Rabbi Search Information

The CEH Rabbinic Search Committee is pleased to share information relating to our 2020 rabbi search. Below are links to congregational communication on this topic and information on next steps. We will keep this page updated as our search progresses, and we welcome you to contact us at CEH2020@etzhayim.net with any questions or input.

Prospective candidates should contact United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) for further information regarding this position.

Message from Rabbi Lia Bass
Message from Synagogue President Scott Burka

News and Upcoming Events

On January 21, 2020, the Rabbinic Search Committee posted our Rabbinic Questionnaire (i.e., our job posting) with USCJ. This posting is accessible to pulpit and non-pulpit Conservative rabbis who are members of the Rabbinic Assembly and to graduating rabbinic students at the Jewish Theological Seminary (New York) and the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies (Los Angeles).

As of February 7, we have received 11 applications for the position – five students who will graduate this year from JTS or Ziegler, and six who are already rabbis. Based on initial interviews (which are continuing on a rolling basis), the Search Committee thus far has invited two candidates to meet, teach, learn, and pray with us here in Arlington. Congregants will have several opportunities to meet the candidates over the course of a weekend. This is a great opportunity to spend time with them and then provide the Rabbinic Search Committee with feedback.

Rabbi Cara Weinstein Rosenthal will be joining us at CEH the weekend of February 21st. Rabbi Cara Weinstein Rosenthal is an engagement-focused rabbi who has served in the pulpit and worked in nationwide outreach and education. She currently serves as the Family Engagement Specialist at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, where she guides congregations in creating inclusive, relationship-focused synagogue communities. Rabbi Rosenthal serves as a Rabbi in Residence at the Schechter School of Long Island, and has taught for a variety of adult-education programs, including Chai Mitzvah, J Learn, and the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning. Before coming to United Synagogue, Rabbi Rosenthal served as the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Israel in Freeport, NY.                                         CLICK HERE to read more about Rabbi Cara Weinstein Rosenthal.

Rabbi Michael Wolk will be joining us the weekend of February 28th. Rabbi Michael Wolk is a native of Long Island.  Growing up as the “Cantor’s Kid” in his shul imparted on him an early love of Jewish life that helped guide him toward the rabbinate.  Rabbi Wolk graduated from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary’s List College before attending rabbinical school at JTS.  After being ordained in 2012, he moved to Louisville to serve as the rabbi of Keneseth Israel Congregation. He was happy to learn that there were Jews in Kentucky and even developed an appreciation for Bourbon.  At Keneseth Israel, Rabbi Wolk is proud to have developed new programs like Tot Shabbat, Dinyan, Big Rock Shabbat, and Shabbat Salons. He is especially proud of the students he has taught to lead services and read Torah and of leading the synagogue’s first trip to Israel. CLICK HERE to read more about Rabbi Michael Wolk.

If you would like to see a full resume for either/both of the candidates, please email CEH2020@etzhayim.net.

The two weekends will follow this schedule:

Friday (2/21 and 2/28):

*Each candidate will visit the preschool and meet with preschool parents during preschool Kabbalat Shabbat and pickup.

*Each candidate will join us for Shabbat evening services and a potluck dinner.
Sign up for the Fri, Feb 21st and 28th potluck HERE.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Saturday (2/22 and 2/29):

*Each candidate will join us for Shabbat services at 10:00 am, where they will lead us in prayer and join us for kiddush lunch afterward.

*After kiddush, each candidate will lead a learning session.

*At 6:15 pm, each candidate will join us at CEH for a Havdalah service. This will be followed by a brief conversation about interfaith issues (all are welcome) and then an evening of board games for all ages. Food and drink will be provided. Kids are welcome for the whole evening.

Sunday (2/23 and 3/1):

*From 10:15 to 11:30, each candidate will be available to meet with Religious School parents. Bagels and coffee will be provided.

We encourage you to attend as many of these events as you can! It will help you to get familiar with the candidates and will help us put our best foot forward as a congregation. Let’s show them our CEH best!

After each visit, we will send out a short survey (via e-mail) to congregants to assess the community’s reactions to the candidate. It is vital that everyone’s voice is heard during this process, and responses to these surveys will weigh heavily on our final recommendation. You will have the option to share your feedback anonymously.

Keep an eye on this space for updated information regarding search status and in-person candidate interview visits to CEH.

