RabbiSearch@bethelphoenix.com.

 

Sincerely,

Ben and Greg

 

Rabbi Search Update November 16, 2018

Dear Fellow Congregants,

Since our last report, the Rabbinic Search Committee has continued its work. We are committed to finding Beth El’s new Rabbi and keeping Beth El moving forward toward a successful and rewarding future for our entire congregational family. From our recent congregational open house and those we’ve held since last spring, we have learned that all of us seem to be looking for the same characteristics in our Rabbi: an empathetic person who can relate both individually and collectively to all of our congregants, regardless of age and circumstances, and will help educate us and move us spiritually to become better people and find joy, comfort and peace through our Jewish traditions in a continuing atmosphere of warmth and fellowship.

Today, we want to report to you on several exciting developments about our search, the upcoming visit bya rabbinic candidate, and a return visit by Rabbi Joshua Katzan. First, we have submitted and the Rabbinical Assembly has posted our revised Congregational Questionnaire, which is required by the Rabbinical Assembly for our search for our permanent Rabbi. This report includes information regarding our services and programming, demographics, history, and vision for the future,and it serves as a snapshot for candidates to learn about us.

Second, we have received several applications from rabbinical candidates and discussed them at great length. So far, we moved forward with one application and had a productive video conference call with the candidate, Rabbi Ben Herman, whom the committee agreed was an excellent prospect. Rabbi Herman is currently the senior rabbi at Jericho Jewish Center on Long Island, and he was previously the Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Anshei Israel in Tucson. We are delighted to announce that we will be hosting Rabbi Herman at Beth El over the weekend of November 29 – December 2. This will be a busy weekend, filled with many opportunities for you to meet Rabbi Herman. Hewill lead services, address the congregation and conduct Torah study, and be available to answer your questions, respond to your concerns, and exchange visions with us for for Beth El’s future.

The opportunities for community interaction with Rabbi Herman will be as follows (click on event to RSVP):

Third, we are planning for Rabbi Katzan’s return visit to Beth El on Shabbat from December 14-16.  During his visit, we will be arranging for a series of programs to lead us in Jewish celebration and learning.

As the committee has shared in earlier communications, we need to know your thoughts and concerns about the characteristics, skills, and interests that you would like to see in our next Rabbi, as they are central to our success.  We invite you to give us your feedback about how we are doing and, again, heartily encourage you to attend and participate in our interview weekends.

If you have comments or questions, please contact the committee at RabbiSearch@bethelphoenix.com.

Sincerely,

Ben Cooper & Greg Harris


Rabbi Search Update August 16, 2018

Dear Fellow Congregants:

The Rabbinic Search Committee is delighted to announce that Rabbi Joshua Katzan will join Beth El Congregation for the High Holidays and, together with Cantor Angress and Cantor Emeritus Goldman, to lead services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as we begin 5779.

Rabbi Katzan joins us from his regular duties as a Lecturer in Rabbinic Literature at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, part of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.  The Ziegler School is, with the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, one of the Conservative Movement’s rabbinical seminaries. Before joining the faculty of the Ziegler School, Rabbi Katzan served for eight years as the Senior Rabbi at Congregation Habonim in New York, and before that worked for five years as the associate rabbi at Congregation Hebrew Educational Alliance in Denver.  We are pleased to have the opportunity to share our holiday experience with Rabbi Katzan, who also will be with us for the Shabbat that immediately precedes Rosh Hashanah. His involvement in our celebration of the holidays should be especially sweet and rewarding as we come together as a congregation with renewed commitment and energy for a productive, healthy and happy new year.

Meanwhile, the Rabbinic Search Committee’s work continues in earnest with respect to identifying and retaining interim and permanent rabbis beyond the High Holidays. Many of you had the opportunity to meet with and learn from Rabbi William Gershon during his weekend with us in mid-July, but he has declined our offer in favor of taking an interim position near one of his children in New Jersey. We remain in active contact with the Rabbinical Assembly, which is supporting our identification of candidates. Our good fortune in having Rabbi Katzan, an experienced pulpit rabbi and educator, help lead us in prayer will provide an additional opportunity for our congregation to show its strength and unite in support of this common effort.

Please contact us at RabbiSearch@bethelphoenix.com with your comments, suggestions, and questions.

On behalf of the Rabbinic Search Committee, we wish everyone Shanah Tovah–a sweet new year!  We look forward to seeing you during the holidays, on Shabbat, at Minyan, and on other occasions at Beth El in the new year!

