TBE Inside News
Thank you for visiting TBE INSIDE NEWS. As of 3/21/16, this web page has been dedicated to keeping our congregation informed of our overall transition efforts. To contact the Transition Team, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
9/1/16 60-DAY UPDATE
The lazy days of summer completely bypassed Temple Beth El this year! Though formal programming is traditionally light in the summer, temple staff, new clergy and lay leaders were extremely busy! Rabbis Knight and Klass, and our new Director of Youth Engagement, Sam Swire, hit the ground running July 1st. At the 60-day mark (today!) we are pleased to share that high holiday preparations are underway and our entire community of leaders – lay and staff – have taken time to get to know each other and to understand current priorities and challenges. Southern hospitality is important to us, and we have welcomed our new clergy at two congregational-wide dinners, Shabbat evening prenegs, and at congregant-hosted gatherings in a more personal setting. Over a hundred congregants will be attending our annual Wildacres retreat this weekend and will get to study, socialize, and get to know our new clergy and each other in a relaxed atmosphere in the mountains.
The most important priority over the past 60 days has been to build rapport and relationships through the daily routine of pastoral care, staff meetings, committee meetings, 1:1, and in small group conversations. The most important priority over the next 60 days will be to continue this focus.
How can you get to know our new clergy and your fellow congregants? Join us for preneg and worship. Come to a Torah Study or TBE-sponsored activity. Like us on Facebook.
Are you interested in hosting a welcome gathering in your home or being invited to one of the small in-home gatherings? Please reach out to the Transition Team.
Do you have a question? See frequently-asked questions or reach out to the Transition Team today.
7/3/16 WELCOME NEW CLERGY
We are excited to share that our new clergy have arrived and our new Clergy Team led a beautiful service together on July 1st! Several congregants have asked questions about the changes and we want to share answers with you! Click the link to see a list of the most commonly-asked questions (and answers) to date ==> Transition Team FAQs 07-01-16
Did you miss the annual meeting? Click on the links below to see what you missed.
- Live stream meeting link (fast forward to 51:30)
- Handouts (including end-of-year report and list of new board of directors)
- Presentation Slides
- Executive Director’s Remarks
- President’s Speech
TRANSITION TEAM UPDATE
Change is never easy. As “creatures of habit,” we tend to be more comfortable with the status quo. Goodbyes are especially difficult, as we often feel personal loss and anxiety with the departure of a beloved clergy member and friend.
The Transition Team is working behind-the-scenes with clergy, staff, and the “Community of Leaders” (past presidents, board of directors, and committee chairs) to lead the entire congregation through our transition. With expert guidance from the URJ’s consultant Rabbi Janet Offel, the team is learning how other congregations have handled similar challenges. By offering opportunities to say those goodbyes and build new relationships, as well as being sensitive to the congregation’s ongoing concerns, we will travel this path together.
Thank you to the fantastic individuals who planned and sponsored Rabbi Judy’s Farewell Party in April and Rabbi Jonathan’s Torah, Toast and Roast in May, the first steps of this important process. If you missed those events, there are other opportunities in June to say “L’hitraot” to our dedicated clergy:
- June 3 – Rabbi Judy’s last Family Service
- June 10 – Confirmation/Shavuot and Rabbi Judy’s last Shabbat service
- June 13 – Wine & Cheese social and open office hours
- June 17 – Rabbi Jonathan’s last Shabbat service
We strongly encourage you to attend the Annual Meeting on Monday, June 6. The Transition Team will provide more details about our approach and upcoming summer events to welcome Rabbi Asher Knight and Rabbi Dusty Klass to TBE.
The most important thing we can do is to listen, so please email your thoughts and questions.
L’hitraot and Baruch Habah!
The essence of a successful transition is saying a goodbye and thank you to our beloved clergy who have served us so well over the past years and then warmly and enthusiastically welcoming our new clergy to our Temple as we begin to build meaningful relationships with them.
Our Transition Team is leading the planning of this most important process. The core team – Chairperson Howard Seidler, Ivy Berman, Laura Bernstein, Mickey Gold, Karen Greenblatt, Jack Levinson, Eliza Lieberman, Frances Liss, and Ginny Rosenberg – is working with the “Community of Leaders” (past presidents, board of directors, and committee chairs), TBE clergy and staff, and the entire congregation to offer significant opportunities to say “L’hitraot” and “Baruch Habah.”
