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Important Staff Message

Dear Friends,
We are very sorry to share Devorah’s news that her last day at Kol Ami will be on September 30. She is making a move to take a role that is more closely aligned to her goals / career focus.

The board is exploring several options for moving forward. We are working closely with Devorah and the synagogue staff to ensure smooth operations and ensure that Kol Ami runs as usual. We appreciate your understanding and invite you to reach out if we can be of assistance during this time. We are so grateful for the work Devorah has done during this transition period to keep Kol Ami strong.
L'Shana Tova,

Leonard Slutsky, Rebecca Shurz
Co-Presidents

 Dear Kol Ami Members, 
I am so grateful for the ways you have welcomed me into the community and trusted me to help you keep it going and growing. It has been a joy to learn about Kol Ami’s inspiring history, getting to know many of you and growing my appreciation of the impact Kol Ami has as an LGBTQ+ embracing Jewish community leader. 
 
I am writing to share that, after much soul searching, I made the difficult bittersweet decision to accept a position in the Mentoring Department of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles.  My last day at Kol Ami will be September 30, 2023.  I can only imagine how surprising and disappointing this news may be to hear.  
 
In this year of Standing Strong, I know you will do exactly that.  I am working closely with the staff and co-presidents to make this as smooth a transition as possible.  
 
I want to take a moment to reflect upon cherished highlights of our time together as we have a lot to be proud of.
​​​​​​​
  • We celebrated Rabbi Eger and Rabbi Levy’s time at Kol Ami with much kavod (dignity) and ruach (spirit).
  • 2023 Gala was an overwhelming fundraising success both for the temple and for the Historic Torah & Build Kol Ami’s Future Campaign!
  • We created an amazing video about what Kol Ami means to people.
  • The Passover Seder was simply beautiful.
  • The Purim Shpiel under Rabbi Ross’ direction was a night of much joy.
  • The Open Yad Project, MOKA, Book Circle and WOKA are thriving.
  • The Interim Rabbi Search Committee, chaired by Dr, Nancy Cohen, successfully hired Rabbi Barry Lutz.
  • Essential committees launched thanks to the excellent leadership of our co-presidents, Rebecca Shurz and Leonard Slutsky, and a truly energized multigenerational board.  
  • The new Rabbi Search Committee, chaired by Richard Bernard, is putting the finishing touches on an application for a permanent rabbi.
  • The first Community Break the Fast event is happening on September 25th!  
Beyond all these milestones, I must personally add that those of you whom I have gotten to know really inspire me by your generosity and connection to Kol Ami’s core purpose.  I have witnessed numerous examples of people stepping up to share their talents, hospitality, resources and care for one another.  While staffing the Board of Trustees and the Gala, Historic Torah & Build Kol Ami’s Future Campaign, Program, New Revenue Sources and Membership Committees, I was really delighted by the leadership, creativity and commitment to the community’s future I saw in action. 
 
My blessing to you are ones of optimism and gratitude.  
 
May Kol Ami go forth continuing to align community values and visions with the mitzvot, actions and spirit you have generously shared with me and with one another.
 
Thank you for the opportunity to have served this unique sacred community this past year.  
With respect and fondness,

Devorah

P.S. Please understand that I want to connect with so many of you during this High Holy Day season AND I need to balance that with running the High Holy Day services and completing training documentation.  So if we don’t get a chance to talk and you want to, feel free to email me at devorahservi@gmail.com so I can respond to you after I catch my breath.
 
 

Transition Committee Update

September 5, 2023
 
The Transition Committee has recently reconvened and shifted our focus from the rabbinic transition to the congregation’s identity now and into the future.
 
This means that the committee’s main work will be in listening to you about what’s on your hearts and minds and how Kol Ami has been and will be part of your lives. You can look forward to both formal and informal ways to share your thoughts in the months to come.
 
In the meantime, we wanted to share some interesting insights from the congregational survey that we asked you to complete earlier this year:
 
  • 60% of respondents said it was extremely or very important that the congregation explicitly identify as a LGBTQ+ community and that the new settled rabbi identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Pastoral skills and ritual expertise topped the list of most-wanted qualities in a settled rabbi.
  • About 75% of respondents are in their 50s or older. Notably, 12% are in their 30s (significantly more than those who are in their 40s), which represents an area of opportunity for Kol Ami’s future (hi, Open Yad!).
  • 9% of respondents identify as straight. More than twice as many respondents identify as gay (58%) than lesbian (23%). 4% identify as trans. 3% identify as non-binary or gender non-conforming.
  • 65% of respondents have been a member for more than 10 years. 30% have been members for 5 years or less.
  • High holiday services, Shabbat services, and Open Yad were the most frequently mentioned activities that are most important to respondents.
 
