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Congregation Kol Ami Names New Assistant Rabbi 

Dear Kol Ami Community, 
 
Our Clergy Search Committee has successfully completed its task.

We are pleased to announce that Congregation Kol Ami has engaged Ross Z. Levy as our Assistant Rabbi starting at the end of June. Ross was our top candidate and we are fortunate that he has agreed to join our professional staff and Clergy team alongside Senior Rabbi, Denise Eger.   

Over the past four months the Search committee reviewed nearly 20 applications of Rabbis, Cantors, Student Rabbis and Student Cantors. We participated in implicit bias training and conducted over twenty hours of interviews. After the first-round interviews of 11 candidates, our two-day callback process for virtual synagogue visits took place over three weekends in February. This gave our top three candidates a chance to meet our Board of Trustees, key volunteers, Open Yad Leadership Council and Professional Staff. Each candidate taught us a lesson and delivered a d’var Torah as well as answered our many questions. References were gathered from Professors, Rabbis and lay leaders who provided invaluable information.  The Board voted to extend a contract based on the committee’s recommendation.  
 
Ross hails from Nashville.  He holds a B.A. in Religion from George Washington University. Currently a fifth-year student at HUC-JIR, Cincinnati Campus, he has completed his M.A. in Hebrew Letters. He will be ordained on May 8th and we will be able to attend his Ordination virtually. We will share the link when it is available.  He shares our congregation’s love for music. He sings, plays guitar, piano, and hand percussion.  See his website at https://www.rosszlevy.com to learn more about him.
 
 “Ross represents everything that is good with the next generation of Rabbinic leaders. He's smart, diligent and caring. We are lucky to have Ross join our community.”, says Peter Mackler, Kol Ami Board Chair. 
 
“I am thrilled that Ross will be with our Congregation beginning June 29th and we will have ample opportunities to meet our new Rabbi and get to know him.”, said Rabbi Eger. “His heart is big and he is thoughtful and a scholar too.  I know he will teach us well.”, she said.
 
Thank you to our extraordinary members of the search committee that joined me in this process; Nancy Cohen, Evin Michaels, Loren Ostrow, Leonard Slutsky, Peter Mackler and Rabbi Eger.  
 
We are forming a rabbinic welcome and transistion committee to help our new assistant rabbi meet our congregation and be woven into the life of Kol Ami.  If you have interest in serving on this Task Force, please contact Peter at petermacklerla@gmail.com
 
Here are a few words from erev Rabbi Levy’s personal statement: 
 
“Recent decades have made us all the more aware of the many voices that are notably absent from the larger chorus of Jewish tradition. I strive to build and serve communities that are inclusive of all backgrounds, identities, and orientations. Certain elements of Jewish tradition neglect or, at times, condemn identities we now recognize as sacred parts of the diversity of human life. I hope to provide a safe environment where people feel free to challenge and wrestle with these difficult aspects of our cultural inheritance—to determine as individuals and as a community which might be redeemable through reinterpretation, and which must be supplanted or rejected. This means listening with empathy, teaching with honesty, and recognizing when I do not yet have the necessary tools to meet the needs of those I serve. In such moments I will look to my senior rabbi, co-workers, mentors, ever-expanding network of colleagues, and especially, the voices and experiences of community members, whose wisdom and guidance will allow me to continually learn and grow”
 
We look forward to welcoming Rabbi Levy to Kol Ami and we are excited about this new chapter in the life of our synagogue.
You can reach Rabbi Levy at rlevy@kol-ami.org.
 
Shalom,
Andrew
Andrew Stein
Executive Committee member and Clergy Search Chair
 
Here is a video message from Rabbi Levy:
 
 
 
 
____________________________________________________________________________________
February 8, 2021
 
Dear Fellow Congregants.
 
