Welcome, Rabbi Aaron!

We are thrilled to announce that the congregation voted to approve Rabbi Aaron Meyer as our next Senior Rabbi. His term will start July 1, 2019. He would like to share some words with us; please watch the following video:

 

Senior Rabbi Recommendation

On behalf of the search committee and the Board of Trustees, we are thrilled to recommend Rabbi Aaron Meyer as our next Senior Rabbi, subject to congregational approval. This unanimous recommendation by the search committee was overwhelmingly approved by the Board and presents a clear choice that was the result of an extensive process inclusive of congregational input, rabbinic and staff input, multiple rounds of interviews, verification of his references, and a visit to the congregation he is currently serving.  

We invite you to participate in a special Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 27 at 12:15 pm as the next step in this search process. In order for you, the congregation, to be as excited about Rabbi Aaron as the search committee and the Board, we want to share his impressive accomplishments and background.

Rabbi Aaron is in his eighth year as an associate rabbi at Temple De Hirsch Sinai (TDHS) in Seattle, a 1,700 family congregation with three full-time pulpit rabbis, two full campuses, and extensive community outreach. As a result, he has often taken on a role that would more typically be expected of a senior rabbi. In his time there, he has:

  • Led multiple services weekly, including High Holiday services, as the sole rabbi for each campus;
  • Led active and diverse Torah Study, adult education, and Introduction to Judaism groups;
  • Coordinated a diverse music program inclusive of traditional and contemporary styles of worship;
  • Maintained excellent pastoral relationships with congregants of all ages.

Indeed, one of Rabbi Aaron’s unique strengths is being able to engage congregants throughout each stage of life. He regularly:

  • Leads Tot Shabbat and serves as the rabbi for TDHS’s preschool and its families;
  • Tutors b’nai mitzvah students and helps families prepare for these milestone s’machot;
  • Leads services and discussion groups at at senior living facilities;
  • Earned a Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Washington;
  • Delivers relevant, meaningful sermons and messages tailored to diverse audiences.

Rabbi Aaron has distinguished himself as a leader in the Seattle area as well as within the national Jewish community. He strongly believes in inclusiveness as a preeminent Jewish value, welcoming interfaith families and engaging in the ongoing work of LGBTQ+ equality. He is committed to social justice/social action and has an impressive track record of meaningful impact through his work:

  • Spearheading the TDHS Campaign for Gun Responsibility, which received a 2015 Fain Award from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism;
  • Testifying before the Washington legislature as a representative of the Jewish community on issues of criminal justice reform, gun responsibility, and LGBTQ+ equality;
  • Traveling to Washington, D.C. with Mazon as one of 13 inter-denominational rabbis interested in protecting SNAP benefits while supporting a just Farm Bill and curbing veteran hunger;
  • Creating a meaningful, inspiring response to the Tree of Life shooting inclusive of diverse faith and civic leaders for more than 4,000 people;
  • Co-chairing the Faith Action Network, Washington State’s largest interfaith coalition, where he was intimately involved in development and fundraising.

All of Rabbi Aaron’s references were glowing about his qualities as a listener, his warmth as a person, his high character, his desire to be involved, and his devotion to his duty as a rabbi. Throughout the search process, Rabbi Aaron has demonstrated his sense of humor, thoughtfulness, caring nature, humility, dedication to learning and growing, and emotional intelligence. In other words, Rabbi Aaron is a mensch.  

Of Rabbi Aaron’s leaving TDHS after eight years, Senior Rabbi Danny Weiner stated the following:

For any worthy rabbi of considered ability and healthy ambition, there comes a time to move onward and upward, charting one’s own course and implementing one’s own rabbinic vision for an eager community. That time has come for our friend, colleague and teacher, Rabbi Meyer. We are immensely proud that Rabbi Meyer’s growth and development as a rabbi within our Temple family can serve another community in need of leadership at this crucial time for American Jews.

