Volume 48 Number 28
                    Produced: Wed Jun  1  5:22:16 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Appointment of a New Rav (6)
         [Nadine Bonner, Anonymous, Josh BAckon, Carl Singer, Orrin
Tilevitz, Stephen Phillips]
         [Martin Stern]
Kevod HaBriot
         [Mark Symons]
Minyan / shul
         [Carl Singer]
Smoking on Yom tov
         [Tzvi Stein]


From: Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...>
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 10:35:28 -0400
Subject: Appointment of a New Rav

Four years ago, our shul found itself in a similar situation. We had a
search committee that reviewed resumes, conducted preliminary interviews
and finally selected two candidates. Each candidate visited the shul for
two shabbosim to meet the community and give a couple of drashas and

At the end, a shul meeting was held and each member family was given a
vote.  Since we are Jews, there were three factions--one for each
candidate and a third group that didn't like either candidate and wanted
to reopen the search.

The ground rules at the meeting were that anyone could speak supporting
the candidate they prefered, but no one was allowed to say anything
negative about the other candidate. I am pleased to say this was very
successful, and only one person had to be reprimanded, although people
were very passionate in expressing their points of view. We also had a
vote on reopening the search, which was defeated.

The rabbi we hired has been a tremendous asset to our shul and our
community at large. None of the supporters of the other candidate or the
third faction subsequently left the shul or criticizes the Rav (not that
I have heard, in any case). In fact, our shul has grown and drawn new
members from nearby shuls because of our rabbi.

Yes, this can be a process filled with acrimony and lashon hora, but I
have seen myself that it doesn't have to be. And it can still include
the entire membership of the shul

Nadine Bonner

From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005
Subject: Appointment of a New Rav

We currently have a similar problem in our Shul in London, after our
esteemed Rav officially retired a short while ago (our Shul, by the way,
is of similar style to yours in Manchester).

We have actually been looking (unsuccessfuly to date) for a new Rav for
about 3 years now. The method we have employed is to elect an advisory
subcommittee to investigate and recommend potential candidates. This
subcommittee was elected by the whole community at the AGM and not just
by the executive officers (and in fact at our AGM to be held very
shortly, the whole subcommittee are resigning in order to get fresh
blood involved). This way, as the representatives of the whole
community, the subcommittee have the authority, respect and blessing of
the whole community to proceed in their task without reporting back each
time a name is suggested etc. Any shortlist they produce is recommended
to the executive committee first and if appropriate, the candidate is
invited to meet the kehilla. Yes, we too sometimes feel that we are kept
in the dark about what is happening, but discretion is a necessity and
as our own representatives, we have trust in the subcommittee that they
are acting in our best interests. If the process is made hefker, then
nobody comes out smelling of roses (or besomim)

From: <BACKON@...> (Josh BAckon)
Date: Tue,  31 May 2005 12:29 +0300
Subject: Re: Appointment of a New Rav

And be suspect of letters of recommendation as per the joke below:

A certain American congregation can't stand their rabbi so when another
congregation makes inquiries if he's available, the shul president
writes a glowing letter of recommendation. "Our rabbi ? He's like Moshe
Rabbenu, he's like Shakespeare, he's like the Ribono shel Olam !!". With
a letter like this how can they go wrong so the new shul hires the rabbi
sight unseen. Comes the first shabbat and he gives his drasha
(sermon). He's a total disaster. Right after havdala they fire off an
angry letter demanding to know why the first shul lied. The president of
the first shul replies. "We didn't lie. Like Moshe Rabbenu he not only
stutters, he also can't speak a work of English; like Shakespeare, he
knows nothing about Yiddishkeit; like the RBSO? DER RIBONO SHEL OYLAM IZ

Josh Backon

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 07:24:16 -0400
Subject: Appointment of a New Rav

I don't know if there's a "perfect" process but our shul has recently
gone through a Rabbinic Search and I thought they did it very well.  Our
Rabbi is retiring after 36 years and making Aliyah -- so we knew in
advance and had time to plan.

1 - A committee was established and a process was also established.

2 - Open (all members) meeting were held to hear opinions on what people
wanted in a Rabbi -- Since neither Moshe Rabbainu nor Superman was
available, criteria were established.  (i.e. a Young Dynamic Rabbi with
40 years experience available 24 x 7 on a part-time salary .... :)

3 - The Committee contacted the various "sources" for Rabbaim and (I
believe) also advertised.

4 - Questionnaires and filters were established.  I'm told over 30
candidates applied.  The committee kept everything confidential -- even
as a board member I knew that they were making progress, but nothing
specific -- this is important as some candidates have other positions.)

5 - 3 "finalists" were selected and each spent a Shabbos with us.
(Remember this is a shiddach not just a job application.)

6 - On that Shabbos, the candidate and his wife joined us for an open
Malavah Malka, the candidate gave the drosha Shabbos morning, gave a
shiur Shabbos Afternoon, his wife gave a Shabbos Shiur for women.  And
Motzei Shabbos we had an open question & answer session.

7 - We then had an open meeting where all members could comment.  At
that meeting the executive board (which is our shule is about 20 people)
then voted to select a candidate (closed ballot.)  The general
membership (which includes the executive board) then voted to ratify /
reject the selection (closed ballot.)

8 - Select Members of the search committee then negotiated with the
selected candidate.

Carl Singer

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 14:29:34 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Appointment of a New Rav

Martin Stern asks how to get a shul executive committee to permit member
participation in the selection of a new rav; the current scheme,
supposedly to prevent "lashon hora and machlokes" would permit no member
input other than an up-or-down vote on the executive committee's

In my experience, this sort of paternalistic arrogance is not atypical
of large shuls, or of any organization where the guiding principle seems
to be what was described to me as the "golden rule"--he who has the gold
makes the rules. It is wrong because it takes time for any new rav to be
accepted, and that acceptance is more likely not to happen if the
membership has effectively had no voice in the selection.  A shul I used
to attend tried to foist just this procedure on the members, and when
enough people squawked, we got three candidates to choose from, although
the process up to that point was opaque.  And just that level of
participation really got people thinking about what was important to
them in a rav; the man who was selected is still there 20 years later
and has been very successful.

