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Search for an Engagement Professional

Our community is on the threshold of not just numerical growth but spiritual growth through increased connections and relationships. To facilitate and support that growth, we are in the midst of hiring for a new position - an Engagement Professional. One of our two finalists, Rabbi Naomi Zaslow, decided to accept a position closer to family. 

During a Special Congregational Meeting on Sunday evening, March 6, community members voted in favor of the synagogue making an employment offer to our finalist Rabbi David Helfand for the position of Engagement Rabbi. The vote was 96% in favor of extending the offer.  

The Board, professional staff and Search Committee will keep the congregation updated on the process when there is new information to share. Thank you to all who led the process, participated, and contributed their voice. 

 

ABOUT RABBI DAVID HELFAND

Rabbi David Helfand is completing rabbinic ordination at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, CA, where he is also pursuing a Masters in Jewish Education. During his third year of rabbinical school in Israel, Rabbi Helfand learned at the Conservative Yeshiva. It was in the Holy Land that David met his best friend and now fiancée Rebekah. Rabbi Helfand is a diehard Kansas City sports fan. When he’s not watching the Royals or Chiefs, you can be sure to find him preparing a delicious cholent for his Shabbat guests, reading, traveling the world, or admiring perhaps one of the greatest kippah and sock collections this side of the Mississippi. Rabbi Helfand is a master community builder, a passionate experiential educator, and gifted storyteller. Be prepared to learn, laugh and deepen your love for Judaism. 

 

View his cover letter and resume

View his Presentation & Q&A


 

BACKGROUND ON THE PROCESS:

The Strategic Plan that the Shearith Israel community adopted urged us to ‘consider hiring a program coordinator to lead engagement across Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Hasadim.’  The Hineini campaign was conceived as a strategy to achieve this objective until we could make this hire.

With a growing membership and a small staff, the initial outreach that was part of the Hineni campaign revealed that deep engagement - meeting congregants one-on-one to understand their needs and then develop resonant and relevant programming - is important. It also made clear how time consuming the process is including outreach, scheduling, follow-up and the necessary recording of what was learned.

We now find ourselves in a position to make this recommendation a reality due to the congregation’s conservative approach to fiscal management over the last five years, a generous bequest from the Besser estate and a new grant awarded due to our Board member participation in the Legacy Heritage OnBoard program. 

Following Board discussion, the budget for the position was approved and Board president Heidi Einhornappointed to create a search committee. The Board further voted to include the ability for the search committee to include Rabbis in the search. According to rules of the Rabbinical Assembly and Shearith Israel Bylaws there needed to be a committee of 15 for any search that included rabbis. Hence a great, incredibly committed group of people representing CSI's demographics was formed.

WHO IS SERVING ON THE SEARCH COMMITTEE?

The search committee includes Sara and Marshall Duke (co-chairs) Heidi Einhorn (Board president) alongside staff Rabbi Ari Kaiman and Executive Director Jodi Salomon. Other Search Committee members are: Tina Arbes, Jonathan Crane, Esther Graff-Radford, Eric Heller, Andy Lorber, Sarah Popowski, Navit Robkin, Judy Sherman, Eric Singer, Howie Slomka, Jenn Siegler, and Ken Zeff.

WHAT WAS THE SEARCH COMMITTEE’S PROCESS?

The Search Committee placed ads and conducted outreach. Upon receipt of 12 viable candidate applications, the committee held first round interviews with eight, five of whom were rabbis and three lay professionals. 

Following the entire committee’s attendance at hour-long interviews the list was whittled to four, three of whom are Rabbis and one a lay professional. 

CAN YOU PLEASE SAY MORE ABOUT WHY THE FINALISTS ENDED UP BEING RABBIS? 

The Search Committee, through the extensive amount of time spent interviewing candidates, has come to believe that the breadth of knowledge and depth of varied training required of a Rabbi will allow for engagement to be more effective and provide so much more to our congregation. Our finalist possess the necessary skills to manage the engagement and process of the Hineini work. And the opportunity to have another member of our growing congregation able to support program development and teaching along with visits to the ill or homebound, reaching teenagers, and generally building relationships has the potential to make a huge difference for our community.   

Our community is on the threshold of not just numerical growth but spiritual growth through increased connections and relationships. Some have asked how we might measure the success of hiring another Rabbi. We imagine success could look like more members – but also more involvement and meaningful engagement from all of our members. Our hope is that Shearith Israel will be a "home" in the fullest sense to all where we grow individually and collectively.

Sun, May 22 2022 21 Iyyar 5782