Born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, Rabbi Aaron is looking forward to returning to the area. Prior to the rabbinate, he attended The Ohio State University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science. While in rabbinical school, he also participated in the U.S. Army Chaplain Candidate Program. He is married to Rabbi Emily Meyer and has two kids, Evelyn (3) and Eli (two months).

Just as we’re excited about Rabbi Aaron, his interest and enthusiasm for Temple is obvious: we were the only congregation to which he applied. He says:

I am honored and humbled to be considered for the position of Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel. The strength of Jewish life in the South Hills is eminently clear, demonstrated by Temple’s thoughtful and committed lay leadership; inspiring staff and rabbinic team; and the warmth of the many congregants I have had the pleasure of meeting. Emily, Evelyn, Eli, and I are so excited about this opportunity to make our home in Steelers Country, building upon Rabbi Mahler’s impressive legacy and helping Temple Emanuel remain the central address for inclusive, meaningful Jewish community.

The search committee and Board of Trustees believes Rabbi Aaron Meyer is the right fit for our congregation as Temple Emanuel moves from strength to strength and prepares for future generations. With his ability to inspire congregants and community members, along with all of his wonderful qualities, he is a leader among the next generation of Reform rabbis. We will be honored to have him!

Hope to see you at the Congregational Meeting!

David Weisberg                   Michelle Markowitz

President                              Settled Rabbi Search Committee Chair

Rabbi Candidate Visits

The SRSC is thrilled to announce that three highly-qualified rabbinic candidates are coming to visit Temple Emanuel over the next month.

Congregants are invited to participate in one-hour sessions with each rabbi. Please check your email for details. If you did not receive an e-mail, please contact Michelle Markowitz at mrm0530@gmail.com for more information.

Reviewing resumes

We are pleased to announce that there has been a high level of interest in our Senior Rabbi position. Over the past month, we’ve had the opportunity to review resumes from a number of highly-qualified and impressive candidates. Applicants have applied from across North America and even overseas. It has been very exciting for the SRSC to see so much interest in Temple Emanuel!

During October, we will be conducting video interviews for a number of these applicants. In addition, it is very likely that we will see additional applicants throughout this month.

While we are not there yet, eventually several of these rabbis will be coming to Pittsburgh, where our staff and community will have an opportunity to meet with them. So, stay tuned for more information.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to contact Michelle Markowitz.

Our Application Is Submitted!

The SRSC is thrilled to announce that on August 23, 2018, Temple Emanuel’s Rabbinic Application was submitted to the Reform Movement’s Rabbinical Placement Commission. This formally initiates our recruitment process for our new rabbi with the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).  All potential Reform rabbinic candidates must be members of CCAR and apply through the Placement Commission.

The application enables Temple to outline its values, philosophy, and history.  It also provides a significant amount of information to candidates regarding our community, our existing staff, and what Temple Emanuel, the South Hills, and the Greater Pittsburgh region can offer. The CCAR will post the application on its website, where it will be available to be viewed by all CCAR members.

The 22-member SRSC used your responses to the congregational survey (over 200 responses were received) and the more than 30 Focus Group meetings that were held (attended by approximately 150 congregants) to guide the application.  We began the process of compiling the information collected on June 5 and met several times throughout the summer.  The result is a user-friendly, colorful, marketing-style piece that not only answers a set of required questions, but also provides an applicant with a good sense of our congregants’ desires, expectations, and hopes for the future.

Based on your feedback, we determined the three qualities we are seeking in a new rabbi are to be warm and caring, open-minded and inclusive, and inspirational.  The priorities of the new rabbi include: strengthening relevancy of Judaism and making Temple part of the rhythm of congregants’ lives, building relationships and connections to create kehila kedoshah, and collaborating with staff, lay leadership, and other community partners.

We also set out Temple’s goals, which are to become a model of audacious hospitality, to strengthen Temple for future generations, and to maintain our fiscal responsibility.  The application sets forth the most important issues confronting Temple, which include creating a strategy for Temple to be a leading Reform congregation, engaging congregants throughout all stages of life, and healing relationships and building bridges with interfaith families.

