Today is September 19, 2018 /

Main Office: 215-635-3110

Find Us: 8201 High School Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027

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Our Approach

Our Approach

It was vital to Rabbi Holin that we thoughtfully, transparently and communally work together to find his successor.  To this end, we viewed the transitional framework as a Gesher l’Ahteed, a Bridge to the Future.  Because this was a time for us to reflect on our rich history and core values to build a connection to the future for the Congregation.

The transitional work was separated into three phases over the next 18 months ending in June 2018 and was underscored with broad member involvement and opportunities to celebrate our founding Rabbi.

Phase 1 Engagement

The first phase focused on engaging our Congregation to articulate the values and vision we wanted to convey in our application for a new rabbi:

  • We conducted a series of parlor meetings and surveys about congregational values and priorities.
  • We talked with religious school parents and members of confirmation academy.
  • We met with our staff to gain their insights about our future.

By our count, nearly every member of the Congregation participated in some way in this engagement phase of Bridge to the Future. The information collected, along with beautiful letters from many of you to our “new rabbi,” informed an application to the national organization, Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) seeking a new rabbi. I believe the application uniquely represented the Kol Ami community’s values and identity.

Phase 2 Search

The search process began in the fall. Our devoted Search Committee – representing a diverse cross-section of the Kol Ami community – was led by co-chairs David Hyman and Barbara Fink and includes: Neal Beatus, Larry Cohbra, Julie Cohen, Sherry Cohen, Adena Johnston, Janine Pratt, Merle Salkin, and Bob Seltzer.

The Search Committee studied and evaluated a stream of rabbinic applications over several months and vetted those applications against a long list of criteria developed through the engagement process:

  • approachability
  • attitudes and practices towards interfaith families
  • attitudes toward our LGBTQ community
  • commitment to Tikun Olam
  • depth of Torah understanding
  • focus on individuals with disabilities
  • fundraising
  • how they might relate to existing staff
  • inclusiveness
  • interpersonal relationships
  • life cycle skills
  • management skills
  • performance of interfaith marriages
  • religious philosophy
  • synagogue management
  • teaching skills for all ages

Kol Ami received 18 resumes from rabbis across the country:

  • After evaluating the 18 resumes the Search Committee conducted virtual interviews with 11 candidates.
  • The field was narrowed to five candidates who had second interviews.
  • References and online and social media presence were checked for four candidates.
  • Three finalists were selected to visit Kol Ami (one candidate withdrew from consideration before the visit).

In December two finalists came to Kol Ami and participated in the following activities:

  • Adult Education presentation, D’Var, and wine and cheese reception with the Kol Ami community
  • Meetings with the Search Committee
  • Meetings with the professional staff
  • Lunch with Kol Ami President and members of Search Committee
  • Tour of the synagogue and Elkins Park
  • Interaction with students
  • Meal with Rabbi Holin
  • Dinner with Board and past presidents
  • Employment overview meeting with Contract Committee chair/representative

Throughout the process the Search Committee was in touch with CCAR for guidance, input and feedback. Following the visits, the Search Committee met for a thorough and lengthy discussion on December 18th where they deliberated every imaginable scenario with each of the two excellent candidates. They incorporated the survey feedback from the congregants who attended the D’Var and Adult Education programs of the candidates.