Frequently Asked Questions about the Rabbi Search

1. What is the Rabbi Search Process?
2. What is the timeframe for the Rabbi Search Process?
3. Who is on the Rabbi Search Committee?
4. Why is Or Shalom hiring an interim rabbi?
5. What is an interim rabbi?
6. What if we don’t find a permanent rabbi by the spring of 2015?
7. The posting for the rabbi position says that the candidates must have rabbinic s’micha recognized by OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal. Does this mean that only Jewish Renewal rabbis can apply?
8. Will I have a chance to meet the candidates and provide input into the permanent rabbi search?
9. I know a great candidate for the position. What should I do?
10. When will we start looking to fill the permanent rabbi position?
11. Who will make the final decision on hiring the permanent rabbi?
12. When can I find out who applied for the position?
13. How can I stay informed about the rabbi search process?
14. I heard a rumor about the rabbi search. How can I find out if it is true?

1. What is the Rabbi Search Process?


The rabbi search process began in the fall of 2013 and is currently underway. The first stage of the process involved establishing a Rabbi Search Committee (RSC). The RSC met for the first time in December 2013 and will continue to meet regularly throughout the entire rabbi search process. The RSC is working closely with the Or Shalom Board, who will ultimately make the final hiring decision based on the recommendation of the RSC.

Based on the recommendation of the RSC, the Board made the decision to hire an interim rabbi who will fulfill all rabbi functions until the permanent rabbi is in place. The interim rabbi will begin in the spring/summer of 2014, and the new permanent rabbi will begin in the spring/summer of 2015.

2. What is the timeframe for the Rabbi Search process?


The RSC is currently undergoing two separate and simultaneous processes to search for the interim and the permanent rabbi.

The timeline and dates below are provided to give you a sense of what the rabbi search process will look like and when decisions will be made. Please note: the dates below are approximate and subject to change.

The process for the interim rabbi search is as follows:

• Job description and application process was posted mid February 2014.
• Candidates will submit applications by March 15, 2014.
• The RSC will review the applications, create a short list of candidates and conduct interviews over the phone and/or video conference with candidates, from the end of March through April.
• The RSC will recommend one or two of the candidates to the Or Shalom Board.
• The Board will decide on the successful candidate and make an offer by the beginning of May.
• The Board will negotiate the interim rabbi contract in May and the final contract will be signed.
• The interim rabbi will begin in early July.

The process for the permanent rabbi search is as follows:

• The RSC will undergo preparatory work for the application and interview process beginning in March 2014. This work will include reviewing the results of the Or Shalom community survey which will be distributed to community members in the spring/summer of 2014.
• Job description and application process will be posted June 1, 2014.
• Candidates will submit applications by July 15, 2014.
• The RSC will review applications and create a short list of candidates by end of August 2014.
• The RSC will conduct a series of interviews over the phone and/or video conference with candidates throughout August and September 2014.
• The RSC will identify up to 3 candidates to participate in the next stage of the selection process, which involves visiting Or Shalom in person and leading a weekend-long series of activities at Shabbatons, from October to December 2014.
• The RSC will review the community feedback following the Shabbatons in January 2015 and recommend one of the candidates to the Board.
• The Board will make the final hiring decision in February 2015.
• The Board will make the offer to the successful candidate and negotiate the contract in February and March 2015.
• The permanent rabbi will begin in the spring/summer of 2015.

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3. Who is on the Rabbi Search Committee?


The Rabbi Search Committee (RSC) is comprised of eight Or Shalom members:

Susan Shamash (Co-Chair)
Alycia Fridkin (Co-Chair)
Martin Gotfrit
Harriett Lemer
Val Lev-Dolgin
Lorne Prupas
Karen Rabinovitch
Michelle Soucie

In recognition of the diversity of our Or Shalom community, we have been intentional about selecting RSC members who reflect this diversity. Members of the RSC represent new and old-time members of Or Shalom; people in interfaith families; newcomers to Judaism; members of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans/queer community; young adults; singles and couples; and families with young children, adult children, and no children.

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4. Why is Or Shalom hiring an interim rabbi?


The decision to seek an interim rabbi was based on two concerns. Firstly, it was recognized that a comprehensive search is a lengthy process. It takes months from the time the announcement goes out, to gather candidates, to arrange first and second interviews, to create a short list of candidates to come to Vancouver to give Shabbaton-style interviews with the community, to the final hiring decision and contract negotiations. The Rabbi Search Committee believes that we can’t expect to find a new permanent rabbi prior to Rabbi Laura’s last month in June, and the Board agreed that finding the right match is more important than rushing to a decision. Consequently, this set the expectation of having a permanent rabbi in place by summer 2015. Additionally, the timeframe of this hiring process is aligned with the hiring cycles of rabbis in other communities, who typically would have to move during the summer months.