In addition, we named our greatest challenges. These are creating a community of meaningful engagement among all of our congregants, making Temple an inclusive and welcoming home for interfaith familiesincreasing engagement in worship and education programsdefining our relationship with the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish community, Israel and the world, defining the best ways for our youth to participate in Jewish activities outside of Torah Center and J-Lineand exploring the role of music at Temple.

We also pointed out Temple’s greatest strengths, which are our diverse and dynamic congregational community, our ECDC and Torah Center Programs, our building, our many talented volunteers, and our convenient location in the South Hills.

We expect to begin receiving resumes from applying rabbis very soon and hope to receive the bulk of our submissions by the end of September.  Our plan moving forward is to evaluate all applications received, and then schedule Skype interviews with candidates.  We will keep you updated as this exciting process moves forward.

If you have any questions, please direct them to Michelle Markowitz, Search Committee Chair at mrm0530@gmail.com (412) 512-3513.

Focus group and survey results

The SRSC would like to thank everyone that attended a focus group and/or completed the survey for your input. In all, there were 212 congregants that responded to the survey and over 100 congregants participated in neighborhood focus groups. The information gathered from this survey is consistent with the thoughts shared at the neighborhood focus group meetings.

The following presentation summarizes some of what we have learned from this survey, including primary goals for Temple, top five qualities desired for our next Rabbi, and other pertinent information related to our search for the next settled Rabbi. It can be viewed online at: SRSC Survey Presentation.

We appreciate everyone’s input.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the committee at rabbisearch@templeemanuelpgh.org.

Congregational Survey

We are excited to be representing the congregation as the Settled Rabbi Search Committee. Our goal is to find a rabbi that best meets our needs as a congregation. As promised, we will be looking for your input into what that person should be like. To that end, we invite all members who are currently in the 6th grade of Torah Center or older to participate in this survey. Our hope is the survey, in conjunction with the focus groups that are scheduled to take place throughout the rest of April and May, will provide the information we need to represent the wants and needs of the entire congregation during this search. Please click the link below to participate. You may also forward this to anyone in your household who meets the criteria above.

We ask that all responses be completed by Monday, May 14 at midnight.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PCCK5VY

If you’d prefer to fill out a paper copy of the survey, please feel free to pick up one from the Temple office.

Thank you in advance for your feedback and we look forward to hearing from you.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the the committee at rabbisearch@templeemanuelpgh.org.

 

Neighborhood focus groups

Focus On the Future

As the search for a new settled Rabbi at Temple Emanuel has started, we are looking for your input. For this reason, we invite all congregants (over the age of 12) to participate in a focus group in your neighborhood!* At these focus groups, a member of the Settled Rabbi Search Committee will facilitate a structured discussion about Temple’s future. You will be receiving a personal invitation by email and phone; but in the meanwhile, please mark your calendars and plan to attend one of the following:

Crafton/Carnegie/Bridgeville/McDonald/Oakdale – At the home of Stacy and Jared Tafeen on Sunday, May 6 at 4 p.m.

Peters Township/Washington, PA – At the home of Adit and Oded Green on Sunday, May 6 at 7 p.m.

Downtown Pittsburgh/East End/ Mt. Washington – At the home of Meredith and Dave Cohen on Sunday, May 6 at 7 p.m.

Sewickley/Coraopolis/Imperial/Robinson – Hosted by Sandee Connors-Rowe at the Anchor & Anvil Coffee Shop in Coraopolis on Thursday, May 10 at 10 a.m.

Nevillewood Area – At the home of Irene Luchinsky on Monday, May 14 at 7 p.m.

Bethel Park/South Park/Whitehall/Pleasant Hills – At the home of Robin and Steve Hausman on Sunday, May 20 at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Dormont/Brookline – At the home of Mary Cothran on Sunday, May 27 at 2 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon (15216)/Greentree – At the home of Rikki Hommel and David Weisberg on Sunday, May 6 at 4 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon (15228 and 15234) – Three Options:

At the home of Claire and Mel Vatz on Wednesday, May 16 at 7 p.m.