Our Rabbinic Search Committee has met many times over the past two months to identify, interview and recommend candidates to The Board of Trustees, 
As part of our work, we participated in implicit bias training to insure an open minded and inclusive approach regarding gender, orientation, and race.  In addition, several meetings were held to identify and craft probing interview questions that would offer real insight into the candidates.
The response to our job posting included Rabbis, Cantors, Student Rabbis and Student Cantors.  Eleven candidates were selected and interviewed this past week over a two-day period.  From that group we have identified and recommended our top three candidates to the Board.  All three are Student Rabbis who will be ordained in May, 2021. 
Invitations have been extended and accepted for callbacks.  This is normally an in-person visit but due to COVID-19 will be conducted as a Virtual Synagogue Visit over two days.  These visits will take place over the next few weeks.  The call back round will consist of the meetings below.
  • Virtual Synagogue Tour
  • In-depth follow up interview with the Search Committee.
  • Meet and greet with the Board, Past Presidents, Tzedek Council, Budget and Finance Task Force and other Leadership. 
  • Meet and greet with the Open Yad Leadership Council.
  • One on one meetings with Rabbi Eger, Rabbi Chaiken, Student Rabbi Rabishaw and Executive Director Marca Gay
I want to acknowledge the commitment and valued participation of our Committee Members: Nancy Cohen, Peter Mackler, Evin Michaels, Loren Ostrow, and Leonard Slutsky who have given generously of themselves and their time to perform the sacred work of this search.
Another update will be provided in early March.  If you have any questions, please submit them through the link to our website at kol-ami.org/search
Sincerely,
Andrew SteinSearch Committee Chair

 

January 7, 2021
 
Dear Friends:
 
Once again, your Congregation Kol Ami family wishes you and your loved ones a happy, prosperous and healthy 2021!
 
It is with mixed emotions that we announce to you, that Rabbi Max Chaiken, along with his husband Rabbi Danny Shapiro will relocate out of Los Angeles to continue their Rabbinic work on the East Coast, closer to family. We know this was a difficult decision for the Chaiken/Shapiro household. By the time he leaves us this summer, Rabbi Chaiken will have been with our congregation for five years!
 
Rabbi Chaiken holds the unique position in our congregation’s 28 year history of having served as Rabbinic Intern, Assistant Rabbi, and since his promotion last July, as Associate Rabbi, the first full-time Rabbinic pulpit partner to Rabbi Eger. During his internship and immediately following his ordination in May 2018, Rabbi Chaiken has led the efforts to create and build The Open Yad Project, our unique program for those in their twenties and thirties.  The Open Yad Project is one of the great examples of innovation in our Temple and Reform Movement with an active young leadership council, both spiritual and social programming. In addition, Rabbi Chaiken has served as Musical Director and has taught many classes including Hebrew Homeroom and Intro to Judaism.  In addition, he created the Morning Music and Mediation service on Facebook. 
 
Your Board of Trustees has assembled an Clergy Search Committee to begin the process of identifying a new addition to our clergy team. Our Search Committee includes both founding members of our Temple along with newer members, a true cross section. Our Chairperson is Andrew Stein, and in addition to Rabbi Eger and me, the committee includes, Loren Ostrow, Nancy Cohen, Evin Rolens and Leonard Slutsky representing our Open Yad Project Council.  Our website will keep you informed of the process and our search along with timely email letters.  We are working closely with the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the American Conference of Cantors during this months-long process and we will keep you posted as we near a decision and have candidates to present.  Your input will be vital in this process. Per the requirements the placement process, the names of the candidates and their resumes are considered confidential, and cannot be shared beyond the confines of the search committee at this time.

In the meantime, Rabbi Chaiken will continue his full-time participation with Kol Ami until June 30, 2021. As that date nears, we will have plenty of opportunity to acknowledge and thank Rabbi Chaiken for his extraordinary service to our congregation.
 
If you have any questions regarding the Search process please email Rabbi Eger at Rabbi@kol-ami.org or Peter at PeterMacklerLA@gmail.com. Or you may fill out a form on our website at kol-ami.org/search
 
 
  
 
Sincerely,
 
                            
 
Rabbi Denise L. Eger, D.D                                                 Peter J. Mackler
Senior Rabbi                                                                         Board Chair
 

 
 

Meet the Committee

Andrew Stein (he/him), Chair

Peter Mackler

Nancy Cohen

Evin Rolens

Rabbi Denise L. Eger
Loren Ostrow
Leonard Slutsky

Clergy Search FAQ

Thank you for your interest. This is an exciting time of transition and growth for our congregation!  Below are some commonly asked questions and answers about the Clergy Search process for Congregation Kol Ami. 
 