Throughout April/May/June, we’ll celebrate our past as we honor Rabbi Judy and Rabbi Jonathan at several formal events: Bestowing the Emerita honor on Rabbi Judy Schindler at Shabbat services on April 8, celebrating at Rabbi Judy’s gala on April 9, and honoring Rabbi Jonathan Freirich at Congregational Shabbat on May 14. Both Rabbi Judy and Rabbi Jonathan will also offer scheduled office hours so that you may say goodbye on a more personal level.
Beginning in July, we’ll offer numerous opportunities to meet Rabbi Asher Knight and Rabbi Dusty Klass. The energy surrounding the rabbi search process and special January congregational meeting was extraordinary. We hope to continue that momentum as we welcome Rabbi Knight and Rabbi Klass (and their families) to Charlotte and integrate them into our extended TBE family. Check your weekly email, website, and Facebook for congregation-wide BBQs and picnics, special Shabbat prenegs and onegs, Wildacres Retreat, adult classes taught by the new clergy, High Holy Day events, and installation services. We will also conduct small parlor meetings at congregants’ homes so you can engage with the new clergy in a more intimate setting. Though we hope you will meet the new rabbis right away, please remember that it takes time to build relationships. It may take many months, and even through 2017, for you to deepen your ties with our new rabbis. After all, 1100 families is a lot of people to meet. Yet we know that the more you engage, the better our new rabbis will know you and the better you will know them.
As a Transition Team, we are getting valuable help and training from the URJ’s Rabbi Janet Offel, who expertly guides other congregations through cultural change and transition. The most important thing we can do is to listen, so please share your thoughts and concerns with us via email@example.com.
CANDIDATE VISITS COMPLETE
We welcome your thoughts, perspective, and questions!
The Search Committee will meet later today to review all three candidate visits. If you participated in Torah Study or met the candidates in another venue, and you have feedback to share that you haven’t shared yet, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check back tomorrow to see an update on answers to congregant questions.
MEET OUR NEXT TWO CANDIDATES
We hope you are able to meet our 2nd and 3rd Assistant Rabbi candidates.
Meet-n-Mingle (parents of 6th – 12th graders invited)
Tuesday, 3/1/16 and Tuesday, 3/8/16, 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Location: TBE Levine Social Hall
Light appetizers provided. No RSVP necessary.
Lunch-n-Learn / Torah Study (all congregants invited)
Wednesday, 3/2/16 and Wednesday, 3/9/16, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Location: TBE Levine Social Hall
Lunch is provided. If you plan to attend one or both please send an email to email@example.com so we can plan food accordingly.
ANSWERS TO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
Thank you to everyone who has been involved in the search process for our next Assistant Rabbi. We had over 65 people at yesterday’s Torah Study and many people have graciously shared their time and stories about how Temple Beth El is a wonderful synagogue. Over the past week, several congregants have asked questions. The most common questions are listed here with answers for everyone. Please continue to use firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you have. The Search Committee is pleased our congregation is involved in this process!
Q) Why did we only have a few days notice before the first candidate visit?
A) Our Interview Team was in New York February 7-9. On February 10th we were allowed to reach out and invite candidates to visit during limited time frames. We learned on Thursday, February 11th that our first candidate would visit this week so we responded and communicated as quickly as possible.
Q) Do we know when the other two candidates will visit?
A) Yes. March 1-3, and March 8-10. We are still finalizing schedule details but it is safe to plan on congregational-wide Torah Study for Noon on March 2 and March 9.
Q) Is Rabbi Asher Knight involved in the process?
A) Yes. Rabbi Knight was part of the interview team in New York and will be in Charlotte for part of all three candidate visits. Rabbi Knight’s time is limited so we will not be scheduling congregational-wide activities or meetings for these particular visits.
Q) Can we hear the candidates’ viewpoints on a variety of issues (interfaith marriage, Iran, certain social justice topics, etc.)
A) The Search Committee is meeting with each candidate and will be asked questions that help us determine whether the candidate is prepared to work within our synagogue and grow as a rabbi. Part of this growth includes learning how to answer questions about personal viewpoints and how to integrate Jewish values into conversations. At this point in the process, it is not appropriate to ask certain types of questions. Please know, however, that our Search Committee is asking important questions and appreciates hearing what is most important to our congregants. Please keep using email@example.com to ask question or feel free to reach out to any committee member (names listed in the 1/14/16 update below).
