Clergy Transition Update

A Message from Paul Leshinsky – April 18, 2014

It is with great pleasure that I announce that the Clergy Search Committee and the Temple Beth Or Board of Directors have unanimously approved the contract for our new part time Cantor, Sarah Silverberg, to begin July 29, 2014.  Sarah is a graduate of the Hebrew Union College, Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, and was ordained in May of 2013. She is currently a Chaplain Resident at the VA NY Harbor Health System. We offer our profound thanks to Co-chairs Lee Anne Luing and Vicky Farhi and the members of our Clergy Search Committee for their hard work in bringing Cantor Silverberg to our community.

Sarah is extremely engaging and personable and has many tremendous strengths and gifts that she looks forward to sharing with the Temple Beth Or community. As she has written, “as a cantor, I help to facilitate communication from person to person and person to God through the vehicle of music.” I am eager for you to meet her and so please join me at the Annual Congregational Meeting on May 14th 2014, at 7:30 pm. At that time, the community will ratify the Board’s decision in welcoming Sarah as the new Cantor in our House of Light.

Shabbat Shalom,

Paul Leshinsky, President

 

Sarah Krevsky Silverberg – Vision Statement

At the end of the West Wing episode “Take This Sabbath Day,” Toby Ziegler (the west wing Communications Director) speaks with his rabbi in the sanctuary as the cantor sings Max Helfman’s Hashkiveinu in the background.  As they speak together, Toby motions to the cantor and says, “I think you put her there on purpose.”  The rabbi poignantly responds, “She’s our communications director.”  Few words have ever rung more true to me about what being a cantor encompasses.  As a cantor, I help to facilitate communication from person to person and person to God through the vehicle of music.  To stand on the bimah and pray to God through music; to teach children about their Jewish heritage; to sing gentle, heartfelt music with those who need physical or spiritual healing; each are holy acts that I am honored to engage in as a cantor every single day of my life.

I knew as a young teenager that my dream was to pursue the cantorate.  In those awkward teenage years, I felt most at ease and happiest in my synagogue singing on the bimah.  Seeing my interest and enthusiasm to learn, my cantor gave me the opportunity on Shabbatot throughout the year and on the High Holidays to lead prayers and chant Torah.  Each opportunity thrilled me to my core as I sang and connected to those sitting in the congregation praying.  One particular Rosh Hashanah, a family friend pulled me aside following the service and softly told me how my singing created a space for her to pray.  That moment amazed me.  It humbled me to realize that I could help her to pray simply by singing the music that I loved.  I knew that this special profession of a cantor would never be just a job for me.   I could not wait for the day when I could begin studying to be a cantor and help shape that prayer space every day.  

During my time at Brandeis University, I found a home teaching young children: a passion that would continue during my time at Hebrew Union College and in my student pulpits.  I discovered how incredibly open and eager young children could be in the classroom as they began to learn about their heritage.  Their imaginations allow them to think on a grander and more creative scale.  Because I want to make their Jewish learning experience as positive as possible, being in the classroom with them encourages me to always work to improve my teaching skills.  I first learned just how eager these children could be my first teaching position.  Every Sunday morning I began with a morning ritual in my class of six and seven year old students.  Sitting together on the floor in a circle our class began to create a kehillah k’dosha, a holy community, by saying good morning to each other.  With the help of a stuffed puppet turtle named Moshe, each student individually greeted another student by saying, “boker tov!” and then shared a part of their week with the group.  After a week of leading separate lives, this ritual allowed us to come back together as a classroom community before we began learning together.  To see the joy in their eyes as they remembered the difficult Hebrew words and connected to each other was incredibly special.  Within each of these children I found a bright light in their souls that I want to spend the rest of my life helping to grow and nurture.  

The summer following my junior year of college I worked at two wonderful internships at Jewish nursing homes in the Boston and Philadelphia area.   There I fell in love with working with the elderly.  I found that these adults have open, warm souls.  I only had to patiently sit with them and listen to what they had to say.  My favorite time at the nursing home was when I helped to lead Shabbat morning services.  One resident named Minnie who lived with dementia would close her eyes as I sang and gently move her hand through the air, as if she was conducting the music.  The moment the prayer ended and the music stopped, her eyes would pop open and in a thick Boston accent would shout, “more! more!” Once again, I was struck by the power that both music and prayer had to touch a person.  While I do not know the extent to which Minnie was aware of her surroundings, I do know that we connected to each other through the music and also to God.
           