Congregational Input

The Rabbinic Search Committee welcomes the entire congregation to join us on this important journey! As the search progresses, we will continue to collect and review input from you, CEH’s congregants, about who we are and which skills and experiences our community would most like to see in our next rabbi. If you have not yet done so, we encourage you to fill out this survey CLICK HERE. We encourage you to contact us with your questions or thoughts at any time at CEH2020@etzhayim.net. We know that CEH is an important community for our members, and in the process of seeking new spiritual leadership, we are seeking to determine which qualities and values make our synagogue so special.

Congregation Etz Hayim seeks to be a center of Jewish spiritual, cultural, and communal life in Arlington – a tree of life. Egalitarian and inclusive in both principle and practice, we encourage diversity and freedom of expression, recognizing that each of us chooses our own path in Judaism. We revere and embrace the rich heritage of our varied Jewish traditions and teachings, seeking to integrate our Jewish identity and observances in our daily lives. Congregational learning and communal participation are the vehicles through which we broaden our understanding and experience of Judaism: our members lead and participate actively in services and programming, and members take responsibility for other members; that it is who we are. We are also highly engaged with other houses of worship and other social action causes in the community at large. At CEH, we cherish our diversity of LGBTQ families and individuals, interfaith families, adoptive families, Jews by choice, Jews of all colors, and a wide range of ages, backgrounds, political ideology, and perspectives. Combining study and action, and tailoring our efforts to appeal to all of our members and to other Jews in the Arlington community, we continually strive to foster engagement in lifelong learning with and from one another.

Rabbinic Search FAQs

Q: Why is Rabbi Bass leaving?
We have been blessed to have Rabbi Bass as our spiritual leader for over 18 years. In Judaism, the number 18 is a significant number; it represents life. Much like people, synagogues similarly go through life cycles, which include changes in leadership. This upcoming change provides us with the opportunity to assess our goals and strategies for the new decade. While we are sad to see Rabbi Bass go, we are excited for the road ahead.

Q: How long will Rabbi Bass remain at CEH?
Rabbi Bass will depart at the end of June 2020.

Q: How are you engaging the congregation in the selection process, and how will the Rabbinic Search Committee evaluate candidates?
Congregants’ insights and opinions have been—and continue to be—collected by the committee in several ways.

On January 12, 2020, we hosted a town hall meeting in which more than 80 congregants worked collaboratively to identify the rabbinic skills and experiences we would most like to see in our future spiritual leadership. The town hall also offered an opportunity for congregants to express their views, concerns, and thoughts about the rabbi search process. As noted above, we sent a survey by email to the entire congregation. All of the input received before January 21 was reflected in the Rabbinic Questionnaire we completed posting the position. We are continuing to accept responses to our survey, however, as this will help inform our interview process. Any member can request an individual discussion with a Search Committee representative by emailing CEH2020@etzhayim.net.

Based on congregational input, the Rabbinic Search Committee has prioritized the rabbi’s roles as pastor and teacher, congregational leader, and spiritual leader of events. Input also reflected the desire for a strong commitment to inclusivity to reflect CEH’s values.

The Rabbinic Search Committee will conduct screening interviews (with a subset of our committee) and first-round interviews (with our full committee). As we identify candidates who may be a good fit for this congregation, we will invite them to visit CEH for an in-person interview with the full congregation. This may include Shabbat or weekday visits. We will notify the congregation in advance of any such visits and provide materials regarding the candidate(s), as well as a means for specific feedback on applicants.

While we are not permitted to share the job posting materials, except through the USCJ system, congregants are encouraged to share with anyone who may be interested that we are seeking to fill this important role in our community. Any such candidates are welcome to contact USCJ/Rabbinical Assembly to view our materials and apply.

Q: Has the committee considered hiring an interim rabbi?
The CEH Board of Directors has decided to prioritize hiring a permanent Rabbi, and the Rabbinical Search Committee is proceeding with this goal in mind.

Q: Who is on the Rabbinic Search Committee?
The search committee is chaired by Natalie Roisman and Elisa Rosman, and its leadership and members reflect the full range of diversity of which our congregation is so proud. The committee consists of longtime members and newer members, religious school parents, and representatives from the teen, young adult, Jewish by choice, and LGBTQ communities.
CLICK HERE to read the Rabbinic Search Committee Member bios.

Q: Is there planning underway to celebrate Rabbi Bass’s 18 years at CEH?
Yes! Planning is underway. We will update this site and the congregation shortly.