PROSPECTIVE ASSISTANT RABBI VISITS
The Assistant Rabbi Search Committee is pleased to share that we will be bringing in three candidates over the course of the next several weeks. Our first candidate will visit next week, Tuesday, 2/16/16 and Wednesday, 2/17/16.
There are three opportunities for congregants to meet our first candidate. These meetings have been designed to engage different cohorts of the congregation. We invite you to participate in the activity that is best for you.
Meet-n-Mingle (parents of 6th – 12th graders invited)!
Tuesday, 2/16/16, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Location: TBE Levine Social Hall
(arrive early as parking will be a challenge)
Lunch-n-Learn / Torah Study (all congregants invited!)
Wednesday, 2/17/16, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Location: TBE Levine Social Hall
Lunch is provided. If you plan to come, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can plan food accordingly.
The Porch Happy Hour (young adults invited!)
Wednesday, 2/17/16, 8:00 pm
Location: Tyber Creek Pub (1033 South Blvd.)
Information will be updated on this page as we know more details about each candidate’s visit. If you have any questions, please send an email to email@example.com.
FIRST INTERVIEWS COMPLETE
Thank you to everyone who has been involved in the process of giving input about the qualities most important in our next assistant rabbi. A sub-committee of the Search Committee just got back from Hebrew Union College in New York where we met with 11 candidates–all enthusiastic and talented students who are interested in exploring how Temple Beth El can become their first rabbinic home. In addition to the student interviews, we have also conducted two Skype interviews with rabbis currently working in the field. The Search Committee met today to discuss top candidates for on-site interviews. 1 1/2 – 2 day interviews at TBE are likely to be scheduled around Wednesdays February 17, March 2, and March 9. As soon as we have schedules solidified, we will share how the entire congregation can be involved in the process. If you have any questions at any time, please do not hesitate to reach the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RESUMES REVIEWED AND INTERVIEWS SCHEDULED
We are pleased to share that the Assistant Rabbi Search Committee has reviewed 15 resumes and is starting the interview process. A sub team will be headed to New York to interview several applicants during the 2nd week of February. We will keep you posted on our progress as new information becomes available.
ASSISTANT RABBI SEARCH COMMITTEE FORMED
We are pleased to announce the members of the Assistant Rabbi Search Committee:
Cantor Andrew Bernard
Ginny Rosenberg, Chair
Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas
Rabbi Asher Knight is also involved in the search process.
If you have any questions about the Assistant Rabbi Search Process, please contact us and your inquiry will be directed to Ginny Rosenberg or our executive director, Dr. Laura Bernstein.
Information below reflects previous updates about our Senior Rabbi Search Process. On January 6, 2016, our congregation voted and we are pleased to share that Rabbi Asher Knight will join our congregation as Senior Rabbi effective July 1, 2016.
SEARCH COMMITTEE MAKES RECOMMENDATION
We would like to extend our appreciation to the entire congregation for your participation in the on-site visits with each of our Rabbi candidates. The Search Committee has received over 600 surveys, emails, and phone calls detailing preferences, questions and requests for consideration of various strengths and issues related to each of our candidates. Your input is a significant part of the Search Committee’s selection process and we thank you for your thoughtful engagement. We are now in the decision process and want you to be aware of the following schedule.
12/30/15: The Search Committee convenes on Wednesday, December 30th to review all congregational input, reference checks, leadership assessments, staff feedback, and on-site visit observations (both at TBE and at our candidates’ synagogues).
1/4/16: The Search Committee will meet with the Board of Directors on January 4th to share their recommendation and rationale. The Board of Directors will go into executive session to vote on this very important decision.
1/6/16: A special congregational meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 6th at 7:00 pm to hear the Board’s recommendation and ratify the selection of our next senior rabbi.
During the months of January and February, a transition team, led by Howard Seidler, VP of Administration, will work with our executive director, clergy, and lay leaders to help manage the details of our transition. Also during these months the Search Committee for our Assistant Rabbi, led by Ginny Rosenberg, First Vice President, will work with our new senior rabbi to identify and select an assistant rabbi. We will continue to use this TBE Inside News page to keep the congregation informed of our progress. We will also keep email@example.com open should you wish to send a note to either the Senior Rabbi Search Committee or the Assistant Rabbi Search Committee.
We are pleased to welcome our third candidate this weekend and hope you will be able to observe and interact with him. Please join us for any of the following activities.