Secondly, the RSC felt that the community will not be able to sustain the level of services that the community has become accustomed to without a rabbi on staff. Reflecting on Or Shalom’s previous rabbi transition period, we realize that the commitment and energy required to sustain our community through an entire year is not feasible at this time. While Shabbat services would likely continue, and possibly be boosted a bit by an additional call for volunteers, the other aspects of Or Shalom, such as kids’ programming, b’nei mitzvah classes, counseling, life cycle events, and holiday services would suffer without the time and coordination of a full time spiritual leader.

Prior to making the decision to hire an interim rabbi, the RSC reviewed literature and conducted some key informant interviews to learn more about the role of interim rabbis. This research demonstrated that there are additional benefits to having an interim rabbi, including having someone to help navigate our community through this significant transition.

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5. What is an interim rabbi?


An interim rabbi is someone who is a placeholder to perform all necessary lifecycle events, including b’nei mitzvah classes while we continue to search for a permanent rabbi. The interim rabbi can also act as a helper or guide for the community through the “inter-rebnum” transition.

More information about interim rabbis can be found here:
http://ccarnet.org/media/filer_public/2011/11/23/whenyourrabbileaves.pdf and http://ccarnet.org/media/filer_public/2011/11/23/whendoyouneedinterimrabbi.pdf

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6. What if we don’t find a permanent rabbi by the spring of 2015?


Or Shalom will extend the interim rabbi’s contract until the permanent rabbi is in place.

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7. The posting for the rabbi position says that the candidates must have rabbinic s’micha recognized by OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal. Does this mean that only Jewish Renewal rabbis can apply?


No, quite the contrary, rabbis from many denominations ARE eligible to apply. What this means is that eligible candidates must have received s’micha from rabbinical programs that are recognized by OHALAH. A list of eligible programs and schools are below.

By saying that we will only accept candidates with s’micha recognized by OHALAH, we are saying that we adopt OHALAH’s standards for rabbinical schools.

Applicants with s’micha from the following programs/schools are eligible to apply:

Renewal:
Aleph Rabbinic Program
P'nai Or Religious Fellowship
B'nai Or Religious Fellowship

Others:
Abraham Geiger College
Academy for Jewish Religion
Academy for Jewish Religion, California
Hebrew College Rabbinical School (as of Sivan 5768, 2008)
Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion
Institute for Traditional Judaism
Jewish Theological Seminary
Jews College - London College of Jewish Studies
Leo Baeck College
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies
Seminario Rabbinico Latinamerico
University of Judaism
Yeshivat Chovevei Torah
Yeshivat Tomchei T'mimim
Yeshiva University - Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary

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8. Will I have a chance to meet the candidates and provide input into the permanent rabbi search?


Yes! You will have a chance to meet the top three candidates during the Shabbaton weekends in October, November and December 2014. All Or Shalom community members will be notified and invited to participate in these three non-consecutive weekends (one candidate per weekend) where each candidate will lead a variety of activities including services, talks or workshops and other community events. We encourage all community members to attend, meet the candidates and participate in as many activities as you can!

At the end of each Shabbaton, the RSC will collect input from those who participated in the weekend. Or Shalom members will have a chance to provide detailed feedback about the candidates. This feedback will be collated and reviewed by the RSC and used to inform the RSC’s recommendation to the Board on which candidate(s) are considered “finalists”. The Board will make the final decision.

You can also participate by completing Or Shalom’s community survey and telling us what kind of qualities in a rabbi are important to you. The link to the survey is here.

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9. I know a great candidate for the position. What should I do?


If you know someone who is a good fit for the position, please let them know about the competition and refer them to the Or Shalom website for the job posting and information on how to apply.

The RSC will be circulating the job posting to relevant distribution lists and posting on relevant sites, however please feel free to also distribute the information on this website to anyone you think might be a good fit and who may be interested in applying.

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10. When will we start looking to fill the permanent rabbi position?


The process for searching for the permanent rabbi began in December 2013 and will continue until the position is filled. For more information on the rabbi search process and the timeline of events, please see the FAQ on “What is the Rabbi Search process?”

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11. Who will make the final decision on hiring the permanent rabbi?


The Or Shalom Board will make the final decision on hiring for both the interim and the permanent rabbi positions. However, based on community feedback from the Shabbaton weekends, the RSC will make a recommendation to the Board on the final candidate selection.

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12. When can I find out who applied for the position?


The applications are confidential and the names of applicants will not be released. However, information about the top candidates who will be leading the Shabbatons in fall 2014 will be distributed to the community closer to the dates.

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13. How can I stay informed about the rabbi search process?


You can stay informed on the rabbi search by:

• Visiting the Rabbi Search page on the Or Shalom website;
• Reading updates in the Doar, Or Shalom’s weekly e-newsletter, and Keren Or, our print newsletter;
• Talking to members of the Rabbi Search Committee; or
• Emailing the Rabbi Search Committee at rabbisearch@orshalom.ca.

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14. I heard a rumor about the rabbi search. How can I find out if it is true?

Email the Rabbi Search Committee and we’ll set the record straight!