While you don't want to be involved in the details--in my experience,
the vast majority of applicants will be spectacularly
unqualified--interested members ought to have a voice in setting out
what you are looking for in a new rav; after the initial screening of
resumes, the process ought to be opened up to all interested members;
and the entire membership should be voting, after a suitable prubbe, on
the top two or three candidates, not just one.

How to get there depends on such things as just how arrogant and
high-handed the people who run the shul are, how many plebians are
concerned, and what kind of leverage they have--e.g., could they and
would they up and leave, and what effect would it have if they did?  The
first step might be for a group of like-minded concerned members to
approach whoever makes the final decisions--or perhaps, instead, the
executive member most likely to be sympathetic--express your concerns,
and ask for a meeting.

From: Stephen Phillips <admin@...>
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 11:09:46 +0100
Subject: Re: Appointment of a New Rav

Last year we had the task of appointing a new Rav. It was the first time
in 40 odd years that our Shul has had to so. Some Shuls with a higher
turnover of Rabbonim have more experience in such matters, but for us it
was something very new.

Our Shul has an Executive Committee comprising the Chairman, Vice
Chairman, Financial Representative and two Wardens (myself and a
colleague). The Board of Management agreed to allow the Executive
Committee to search for a suitable candidate and then report back with
its recommendations. The Board were happy to trust us with this task,
knowing that we had the best interests of the Shul uppermost in our

My personal view was that we should try if possible to select only one
candidate as I am not happy with what I believe they call in the
commercial world a "fashion show." Any potential candidate who spent a
Shabbos with us, but whose present Shul did not know he was looking
elsewhere, might have been put in an embarrassing position if he were

As it happened, we were able unanimously to agree on the one
candidate. The Board accepted our recommendation, whereupon the
candidate spent a Shabbos with us prior to an EGM to allow all the
members of the Shul to vote on acceptance.

Our biggest concern was that the one thing worse than not being able to
find a suitable replacement for our Rav was to make the wrong decision
altogether and find someone who turned out to be unsuitable.

Baruch Hashem, it would seem we made the right decision on our new

Stephen Phillips


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 11:23:35 +0100
Subject: Re: Kaddish

on 31/5/05 10:08 am, Jack Gross <jbgross@...> wrote:
> The issue of 'ribbui kaddishim' to serve the desire of the aveilim is
> trivialization, not 'tircha'.  The flip side of the coin (omitting
> kaddish when there are no "chiyyuvim" in attendance) also tends to
> trivialize it.

Not merely trivialisation but, as the English saying has it,
"familiarity breeds contempt" or, to put it in slightly different words,
should we not discourage excessive repetition of kaddish by people who
do not understand what it means or signifies but superstitiously think
that saying as many as possible is some sort of filial piety.

> The obligation for Kaddish rests with the Tzibbur, not the aveil, if
> you grant that the one saying Kaddish does so only as a Shliach
> Tzibbur.

I realise that we are talking at cross purposes since I do not accept
Jack's premise in the first place, as he should have realised from my
original words (m-j 48#20):

"I think he has made a fundamental error in his concept of the chiyuv to
say kaddish. Apart from the one I mentioned, which is part of the seder
hatephillah, like chatsi kaddish and kaddish shaleim, and therefore an
obligation on the tsibbur as a whole, there is no obligation whatsoever
that any other kaddish be said."

Martin Stern


From: Mark Symons <msymons@...>
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 20:55:51 +1000
Subject: Kevod HaBriot

>      as has already been explained by another contributor, kovod
>      habrios does not mean respect for someone else. It means saving
>      **oneself** from acute embrrassment.
> I am not sure.
> Rashi, Berakhot 19b (dibbur hamat-hil "Kol milei derabbanan"),
> establishes the principle that davar shehu midivrei soferim nidhe
> mipenei (a rabbiniv\cal commandment is superseded by) kevod haberi'ot.
> The Yerushalmi uses "kevod harabbim" as a synonym for "kevod haberi'ot,"
> so I am not sure that Mr. Mett is right on target.

Maybe Kevod HaBriot means saving EVEN ONESELF from embarrassment (Kal
Vachomer [how much more so] others).

Mark Symons
Melbourne Australia 


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 08:04:03 -0400
Subject: Minyan / shul

> And more pointedly, some shuls might not get a minyan if they depended
> only on their members.  And some people davening there pick that
> particular shul precisely to try to ensure that there will be a minyan
> there.

It's not the shul that needs a minyan but the community.  

What the shul needs is to pay its electric bill and that doesn't happen
min hashamayim.

There are, indeed, people who go out of their way to help make a minyan
(say davening at a more distant shul or at a less preferable time.)  But
there are many people who USE whatever shul is most convenient for them
-- do they not have an obligation to help support that shul.

Carl Singer


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Tue, 31 May 2005 08:01:39 -0400
Subject: Re: Smoking on Yom tov

> From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
> On a somewhat humorous note, I dream of going up to a yeshivah bochur
> who is smoking, asking for the pack of cigarettes, and noting, "I don't
> think this brand has a hechsher."

There's actually some truth to that.  In Israel there was some
discussion a few years ago about whether cigarettes could contain
chometz.  There was some consideration at the time whether the grant
hechsherim to certain brands as "kosher l'Pesach".  I don't think it
ever went through though.


End of Volume 48 Issue 28