Friday, December 18
5:15 pm – 6:00 pm: Mingle during pre-neg before Shabbat evening service (Atrium)
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Candidate will be introduced during worship and will have an opportunity to speak immediately prior to the misheberach
7:00 pm: Meet congregants following services
Saturday, December 19
9:00 am: Attend Bagel Breakfast prior to leading Torah Study (Bernstein Recognition Hall)
9:30 am – 10:30 am: Candidate will lead morning Torah Study before services (Archer Chapel)
10:30 am – 11:00 am: Meet congregants following Torah Study and before services
11:00 am: Attend worship services and mingle afterward
Sunday, December 20
10:15 am – 11:00 am: Mingle with Religious School Parents
We will have a similar evaluation as with our first two candidates and would like everyone to know that your comments are appreciated. We will also have an additional question on the evaluation form for those people who had an opportunity to meet/interact with all three candidates. Our congregation’s feedback is extremely valued. Thank you for being part of this important process!
See last week’s schedule below to get an idea of the timetable for the third Rabbi candidate’s visit next weekend (December 18, 19 & 20).
If you were present during the weekend of 12/4-12/6, please complete the feedback survey. If you do not wish to complete the survey and prefer to give feedback to the search committee via email, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Interview Process Continues
The Search Committee is pleased to share that our second candidate will visit this weekend. We invite the entire congregation to meet, observe, and interact with our candidate Friday evening during Preneg (5:15 – 6:00), Family Service (6:00), Torah Study Saturday morning (bagel breakfast at 9:00, Torah Study from 9:30 – 10:30), prior to the 11:00 am Saturday service, and from 10:15 – 11:00 am at Religious School on Sunday. We will have a similar evaluation as with our first candidate and would like everyone to know that your comments are appreciated. Thank you for being part of this important process.
Thank You For Being Part of the Process
Last weekend we had our first candidate visit and have now received feedback from over 160 congregants. Thank you for showing up to introduce our first candidate to Temple Beth El, to learn from him, and to interact and give feedback to the Search Committee. If you were present during the weekend of 11/20 – 11/22 and haven’t had a chance to complete the feedback survey, please complete the survey now as it will close December 2nd. If you do not wish to complete the survey and prefer to give feedback to the search committee via email, please write us at email@example.com. Our 2nd candidate will visit 12/4 – 12/6 and there will be several opportunities to meet and observe him including Friday worship services and Torah Study on Saturday morning. Watch for more details next week, and thank you for being part of this important process!
The Congregation’s Role in the Search Process
As we prepare to host the finalists for the senior rabbi position, it is an opportune time to explain the role of the congregation in the search process.
Officially, the Temple board appointed co-chairs of the search who recruited a committee of 11 congregants. The search committee has been working since June on its assignment. It created the application, interviewed candidates and will oversee the upcoming weekends as well as site visits to the candidates’ home congregations.
Throughout the process, the search committee has asked for and received comments from congregants. There was also an extensive survey conducted last summer, to determine personal and professional attributes that the congregation wanted to see in their senior rabbi. The search committee reviewed the survey results and factored them into the overall criteria for evaluating applicants for the position.
There will be several opportunities for the entire congregation to meet and observe each finalist when he visits. During and after these weekends, congregants may share their observations with the search co-chairs directly or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The search committee welcomes and will consider this feedback in its deliberations. There will not be a congregational vote on the candidates. The committee ultimately will make a recommendation to the board of which candidate to hire. The board will make the final decision, which is expected in January.
For questions or comments, feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
Amendment to 11/12/15 Note below.
We have removed names from the 11/12/15 post below to help protect the privacy of the individuals. Please contact our executive director, Laura Bernstein if you have any questions about why we needed to do this.
It is Time to Get to Know Our Final Candidates
Finding our next senior rabbi has entered the final stage. Over the next six weeks, search committee members will travel to observe the three candidates at their current congregations. We will also host all three finalists for site visits here at Temple Beth El. These weekends are your opportunity to participate in our search process. Following are the designated dates with the names of candidates who will be coming to Charlotte: [updated 11/15/15 – removed names to protect the privacy of the individuals. See 11/15/15 note above]
To ensure that all finalists receive fair and equal treatment, the Union of Reform Rabbis (URJ) has guidelines for congregations to follow during these visits. Among other requirements, the schedule for all three weekends must be essentially the same, and candidates may not lead full worship services. We have attempted to provide as many opportunities as possible for all congregants to observe and meet each candidate within these constructs. Following is a general schedule* for all three weekends for your planning purposes:
5:15 pm – 6:00 pm: Attend pre-neg before the Shabbat evening service
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Introduced during services with opportunity to say a few words
7:00 pm: Meet congregants following services
9:00 am: Attend Bagel Breakfast prior to leading Torah Study
9:30 am – 10:30 am: Lead morning Torah Study before services
10:30 am – 11:00 am: Meet congregants following Torah Study and before services
11:00 am: Attend worship services and mingle afterward
10:15 am – 11:00 am: Mingle with Religious School Parents
Congregants are welcome to attend any and all of the above events on all three weekends. We only ask that you refrain from sharing details about the visits, such as the names of the candidates or their pictures, on social media. Additionally, out of respect for the candidates’ privacy, we also ask that you not do personal reconnaissance or reach out to the candidates’ current congregants. You will have the opportunity to provide comments to the search committee about what you observe.
