From Strength to Strength – Educator and Business Manager Updates


In July of last year, Susan Jacobs, our Director of Education, announced that she will retire in June of 2020. Susan’s work ethic is unparalleled and has inspired countless Jews and members of our community. Susan is a kid whisperer, a team builder and team player. She is a role model for Jewish living and lifelong learning. We will celebrate Susan’s gifts and honor her legacy on May 15th and 17th. More information is coming soon.

Our Congregation is in the process of hiring a new Director of Lifelong Jewish Learning. The initial objective of the position is to ensure a successful transition for our religious school and remain focused on youth and family engagement.  The new educator will hold the curricular, administrative and educational leadership of our religious school and oversee (in conjunction with Rabbi Klass) our Youth Advisor, Hebrew High Director, and Tikvah Charlotte program.

We also intend for this position to evolve to include leadership responsibilities for our adult education program. The position will work collaboratively with the engagement and adult education lay leaders and senior staff to help develop and deliver an inspiring and cohesive adult education program. The Director of Lifelong Jewish Learning will have the opportunity to teach adults, team with clergy, staff, lay leadership, guest speakers, and especially with our Brotherhood, Sisterhood, SPICE and our vibrant small-group initiative: TriBE.

I appointed a search team, chaired by Ben Benson, our First-Vice President. The search team includes Allen Sherman (Vice-President of Youth Learning), Ann Baumgarten, Courtney Rosenthal, Andy Seigel, Nancy Adamo, Alan Kronovet, Anya Dippold, Lisa Garfinkle, and Rabbi Knight. The team has conducted the initial round of video interviews and is bringing back our first finalist in late January.  Information about finalist visits will be sent directly to the congregation.  During the candidates’ visits to Charlotte, there will be time for congregants, faculty, youth learners and teens to meet with and learn about the candidates.

Business Management

In January 2019, Rabbi Knight assumed the role of interim-Executive Director. Rabbi Knight, in partnership with lay leaders and staff, has helped to lead the congregation to pass a new mission and vision statement, cut the budget, create statements of impact and an initial set of goals for the building blocks of a strategic plan, launch a Governance Review Working Group, change our annual giving model, and with the help of the clergy team, supporting the pastoral and educational needs of our congregation. We are thankful for his leadership and partnership. We also heard loud and clear that the congregation does not want Rabbi Knight to fill the interim-Executive Director role in perpetuity.

Our recent search process for an executive director taught us about the position and the limited availability of suitable candidates. Applicants from smaller congregations were not trained to fulfill the organizational demands of our larger congregation. Many applicants did not have enough requisite experience or training. Unfortunately, qualified candidates with experience can make significantly more money in the for-profit sector. Finally, a few congregations like ours spent so much money to attract candidates with certain skillsets that it ultimately hindered the congregation from having enough people power to implement the role. Other congregations concluded that there was too much responsibility placed onto a single person.

In the absence of a qualified candidate, we do not want to risk hiring for such an important position. While we have not given up on the possibility of having a full-time executive director, the board has made a strategic choice to continue on our path of success.  To do this we are entering into a formal arrangement with Dan Shane, who has been our volunteer interim-Business Manager, to become our Business Manager. We are also elevating the role of Mark Risco, our phenomenal controller, to become the Director of Operations.  Both Dan and Mark have proven to be a good team and will report directly to the Board and supervised by Rabbi Knight. This will allow much of the business management and operations to come off Rabbi Knight’s shoulders while at the same time leveraging his role in navigating Shalom Park partnerships and other long-term strategic initiatives.

Thank you for your continued support of Temple Beth El as we implement additional changes to serve our entire congregation better. We are excited about these enhancements to our organizational structure and will keep you posted as our progress unfolds.

Evan Wilkoff

President, Temple Beth El Board of Directors