As a cantorial student, I spent two summers working at NYU Langone Memorial Hospital studying to be a chaplain along with rabbinical students and Christian seminarians.  As a clinical pastoral education student I discovered how integral providing pastoral care is to my cantorial identity.  Sitting and speaking to people who were sick or about to have surgery, spending time with a family whose loved one lay dying, and meeting with hospital staff after the loss of a small child left a profound mark on my life.  Those summers taught me that sometimes providing comfort means simply sitting with a person so that they do not feel alone.  Providing pastoral care to those who need spiritual healing, whether at a bedside in a hospital or within the synagogue walls, became part of who I am as a cantor.

Chaplaincy and pastoral care became an integral part of my identity as a cantor.  Following my ordination, I decided to continue my training to become a certified chaplain through a residency program at the VA Hospital in New York City.  Although traditionally an unusual combination for a cantor, I believe working as a chaplain helps me to strengthen my connection to God and sacred Jewish music.  As I care for our nation’s veterans, I often hear a playlist of our Jewish liturgy in my mind.  The pleading music of Max Helfman’s Sh’ma Koleinu (“Hear our Voices”) enters my head as a patient pleads to God for compassion and mercy.  The comforting music of Nurit Hirsch’s Oseh Shalom comes to mind as I pray for a patient to find peace of mind, body, and soul.  Debbie Friedman’s Mi Shebirach follows me throughout the day as I am surrounded by sickness and suffering.  These pieces of music, along with others, help me to connect with my patients of all different faiths and traditions.  Using the vehicle of music to care for those who are in need of healing has become an important and integral part of my cantorate.

Each form of communication – through music, worship, teaching, and pastoral care – fuels my cantorate.  I want to spend my cantorate sharing the joy that I feel for our Jewish musical traditions, helping to perpetuate and strengthen our Jewish community, and serving as a link in the shalshelet hakabbalah, the chain of tradition.  

 

Special Shabbat Message from Paul Leshinsky, President – April 11, 2014

On April 9th, 2014 at the Special Congregational Meeting, Temple Beth Or affirmed Rabbi Noah Fabricant as our new Rabbi beginning July 1, 2014. The meeting began with prayer led by Rabbi Zlotnick followed by a brief account of Rabbi Fabricant’s professional career. Rabbi Fabricant delivered a brief personal statement and a rather extensive question and answer forum allowing the congregation to hear Rabbi Fabricant’s views on many topics followed. The meeting continued with a discussion outlining the search committee’s selection process, additional questions and answers and a final vote by the community welcoming Rabbi Fabricant. We concluded the meeting with song, celebration and prayers for our community and Rabbi Fabricant.

The room was electric and alive with anticipation as we had close to half our congregational families present at the meeting. All in attendance were impressed with the warmth, intelligence and thoughtfulness as Rabbi Fabricant answered a myriad of questions. The topics included his views on interfaith marriage, reasons for choosing to become a rabbi, how best to engage our youth and all aspects of our community, his current responsibilities at Washington Hebrew Congregation, his leadership style, his thoughts on fundraising and his involvement, his interest  in the engagement of families with young children, his immediate plans for students, and their families, who are becoming B’nai Mitzvot during this first year at TBO, Torah study, his top priorities as our new rabbi, his opinion on rituals participation for non Jewish members, his thoughts on the pew research study, social action and his opinions on Shabbat and Festival services for our diverse membership.

Following the extensive questions and answers, the membership voted to welcome Rabbi Fabricant to our House of Light. Rabbi Fabricant and his wife, Alexandra, and their daughter Lorry are currently looking to move from the Washington DC metro area to Northern NJ.

I am extremely proud of the turnout at last night’s congregational meeting. It speaks volumes to your interest, participation and involvement in the future of Temple Beth Or. It is clear for all to see, the process and ultimate selection of Rabbi Fabricant is very important to our congregants. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for being in attendance. I am truly grateful for your support and your confirmation of the Clergy Search committee and Board of Directors unanimous recommendation of Rabbi Noah Fabricant as our next rabbi.

I also want to thank Roger Gross and Jeffrey Katz, co-chairs, and the members of the Clergy Search committee. Their unyielding drive to identify a wonderful rabbi for Temple Beth Or is unmatched. With very little time to get organized they swiftly moved into action and the results could not have turned out any better. The committee has spent many, many hours together and has developed lasting relationships from the rewarding experience.