We are excited to bring the finalists to Temple Beth El and introduce them to you in the coming weeks. Please let us know if you have comments or questions.
Adam and Moira, co-chairs
* Schedule subject to change
Skype Interviews Complete
The Rabbi Search Committee is pleased to share our process is quickly moving forward. After several telephone interviews, the Committee held in-depth Skype interviews with six viable candidates. The Committee meets later this week to discuss the interviews and determine finalists.
Weekends being held for three finalists to visit Charlotte include November 20-22, December 11-13, and December 18-20. Additionally, as part of the process, members of the Search Committee will make visits to each finalists current congregation.
There will be ample opportunity for the congregation to meet the finalists and provide feedback to the Search Committee. Weekend agendas will include informal greeting opportunities and formal study and presentations. Specific opportunities will include time with the entire congregation, as well as time with lay leaders, clergy, staff and various affinity groups.
More details will be shared as they are finalized. We look forward to the entire congregation being part of the process! Questions? Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone Interviews in Progress
By the closing of the application period on August 31, the Search Committee for our Senior Rabbi had received inquiries from 18 candidates. Committee members evaluated these applications and extended invitations to 12 candidates for our first round of interviews, which are underway. The group will be reduced to six candidates for a second round of more intensive interviews planned for later in October.
November: By November 1st, we expect to have chosen the three finalists for the position. During that month, teams of search committee members will make site visits to the finalists’ home markets. I
December: In the first three weekends of December, we plan to host the finalists in Charlotte. These site visits will be designed to provide ample opportunities for congregants to interact with and observe the candidates.
January: By the beginning of January, the search committee plans to make its final recommendation to the Temple board.
Stay tuned for updates about the process and details about the finalists’ visits in December.
Search Committee Reviewing Resumes
Good news from the Search Committee for our Senior Rabbi: We received 16 excellent resumes from Rabbis all over the U.S. These are stellar candidates. The final day for submission of resumes was August 31, so the committee is now beginning the evaluation process on these applications.
After the High Holidays, we will begin the telephone and Skype interview process. During the month of November, we plan personal visits with our finalists, visiting our congregation in December where your input will be vital.
Many thanks to our outstanding Search Committee. The real work is just now beginning. Thanks also for your confidence, as we do this vital work on behalf of our congregation.
Candidates Applying for Senior Rabbi Position
The 14 members of the rabbinic search committee have been meeting regularly with a great deal of progress to show for our efforts.
Temple Beth El’s opening was posted the first week in June. Several excellent candidates have responded so far. We are working closely with the Rabbinic Placement Commission, a joint effort among the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Union for Reform Judaism and Hebrew Union College.
Our committee refined its process and is on schedule to meet the goal of identifying a new senior rabbi by the first of next year.
There will be several opportunities for congregational input along the way. We hope you will all be a part of this journey. Please contact us with questions or comments.
Thank you for the trust you have placed in our committee.
Search Committee Posts Senior Rabbi Position
The Search Committee is pleased to share the following excerpts from the posted job description. Questions about the search process should be directed to the committee chairs, Adam Bernstein and Moira Quinn, at email@example.com.
What three qualities are most important to your congregation in your new rabbi?
Temple Beth El’s Senior Rabbi must be a mensch and have the skills and demeanor needed to take our congregation to the next level. We will look to our senior rabbi to:
- have clear vision for evolving a dynamic Reform Jewish community
- partner with our executive director in leading us through transitions and changes
- rally staff and lay leaders to implement that vision
- communicate in a way that turns skeptics and resisters into believers and transformers
- leverage the strengths of our entire community of leaders (clergy, staff, lay leaders)
Our senior rabbi’s primary goal is to ensure every congregant has our support to move along his or her personal Jewish journey and to help us bring Relational Judaism to life in all that we do.