At the home of Sarah and David Levinthal on Tuesday, May 8 at 7 p.m.

At the home of Lori and Dan Rothschild on Tuesday, May 15 at 7 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon (Cedarhurst Area)/Scott Township – Two Options:

At the home of Beth and Matt Schwartz on Monday, May 7 at 7 p.m.

At the home of Pauli and Jason Green on Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon (Virginia Manor) – At the home of Rita and Stuart Zolot on Wednesday, May 2 at 7 p.m.

Upper St. Clair – Three Options:

Hosted by Rob Goodman at the Upper St. Clair Rec Center on Monday, May 14 at 7 p.m.

At the home of Susan and Richard Hommel on Thursday, May 17 at 11 a.m.

At the home of Georgia Kent on Sunday, May 27 at 2 p.m.

In addition to these focus groups, the following will be held at Temple and are open to all congregants over the age of 12:

  1. Sunday, May 6 at 10 a.m.
  2. Wednesday, May 23 at 7 p.m.

*Note:  In conjunction with these focus groups, we request that all congregants over the age of 12 also complete the anonymous Settled Rabbi Search survey, which will be distributed via email. A paper version will also be available at Temple Emanuel’s office.

Focus on the Future

The Settled Rabbi Search Committee (SRSC) held its initial meetings and a timeline is now in place. We would like to share with the congregation a brief overview of what we have accomplished and what our plans are, going forward.

In March, we defined the process for a congregational self-study. As a result, the SRSC is launching “Focus on the Future” and a congregational survey. As part of Focus on the Future, we plan on hosting focus group meetings in your neighborhoods beginning in late-April. There will also be opportunities to participate in focus group meetings with people of similar interests and backgrounds that will take place at Temple Emanuel in May. Through these meetings, we hope to have a better understanding of what the congregation thinks is the most important issue our new Rabbi will face, dreams and visions for Temple Emanuel, and more. So if you see a phone number on your caller ID that you do not recognize, please consider answering it because it may be a member of our committee reaching out!

The information we gather through the Focus on the Future Project and a congregational survey will be used to shape our rabbinic search and will provide information critical to complete an application required by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) as part of the search. In conjunction with this application, committee members are working together with Temple Emanuel’s Communication team to create a vibrant, fun video that showcases Temple Emanuel, its location, and features our youth. This video is slated to be completed by August so that it can be posted on our website when we submit our application.

We hope to then receive resumes from applicants in August/September so that the first round of interviews can be completed by October/November. If all goes as planned, we will select a Rabbi in January/February.

As Michelle Markowitz stated in our initial blog post, our primary goal is to listen to the input of our congregation. Please be sure to reach out if you have anything you’d like to share or have any questions along the way.

Rabbinic Transition blog

Settled Rabbi Search Committee

Michelle Markowitz, Chair

Spring is here, which means it’s now time to turn our attention to the search for a rabbi to lead Temple Emanuel beginning on July 1, 2019.  Thank you to all who responded to the request for volunteers. It is my pleasure to introduce to you the members of the Settled Rabbi Search Committee (SRSC, for short): Melissa Bihary, Adam Brufsky, Michael Bleier, Sandee Connors-Rowe, Rob Goodman, Pauli Green, Steve Hausman, Susan Hommel, Georgia Kent, Judy Kirklin, Sarah Levinthal, Kate Louik, Sally Lebowitz, Marsha Morgenstern, Dan Rothschild, Beth Schwartz, Linda Scott, Samara Steinfeld, Mel Vatz, David Weisberg, and Rita Zolot.

This group is already hard at work on the first phase of this search, which is to determine what we, as a congregation, are looking for in a rabbi. Our primary goal is to LISTEN to you, so please be on the look out for information in the very near future about how YOU will be able to provide your input. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me (mrm0530@gmail.com or 412-512-3513), or anyone else on the committee with questions.

We will continue to update the congregation through this blog; information will be posted elsewhere as well.