This page lists the frequently asked questions that the Board of Trustees has heard from our congregants. We will continue to update it as more questions come in. Thank you for reading and participating.
1. What is an interim rabbi?
The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) has a special position called interim rabbi to serve congregations through different kinds of transitions in order to create the best opportunity for a long-term, successful rabbinate for the next senior rabbi.
Temple Israel’s interim rabbi will:
- serve for one year with the clear understanding that they will not be a candidate for our next senior rabbi
- make sure the synagogue continues to function for religious and lifecycle events
- lead us through a process of defining our goals and hopes for our next senior rabbi
- contribute to our community as a visiting scholar with ideas, insights and practices that inspire us
2. Why will Temple Israel hire an interim rabbi?
According to the CCAR, “A synagogue’s work with a trained interim rabbi allows time for thoughtful, intentional work, strengthening congregations for a healthy search process… Ultimately, the interim process enables the success of the relationship with the next settled rabbi." Temple Israel will build on the experiences of synagogues across the country where interim rabbis have helped congregations transition from one long-term rabbinate to another.
Over the past 28 years, our congregation has been led and inspired by Rabbi Aryeh Azriel. His vision, warmth and spirituality have guided us and inspired us through celebrations, tragedies, accomplishments and challenges. We have the opportunity to take some time to reflect on how we all can build on Rabbi Azriel’s contributions and envision how we want to grow as a community for the next 28 years.
Our Board of Trustees, clergy and staff all see this process as an opportunity to lead us from strength to strength.
3. How can individual members of the congregation participate in this process?
There will be multiple opportunities for every congregant to participate in this process. We need your help with serving on committees and we need your voices to contribute to our comments page online and in person at our congregational conversations. The transition committee and the board leadership will read and respond to every comment and share as much as possible with our entire congregation through these pages. You can also contact any member of the Board of Trustees directly at any time to share your input.
4. What is Rabbi Azriel doing next? What if I want him to perform a lifecycle event for my family?
Rabbi Azriel will be retiring from Temple Israel on June 30, 2016, but he is not retiring from our lives! He will retain the title Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Israel. His participation in lifecycle events at Temple Israel will be determined in discussion with Temple Israel’s clergy team.
5. Can we hire our current Associate Rabbi?
Temple Israel’s Board of Trustees is committed to a transparent and inclusive process with the highest level of integrity. When we formally post the job description, we expect to have a strong pool of qualified candidates that could include an internal candidate. An open search process with multiple candidates is in the interests of the long-term health of the congregation and for all of the prospective candidates.
6. Where can we learn more about interim rabbis?
The transition committee is happy to speak with anyone in the congregation about our process and about what we have learned from attending multiple sessions at the URJ biennial and our board retreat about the interim rabbi position. We have also been inspired by the documentation process that Temple Beth Am in Seattle undertook through their transition in 2013-2014. You can also read recent articles below from the CCAR and URJ about the value that interim rabbis can bring to congregations.
7. How have other congregations managed the rabbinic transition process?
This transition will be new much of our membership. We can learn from the experiences of synagogues that have recently gone through rabbinic transitions with processes that are transparent and inclusive. Below are links to the transition pages that several other congregations have used in recent years to document and communicate their processes.