To this end, the three qualities most important to our congregation are (as identified in a recent congregational survey):
- Relationship builder (knows how to build relationships quickly; is approachable; is present in the moment; engages in a way to deepen and broaden relationships through personal and communal interactions, during every day conversations, and in all pastoral and life cycle situations)
- Collaborator (an exemplary model and strong collaborative leader with lay leaders, clergy, staff, and community professionals; can navigate and operate well within the Jewish and non-Jewish community; knows when and how to be decisive and when and how to be flexible)
- Communicator (strong articulate speaker on and off the pulpit; ability to quickly provide the Jewish perspective on a variety of issues; handles sensitive issues and confidentiality with finesse; is responsive; communicates well in large-group settings, in one-on-one interactions; with the youngest congregant to the oldest congregant, through writing, via sermons, etc.)
The three most important priorities of our rabbi should be:
- we have the right environment and engagement opportunities so people feel like they are welcome, appreciated, and special.
- worship, educational and the overall mix of programmatic experiences are meaningful, inspiring, engaging and welcoming (to deepen and broaden relationships and spiritual growth).
- every life cycle event is special, comfortable and meaningful to each congregant/congregant family involved.
The single most important thing a rabbi needs to know about our congregation is:
We are an inclusive congregation, accepting of all people. Inclusivity is not a buzz word for us, it is a fundamental value. If you were to ask our congregants for one adjective to describe us, they would uniformly use the word “inclusive.” We have a large interfaith population, a strong conversion program with many congregants who are Jews by choice, a vibrant Keshet (LGBTQ) community, and congregants from a wide variety of geographies. The reason we now have close to 1100 members and are the largest Reform Temple in the Carolinas is because we are as diverse and inclusive as we are.
What are the three primary goals of your congregation?
In 2012, our board and strategic planning committee outlined four long-term strategic outcomes. These outcomes are still relevant today and our goals relate to executing on the actions necessary to achieve and expand these outcomes.
- Related to Mission & Identity/Membership Engagement & Retention – The members of Temple Beth El live rich and vibrant Jewish lives as individuals and as an inclusive community both inside and outside the synagogue.
- Related to Communications – The members of Temple Beth El have the information they need to be full participants in the life of the congregation.
- Related to Clergy, Staff and Lay Leadership – Temple Beth El sustains strong and well-supported clergy, staff and lay leadership.
- Related to Financial Sustainability – Temple Beth El is sufficiently funded to meet annual operating needs and to ensure long-term viability and security of the Temple community.
- Create the environment and mix of offerings to promote and allow for deep and broad relationships.
- Focus communications on providing the right information via the right venue to help congregants engage in ways most appropriate for themselves and their families.
- Increase endowments, legacy, and annual sacred giving to perpetually maintain our high level of quality clergy, staff, and offerings.
What are the most important issues to confront in your congregation in the next five years?
During the next five years we anticipate several challenges. Charlotte is currently the 18th largest city and the 3rd fastest growing city in the United States. Although we are a minority within our local community, Temple Beth El is viewed as one of the city’s most progressive and involved religious institutions. Our reputation demands that we continue to have a presence in the greater community, while making sure our primary concerns are congregational engagement and spiritual growth. Issues we will need to look at over the next five years include:
- Workforce planning (e.g. senior cantor and senior staff retirements)
- Membership growth (e.g. national trend of “non joiners” and geographic growth away from Shalom Park)
- Endowment growth for financial sustainability
- Evolving a dynamic menu of lifelong learning opportunities that engage the entire family
- Sustainability and Scalability (the larger we get the larger chance of splintering; need to make sure all congregants find their place)
What are your congregation’s core values?
- Sacred community – We aim to share the responsibility for the caring of our congregation, from meals for the sick to chevra kaddishah, and hope to be there for each other in powerful ways. Relationships are key.
- Sacred learning – from tots through seniors bringing Jewish teaching to life is a core value in which hundreds and hundreds of congregants are engaged.
- Sacred action – Temple Beth El is intentional and committed to its social justice and action engagement. We see ourselves as partners with the greater Charlotte community and within the broader Reform movement.
- Sacred giving – We believe when people give of their time, treasure, and talent, the entire congregation will benefit.
What are your congregation’s strengths?