Why are we engaged in a search?
Rabbi Chaiken notified the Executive Committee that he was in placement for a new position and would be leaving Kol Ami following the end of his current contract in June 2021. After much discussion we determined that it would be in our congregation’s best interest to enter placement for a new Assistant Rabbi  for our congregation. Subsequently we also cross posted the position at the American Conference of Cantors since a significant responsiblity of this position is Music Director.
 
What is the Placement Process?
As members of the Union for Reform Judaism, our congregation utilizes the joint placement process of the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the American Conference of Cantors  Any candidates that we interview will come through the CCAR’s and ACC’s placement processes. This ensures appropriately qualified candidates. By using  our denominational process this ensures that the candidates are members of the CCAR and or ACC.

All candidates will have received the finest rabbinic education in the world at a fully accredited seminary, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, or a comparable institution.

Remains subject to the most stringent code of rabbinic/cantorial ethics and the highest standards of Jewish behavior.

Participates in intensive rabbinic/cantorial mentoring over several years to navigate the transition from seminary student to ordained clergy.

Continues to engage in lifelong learning through CCAR’s  and ACC’s outstanding programs of Torah study, professional development, and spiritual growth.
 
Who will choose the new rabbi?
The Executive Committee appointed a Search Committee comprised of the following temple members: Andrew Stein, chair, Loren Ostrow (past Temple President), Nancy Cohen (active on our Ritual and Education Pillar) and Leonard Slutsky and Evin Rolens (representatives of our Open Yad Project Leadership Council) along with Board Chair Peter Mackler (who has chaired our Ritual and Education Pillar for many years) and Rabbi Eger. After they have vetted and interviewed the candidates they will present choices to our community. The names of the candidates and their resumes are considered confidential, and cannot be shared beyond the confines of the search committee. Ultimately, the Board and Congregation will have to finalize any recommendation of the Search Committee.
 
What is the process?
The committee completed  extensive and in depth questionnaires and applications. The job was posted on the CCAR placement list and the ACC placement list. Because this is an assistant rabbi position we will also be part of the placement process for new rabbis and there is a strict timeline for that.  As of today we have received 7 resumes from 5th year students who are about to be ordained  and 3  candidates who are already ordained and in the field. The cantorial students who are about to be ordained will begin their placement process on January 21, 2021. We anticipate receiving resumes at that time.
 
We are currently going through the resumes and statements and learning more about our candidates.  We will then decide how many we wish to interview.
 
For those that are rabbinical students that are about to be ordained, interviews will take place between Jan 31-Feb. 2. Interview for any rabbis in the field that will take place close to the same time. Interviews for cantorial students that are about to be ordained will also take place during this time frame.
 
Following these interviews, the committee will narrow the field down to likely no more than 3 candidates who will then be invited to a second round more in depth interview process. These will take place between Feb 5- March 1.  
 
This year due to Covid-19 restrictions they may only take place electronically, previously they would have been in person meetings.  This is likely where congregants will have a chance to meet the candidates. We will notify the congregation in advance of opportunities to meet the candidates.
 
How did the search committee prepare for this task?
Rabbi Eger and Andrew Stein met with Rabbi Cindy Enger, Director of Placement and Ms. Barri Waltcher,Placement and Employment Search Services Specialist of the CCAR. They also met with Cantor Kay Greenwald, Director of Placement for the ACC.  The committee reviewed all of the extensive materials of the search process some of which you can see here and  here. The committee thoughtfully prepared questions for the candidates.  The Search committee also participated in an implicit bias training that is required by the Reform Movement for rabbinic searches.   The committee has met several times in preparation for the interviews that are upcoming.
 
How can I give input to the search committee?
On the this page below is a form that you can fill out that will go to our search committee chair. Please feel free to ask questions, make comments and share your concerns! Or email the committee at searchcommittee@kol-ami.org
 
Watch this space for future information!
 
 

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Sun, April 18 2021 6 Iyyar 5781