Rabbi Jose said: Dispose yourself to learn Torah, for it is not an inheritance, and let your actions be for the sake of Heaven.  (Pirke Avot 2:12)

Just because your parents were scholars or that you once learned Torah does not exempt yourself from exerting yourself to learn more of the deep values of God. Also, we make a choice to act in accordance with a higher authority as opposed to our own standards, which give our deeds higher value.

 Members of Taskforce: Rabbi Thomas Louchheim (Or Chadash), Rabbi Batsheva Appel (Temple Emanu-El), Emily Joseph (Secretary of the Board, Or Chadash), Scott Arden (President, Temple Emanu-El), and Joe Millstone (member of both congregations)

Process

  • Consulted with:
    • The CCAR Director of Rabbinic Placement the URJ Director of Consulting and Transition Management and three rabbis of merged or merging congregations in New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois
  • Three meetings: September 17, October 29, and December 3
  • Reviewed clergy job descriptions from Temple Emanu-El and Or Chadash
  • Reviewed Rabbi Louchheim’s 2019 Self-Evaluation
  • Discussed different models of clergy leadership

Future integrated congregation looks like:

  1. 700 families
  2. Two rabbis – an interim rabbi[1] and Rabbi Louchheim
  3. Full time Cantor and Cantorial Soloist

 Clergy Model considerations

  1. Bringing together clergy from somewhat different congregations:
    1. Ability to more effectively serve the integrated congregation.
    2. A larger clergy staff can work together to discover innovative ways to serve both the congregational community and the larger community.
  1. Three clergy models:
    1. Traditional: Hierarchical arrangement of senior and junior/assistant/associate rabbi. Division of responsibilities is worked out by the clergy.
    2. Partnership: A new model around the country – two rabbis within a merged congregation work in equal partnership (Baltimore and Illinois – see references below). Not hierarchical where there is a single “senior” rabbi in charge of clergy.
    3. Co-rabbis: A strict division of responsibilities, not sharing – ie, one rabbi is responsible for all pastoral care while the other is completely responsible for adult education. This doesn’t necessarily negate a senior/associate relationship. In the anecdotal conversations with the CCAR Director of Placement and one of the rabbis in the Illinois congregation, this might not meet the needs of our congregational members.
  1. Both Cantor Janece Cohen and Cantorial Soloist Marjorie Hochberg have been involved with pastoral and teaching roles in their congregations in addition to their specifically cantorial responsibilities.
  2. The clergy, in consultation with the Ritual committees, will work to accommodate a diversity of worship experiences.
  3. An advantage of multiple clergy is:
    1. Parallel services, which may meet the desires of some members.
    2. A member of the clergy might be able to engage members outside of the synagogue on Shabbat by having Shabbat in members’ homes or a Shabbat experience with college students.

 Describe risks and possible mitigations

  1. Compensation for clergy is usually proportionate to the congregation size – this should be considered in the financial calculations.
  2. Lifecycle event being officiated by an unfamiliar member of the clergy, may cause negative reactions from members (this has not been the case so far in Illinois).
  3. Unsuccessful division of roles and responsibilities
    1. could be conflict among clergy, or
    2. not serving the congregants well
  4. Multiple parallel services on Shabbat may dilute the Shabbat experience for everyone and make integration more difficult.
    1. An alternative used in Illinois is to vary services within the month.

Recommendation

The Taskforce recommends the establishment of a clergy integration committee to continuously evaluate the success of division of responsibilities and how the clergy are working together and with the congregants. The current recommendation of clergy model is Partnership.

It has been recommended by the CCAR that Rabbi Louchheim take the Intentional Interim Rabbi workshop being held in Phoenix, January 13-16, 2020 (description of interim rabbi is found in footnote 1, above). This workshop will give him tools to serve as a rabbi of a large congregation.

Yehoshua ben Perachyah said: Make for yourself a rabbi; acquire for yourself a friend; and judge every person on the positive side. (Avot 1:6)

The key to human thriving is discovered in seeking opportunities where one can develop personally, professionally and spiritually. A rabbi can be the Jewish role model for others to strengthen social ties and navigate through times of significant transitions. This quest to find new meaning in an unsettled world and to grow as individuals are nurtured through relationships that develop between teacher, student, peers, and new friends. As the individual grows the whole Jewish community flourishes.

Rabbi Thomas Louchheim


[1] An interim rabbi who helps a congregation successfully navigate a transition period. Their focus is on Heritage (reviewing how the congregation was shaped and formed), Leadership (reviewing members’ needs and its ways of developing and organizing new and effective leadership), Mission (defining and redefining the congregation’s sense of mission and direction), Connections (discovering relationships a congregation has outside of its community), and Future (develops congregational and pastoral profiles).