We are proud of our impact over the past decade. We are particularly proud of our accomplishments in the following areas:
- Niche Engagement: We are strong in engaging target demographic groups, especially youth and active seniors. And we are among the leaders nationally in forming Jewish Living Groups.
- Variety: We produce a wide variety of programming to meet the diverse needs/interests of the congregation (there is something for everyone).
- Participation: We have a significant number of congregants who give of their time, treasure, and talent.
- Post-B’nai Mitzvah: We are beating the national trend in retention of post B’nai Mitzvah students who go on to our Hebrew High.
- Youth Programs: We have youth programs starting in Kindergarten and a strong madrichim program involving over 100 students annually. According to NFTY statistics, Temple Beth El had the highest number of participants in the country during the 2012-14 period.
- Facility: Our building is on a beautiful, conveniently located site , and is sought out for life cycle events. In 2011 we successfully completed a 10 M capital and endowment campaign. We also completed a major renovation and expansion nearly doubling our building size.
- Gift Shop: Our gift shop is a premiere Judaica store in the Southeast.
- Lay Leadership: We have a strong group of lay leaders and succession activities. Our ability to form volunteer groups and get a job done is unmatched. (e.g. this year’s mitzvah day had over 500 congregants participating in 28 community projects).
- Nationally-recognized Outreach Program & Community Presence: As part of the Mecklenburg Ministries, our annual Comparative Religion Series attracts over 500 people annually.
- Inclusivity: We regularly attract a diverse population. People tell us they feel more welcome than other places and we work hard at audacious hospitality.
- Social Justice: We have a strong commitment to social justice and action and a very active community of leaders in this area. Our congregants take pride in the fact that Temple Beth El is a voice of conscience in the larger community. We are actively engaged in interfaith dialogue, advocacy, and action in the greater Charlotte community.
- Sacred Gifts: We no longer have a traditional dues structure; rather, we now are in our 4th year of a sacred giving program. We ask people to give from their heart and they respond. People who can give more, do. People who are unable to give a lot, give what they can. We do not turn away people due to financial strain and we provide High Holiday tickets to all members. We want people to be part of our congregation and will never allow finances to be an obstacle.
What are your congregation’s greatest challenges?
We have grown quite a bit over the past decade and continue to experience growth pains. Our greatest challenges include:
- Keeping Pace – Our ability to effectively serve a broad demographic without overburdening our resources.
- Personalized Relationships – We need to work harder (and smarter) to reach the people feeling lost or disengaged.
- Continued Parental Engagement– Parents focused on their children often do not engage personally and over time lose connection with the Temple as their children graduate.
- Perception of Family Friendly – We are working to change an ongoing perception that we are not as child-friendly and family-friendly as we would like to believe we are.
- Communication – We are working to become more intentional about how we engage people of all ages through e-news, social media, personal communication, etc.
Briefly describe the financial condition of the congregation.
The temple is in a strong financial condition with assets worth 16 M and liability/debt of 150 K. In 2014, the Temple made a commitment to add a full time Director of Development to ensure long-term sustainability. We run an efficient budget for our size congregation and continue to build our long-term endowments. We also have set goals to increase endowment, legacy giving, and annual sacred gift commitments.
Special Message to Candidates:
Charlotte is a special place. We are a vibrant New South city, a banking center, an energy hub and a beehive of entrepreneurial growth. Our recreational offerings, from professional and amateur sports to the arts and culture, are as broad as they are deep. There are mountains and beaches less than three hours away. You never know who you might run into at the grocery store: Arnold Palmer, Michael Jordan, Jeff Gordon or Ryan Locht! And the weather? Don’t get us started.
There is rich Jewish life here. Temple Beth El is the Carolina’s largest Reform congregation. Its home, Shalom Park, was the first of its kind in the country: a 65-acre consolidated campus that is the home of the city’s two largest congregations, the Jewish Community Center, Federation and more than a dozen Jewish agencies, along with educational, administrative and meeting space that all of the organizations share. More than 30 years after its founding, Shalom Park remains a model for forward thinking and cooperation.
We are a community that believes in itself. We had the audacity to actually grow our economy and open a new cultural arts district (bearing the name of Leon and Sandra Levine, local Jewish philanthropists) during the “Great Recession.” In 2012, we hosted the Democratic National Convention flawlessly. We are one of a handful of cities with a plan to end chronic homelessness, and are on track to do it by 2017.
