Friday, February 17, 2006

The New Rabbi

I moved to a new community about three months ago and joined a new shul that formed about a year ago. We knew several people there, it was close to our new house, and we knew the rabbi. The rabbi, I thought, was not the greatest speaker in the world, but he was a good man, well educated, and was theologically on the same wavelength as me and my wife.

Last week, I received a letter informing me that the shul is embarking on a search for a permanent rabbi. It seems that the current rabbi is serving on an interim basis, though this fact was not publicized to make sure that he was treated with respect. He will still be in the running, but we will "try out" at least three more finalists before making the decision.

I don't know why this letter made me feel anxious. Partially it is because I noticed that the attitute toward our current rabbi has changed for both other congregants and myself. For me, it was not a conscious thing, but I could not help but feel different toward the man, like someone who doesn't want to commit emotionally to someone who has a good chance of not being there much longer. And I could sense the same off-key vibe coming from him.

I also wonder if this process will really stress the seams of this brand new shul. Whenever you make a big decision like this, people always have very differing needs and opinions. I can already hear people digging in their heels about the prospective candidates - "There's no way that I'm going to a shul with a rabbi this young", etc., etc.

A few years back I read a very interesting book about this exact topic, called "The New Rabbi" that described the trials and tribulations of a big shul in Pennsylvania replacing a very distinguished rabbi. When I read it, it was a purely hypothetical interest. Maybe it is time for me to read it again.


Blogger Stevin said...

I've been through this before. However, in our case, the new guy was chosen for us. The congregation welcomed him warmly, and he has turned out to be a terrific guy.
Hope all goes well in your situation, as I'm sure it will.

February 17, 2006 3:59 PM  
Blogger Jack Davidov said...

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February 28, 2006 8:00 PM  

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