Sincerely,

Ben Cooper & Greg Harris

Rabbinic Search Co-Chairs


Rabbi Search Update July 20, 2018

Dear Fellow Congregants:

This past Shabbat, Beth El hosted Rabbi Bill Gershon. During his time with us, Rabbi Gershon joined us in prayer for Erev Shabbat, ate with us on Friday night, led services on Saturday, addressed the Congregation both in his d’var Torah and Q&A following Kiddush, Saturday evening which included services and a special study session, led minyan on Sunday morning, and concluded with a two-hour session with the Board and Rabbinic Search Committee. We thank those in the Congregation who accepted the offer to meet Rabbi Gershon and to share their views about his potential service as Beth El’s interim Rabbi – a position that Rabbi Gershon stressed would be a temporary position and one from which he would not seek or accept a permanent position, and instead stated that he would direct his efforts to helping Beth El find that candidate.

Following the close of the final meeting, Rabbi Gershon left the building, giving the board the chance for frank and candid dialogue about the needs of the Congregation and whether Rabbi Gershon would be a positive force in the future of the Congregation, albeit for only a brief period. Members spoke at length about what they had each seen and heard, including from their families, members of the Congregation, and from Rabbi Gershon. Based on the recommendation of the Rabbinic Search Committee, the board debated and then voted to extend Rabbi Gershon an offer for an interim position with the Congregation.

The Board acted with full knowledge of the need to secure a rabbi to serve as the Congregation’s spiritual leader, particularly with the holidays approaching. Only with the input it received over the weekend from members of the Congregation, was it possible for the Board to have the confidence to act. Whether Rabbi Gershon will accept remains to be determined. We will keep you informed of our progress. We also need the Congregation to remain actively engaged in our spiritual journey and our search for a permanent Rabbi.

We owe a special thanks to Zachary Hoffman, Alicia Moskowitz and the entire Beth El staff for making it possible for the congregation to celebrate Shabbat and to use this time to meet Rabbi Gershon.

If you have comments or questions, please contact rabbisearch@bethelphoenix.com – or speak to any member of the search committee.

Sincerely,

Ben Cooper & Greg Harris
Rabbinic Search Co-Chairs


Letter to Congregation 3/21/18

March 21, 2018

Dear Fellow Congregants,

The Rabbinical Search Committee is up and running. Please feel free to talk to any of our Committee members regarding your questions, concerns, thoughts, and hopes about the selection of Beth El Congregation’s next rabbi:

Brian Alpert

Linda Barzilai, Co-President

Barbara Becker, Membership Vice President

Ben Cooper, Co-Chair, Ritual Vice President

Greg Harris, Co-Chair, Board Member

Rebecca Karlin

Allyn Kluger

Zachary Kramer, Board Member

Daniel Rosen, Ritual Committee Member

David Segal

Gail Ulan, Board Member

Sara Ziskin

As announced in the March 17 Beth El Billboard email, Rabbi Lavinsky and Beth El have agreed that the Rabbi will conclude his professional duties at Beth El as of March 23. With this development, Beth El will work through the Rabbinical Assembly to conduct our search.

The Committee has concluded that it is in the congregation’s best interest to retain an interim rabbi to serve the congregation while we conduct our search for a permanent rabbi. We expect this process to take six months to a year. We feel that retention of an interim rabbi best promotes the congregation’s continuity and also secures us the time for the thoughtful and open selection process we all want. Beth El followed just this approach when Rabbi Moshe Tutnauer (of blessed memory) rejoined us for  year while we conducted the successful search that brought Rabbi Lavinsky to Beth El for fifteen years. Our recent experience with the selection of a new cantor showed us the benefits of a patient and thorough search to find the right person, which may take two or more rounds of applications, interviews, and negotiations. You may recall that in our first wave we invited three cantorial candidates without choosing to retain any of them. It was only by reopening the application process to new candidates that we found, to our delight, Cantor Jonathan Angress.

As part of the process of understanding your thoughts and concerns, answering your questions, and identifying the characteristics, skills, and interests that you would like to see in our next rabbi, the Committee will hold four open houses, with the last open house coinciding with the congregation’s annual meeting. We chose a variety of days and time in order to accommodate the schedules and transportation needs of as many congregants as possible:

Sunday, March 25, 9:15am        Open meeting for Talmud Torah and Preschool parents

Tuesday, April 10, 6:30 p.m.     Open meeting after Minyan

Saturday, April 14, 12:15 p.m.   Open meeting after Shabbat kiddush

Sunday, April 29, 10:00 a.m.     Open meeting after Annual Meeting

We heartily encourage you to attend and participate as we look forward to a successful search for our next Rabbi.

Cordially,

 

Ben Cooper                                         Greg Harris

Ritual Vice-President                        Member, Board of Directors

rabbisearch@bethelphoenix.com

602-909-1566                                     602-741-7897