Our city center is compact, walkable, and houses a thriving entertainment district: cultural institutions, museums, galleries, restaurants and other entertainment. The Associate Artistic Director of Charlotte Ballet, Patricia McBride, was recognized at this year’s Kennedy Center Honors, spurring “Patty Pride” throughout the City. Nightlife abounds. From the air, Charlotte is verdant with an extensive tree canopy and numerous parks and green spaces. Bring your boat, rent a bike through our bike share program, and pack your jet ski, your bike or your golf clubs.
Our new downtown minor league ballpark is a gem. It is next door to Bank of America Stadium where the NFL Carolina Panthers play in the fall and down the street from the Time Warner Cable Arena where the NBA Charlotte Hornets play in the winter. The PGA brings a handful of tournaments here and showcases the incredible golf courses throughout Charlotte region. Lakes Norman and Wylie provide year-round outdoor living.
Where do you want to live? Classic Victorian or urban bungalo in an inner-ring neighborhood; condo along the Light Rail line; two-story on a quiet suburban cul de sac; or even a small farm; all are within a 20-minute drive of Shalom Park. Here in Charlotte at Temple Beth El, we are waiting to be your next home.
2015 Congregational Survey Results in Alignment with Relational Judaism Goals
In early 2015, a Transition Task Team was created to begin evaluating our congregation’s future rabbinic needs. This team reviewed our current strategic plan, met with clergy, considered input from a variety of stakeholders, and collected congregational feedback. As part of this process a congregational survey was conducted. As with many surveys, the results show trends and provide fodder for additional exploration. Presented below is a summary of the results. As the Transition Task Team has now finished its work, we’d like to thank everyone who participated on the team, and in particular would like to acknowledge the work of Jeff Bierer, who administered the survey and compiled the results.
Laura Bernstein, Executive Director and Jack Levinson, President
SUMMARY OF SURVEY RESULTS:
315 congregants completed the entire survey with an additional 61 people answering some questions. Survey respondents reflect the overall congregation profile fairly well. Families with young children appear somewhat underrepresented.
25% were between ages 21 – 45
39% were between ages 46 – 60
37% were 61 or older
All born Jewish – 49%
One or more converted – 27%
Interfaith family – 24%
Less than 5 years – 2%
6-10 years – 22%
11-20 years – 27%
More than 20 years – 29%
Children at Home
None – 57%
Less than 6 years old – 7%
6 – 11 years old – 17%
12 – 18 years old – 24%
Older than 19 years – 6%
We asked where you felt we had ‘Too Little’ or ‘Too Much Focus’.
Overall, you said our focus was ‘Just Right’ with a few areas where we can improve. Half the survey respondents said we had too little focus on Building Personal Relationships with Congregants (54%). Other areas where some additional focus was called for included: Taking Stands on Topical Moral Issues (24%), Traditional Shabbat Services (23%), Creating a Spiritual Environment Conducive to Prayer & Reflection (24%) and Helping Congregants in Need (22%).
The two areas where we had a bit too much focus were Promoting Social Action and Justice (22%) and Shabbat Service Music (20%).
You identified many strengths. The top strengths included:
- High Holiday & Festival Services
- Community Involvement Beyond the Congregation
- Member Groups (e.g. Brotherhood)
- Social Justice & Action
- Religious School
- Temple Staff
- Being a Diverse Congregation
You felt we had room to improve in the areas of:
- Financial Management
- Having a Caring & Inclusive Atmosphere
- Board & Lay Leadership
Here are your thoughts on how a Senior Rabbi should prioritize his or her time:
- Building Personal Relationships with Congregants
- Leading Religious Services
- Ministering/Pastoral Activities
- Officiating at Lifecycle Events (e.g weddings & B’nei Mitzvah)
- Encouraging Support for and Connections to Israel
Here is a picture of which Personal Qualities and Skills you think are most critical in our next Senior Rabbi.
Personal qualities and skills felt by the congregation to be least important for our next Senior Rabbi were: ‘National Role in Reform Judaism’, ‘Musical’ and ‘Raising Money for the Temple’.
Seeking Congregational-wide Input
Your voice is important! Please complete the congregational-wide survey by Tuesday, May 5, 2015. Thank you!
Rabbinic Search Committee Formed
Past-Presidents Adam Bernstein and Moira Quinn, co-chairs of the Rabbinic Search Committee, are pleased to announce they have formed their committee. The members are as follows:
Jack Levinson (Board President)
If you have any questions about the Rabbinic Search Process, please contact us and your inquiry will be directed to Adam and Moira.