As 2016 begins, the board, the rest of the staff and I are starting to prepare for some major transitions at Beth David.
Of course, Beth David has been immersed in change for a few years now. I know that in many ways, I am still the “new rabbi” here. It was not so long ago that you said goodbye to Rabbi Egolf and welcomed me to Beth David – although I will say that I feel so at home here that it is hard for me to believe it has been less than three years!
The rabbinic transition was followed by the first stage of our cantorial transition, when our beloved Cantor Lilia retired in June after 31 years as the voice of Beth David. Thanks to the Cantor Search Committee’s hard work, we found Cantor Jessi Roemer and Cantorial Soloist Joel Kutner to serve us on an interim basis this year, and we have been blessed by their voices and presence on the bima and in the classroom.
The second stage of our cantor search begins now, as the Cantor Search Committee resumes its work planning for the long-term musical leadership of our congregation.
As if that weren’t enough change, we are now also heading into educational transition, as our beloved educator of nearly 25 years, Susan Levey, prepares for her retirement. As Tracy shared with you last month in her email, Susan has wisely counseled us that in order for us to have a two-year window to find the right person to serve as her successor, we should begin searching this year, with the possibility that Susan will retire as early as this summer, and as late as next summer.
At their December meeting, the Board of Trustees decided to follow Susan’s suggestion, and in the next few weeks, we will be appointing the Educator Search Committee. Because some of the people who are trained in Jewish education are also rabbis, our search will likely include some candidates who would serve as a second rabbi to the congregation in addition to their role as Educator.
As difficult as it was to imagine Beth David without Cantor Lilia on the bima, it is even more difficult to imagine Beth David without either Cantor Lilia on the bima OR Susan’s loving leadership of our Religious School. Please know that the Board, the rest of the staff and I are acutely aware of what a major transition their two retirements represent. Just as Susan and Cantor Lilia cared for this congregation through so many ups and downs, so are we committed to making sure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible, that Susan is fully honored, and that the best of the Beth David spirit not get lost amid all this change. At the same time, all of this change represents a potentially once-in-a-generation opportunity to dream big about the vision for Beth David’s future, and the kind of Jewish life we want to create for ourselves and our children. We will not be taking these decisions lightly.
If you have questions or concerns about all of this transition work, please reach out. I am grateful that our immediate past-president, Susan Anderer and the co-chair of the rabbinic search committee, Susan Cohen-Dickler have agreed to oversee the senior staff transition, and to coordinate communication between the two search committees. Please feel free to reach out to them, to me, or to Tracy, with any overall questions or concerns. If you have specific comments about Cantor Search, you can reach out to the co-chairs of the Cantor Search Committee, Judy Grinspan and Barry Siegel. For specific comments about Educator Search, you can contact the newly appointed co-chairs of the Education Search Committee, Rachel Mauceri, and Jason Newman.
With gratitude for this opportunity to lead this congregation l’dor va-dor, from one generation to the next –
Rabbi Beth Kalisch