There were also many written responses that we took to heart, both about the congregation and the rabbinic search. Many thanks to the 80 of you who took part in this important survey.
 
If you have things you want to make sure the Transition Committee knows, please reach out to any of our members or to Devorah. And stay tuned for more to come.
Thanks for reading!
 
Transition Committee: Bill Weinberger, Jane Drucker, Leonard Slutsky, Marc Purchin, Marilyn Ader, Michael Sugar, Sam Fibish-DeWitt, Neil Spears (Transition Consultant)

 

Rabbi Search Committee Update

August 11, 2023
 
The Board of Trustees has appointed a Rabbi Search Committee to help our congregation find our next rabbi. The search committee represents a mix of perspectives and experiences within the congregation, including board and non-board members. It is engaging the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) placement services team and process. Fortunately, our congregation has experience using this process for hiring Rabbi Levy and Interim Rabbi Lutz. We plan to share updates and opportunities for feedback and engagement throughout the search process on this webpage and in the eKoleinu.
 
Committee Members:
Richard Bernard (Chair)
Kagan Jones
Hope Faust
Nancy Cohen
Yaffa Hughes
Eric Isenhower
David Levy
Leonard Slutsky
 
The committee met twice. We are currently working on completing the job posting application we must submit prior to the High Holidays. At this time, we scheduled three additional meetings to complete the application and also to conduct implicit bias training.
 

Important announcement from Rabbi Eger and Peter Mackler about our Temple

 

June 15, 2023

                                   
Dear Congregation Kol Ami,
 
The passing of communal leadership is a sacred moment for a rabbi and for a congregation. One such transition is found in Torah, that being the passing of leadership from Moses to Joshua. The Torah teaches that Moses charged Joshua to be "strong and resolute" (Deut. 31:7) to carry forth this holy people, our people. This leadership transition was done before the people. One can only imagine how the Israelites felt after so many years of Moses’ faithful and tireless leadership. All we are told is that Moses passed on the leadership with his blessing and God’s blessing.
 
As I transition towards Rabbi Emerita, I want you to understand my gratitude in serving as your Founding Sr. Rabbi during these past 30 years. My heart will always be here with you at Congregation Kol Ami. As Rabbi Lutz begins as the Interim Rabbi and Kol Ami begins its formal search for the next settled Rabbi, I have every confidence in our congregation’s leadership to guide us and to help our community thrive.
 
As Moses passed on the leadership of our people to Joshua, as of July 1, I will pass on the leadership of our congregation to Rabbi Lutz with my full support and blessing. This means that Rabbi Lutz will fully assume all the privileges and responsibilities of the position as Interim Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami. As such, he will be solely responsible for rabbinic decision-making regarding ritual and temple policies as well as management of the student rabbi, staff members and all programs. Rabbi Lutz will also, be responsible for all the programming, education, services, and life cycle events going forward.  
 
We are relying on the Board of Trustees, clergy, staff, and you, the members of our congregation to be our partners in ensuring a smooth and respectful transition. I commit to full compliance in our ongoing relationship according to the CCAR Code of Ethics Section II (b)(2) and informed by the CCAR Retiree-Successor Handbook (2021). 


As rabbi emerita, Rabbi Eger will retire from all rabbinic work at Congregation Kol Ami and will no longer provide input into temple policy or ritual practices, as Rabbi Lutz and then our settled rabbi will be the full and sole authority as the interim rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami. On occasion, particularly after the first year of transition, Rabbi Eger may be invited back to teach, lead services, or join our settled rabbi in officiating at lifecycle events or in pastoral roles as the new rabbi invites her and as her personal retirement schedule allows. We know this is the most difficult part of a rabbinic transition and trust all of our members will respect this and will use the established protocol of contacting the temple office to schedule lifecycle events instead of communicating with Rabbi Eger directly.
 
The Central Conference of American Rabbis, and best practices, recommend that to accomplish a successful transition, and to serve the best interests of the congregation, Rabbi Eger will be practicing what is known in tradition as "tzimtzum" a purposeful withdrawal from most elements of temple life to help facilitate our congregation’s process and Rabbi Lutz’s work as our Interim rabbi, especially for the first year. Congregation Kol Ami will always remain Rabbi Eger’s spiritual home as rabbi emerita of our congregation.
 
As Moses and Joshua modeled for us, a new leader can take our people into the future with the blessing of the old, even as the retired leader continues to be loved, admired, and honored. With resolute strength we will do all we can to help you through this time of transition.
 
Shalom,


Rabbi Denise L. Eger  


Peter Mackler, President
Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyar 5784