Lee Anne Luing and Joan Katz have graciously volunteered to lead the transition committee where they will be responsible for overseeing the events and process for saying farewell to Rabbi Zlotnick and Cantor Hayut while making plans to welcome Rabbi Fabricant and our new part time Cantor to be named shortly. If you are interested in assisting the committee, please reach out to them.

It has been a very busy year at Temple Beth Or. Transition and change have the tendency to make us uncomfortable. With the retention of Rabbi Fabricant and the impending news of our new part time Cantor, excitement and anticipation are evident throughout our facility and beyond.  There is still much work to be done! I urge you to assist and be involved in this process. Please help us sustain the momentum we currently have and build our community for the future.

I look forward to seeing you all on May 14th at 7:30 pm for our Annual Congregational Meeting where I will have more news to share on our Clergy transition as well as many other important topics.

L’shalom,

Paul Leshinsky

 

From Paul Leshinsky, President – March 31, 2014

On Wednesday, April 9 at 7:30 pm, a special congregational meeting will be held. Its agenda is to discuss and gain approval for the selection of Rabbi Noah Fabricant as our next rabbi. 

At the start of the meeting, there will be an opportunity to meet Rabbi Fabricant – and he will share some remarks. This is a terrific time to demonstrate our interest in his arrival and begin the process of extending a warm welcome.

After Rabbi Fabricant leaves the meeting, we will then engage in a dialogue together, hearing information from the search committee and answering questions. 

This is an exciting time for Temple Beth Or. I am enthusiastic about introducing Rabbi Fabricant, a rabbi, I am sure you will find, who is a passionate, thoughtful and energetic leader.

To provide you with additional insight into this special individual, Rabbi Fabricant’s “personal statement,” part of the material candidates provide to prospective congregations is included in this post.

After this important meeting, planning for transition will begin in earnest.  Transition activities, promoting the successful and seamless integration of Rabbi Fabricant into the life and spirit of Temple Beth Or, will be led by Lee Ann Luing and Joan Katz. The committee will also make sure that we say goodbye to Rabbi Zlotnick and Cantor Hayut in a meaningful way.

As we embark on this extraordinary time at Temple Beth Or, I look forward to seeing you at upcoming events and I share in your excitement about the next chapter of our community. 

L’Shalom,

Paul Leshinsky, President

Rabbi Noah Fabricant – Personal Statement

All of God’s paths are kindness and truth. (Psalm 25:10)

I believe in the synagogue. Growing up in a Reform temple, I felt valued. My family had no special connection to Judaism at first, but year after year, the synagogue reached out to me and my brothers, my parents and grandparents, offering something different and necessary to each of us and bringing us together. Along the way, a rabbi, a cantor, and a Jewish educator each invested attention and caring in me in a way that continues to shape my life. Synagogue is where I go to feel God’s presence, to be inspired, to laugh, to cry, to participate in community, and to change the world. I believe the synagogue is the fundamental and essential institution of modern Jewish life. Day by day, I just try to help the synagogue be for others what it has always been for me.

As a rabbi, I am a teacher. I am passionate about sharing and interpreting the wisdom of Reform Judaism; I embrace the endless opportunities for connection that congregational life provides. From sermons to hospital rooms, adult study to preschool play, I help people find joy and inspiration in the Jewish tradition. My own ongoing study nourishes me and assures that my teaching and understanding are refreshed by new ideas. I believe in the power of meaningful study to elevate and enrich the lives of individuals and the community.

Alongside study, I believe in Jewish worship. My earliest love of Jewish life developed through music and prayer. I could not wait to learn guitar, to start imitating my songleading heroes from youth group and summer camp. It still thrills and uplifts me to lead my congregational family in prayer and song. I believe synagogue worship is one of our best opportunities for creativity, spiritual connection, and community building. I always want to be engaged in bringing more people to Jewish prayer and deepening the experience of those who pray.

My approach to community is joyfully inclusive. My role is to guide people in, not turn them away. I believe that whatever a particular person or family needs, there is always the opportunity for a relevant and powerful Jewish experience. Being flexible and thoughtful enough to create those experiences—for all those who seek them and for those who haven’t yet—gives a synagogue community life.

For more than four years I have served as one of several rabbis at one of the largest synagogues in the country. I have gained invaluable experience in working collaboratively, institution building, and managing the wonderfully diverse day-to-day expectations of a rabbi. In the next stage of my career, I look forward to helping lead and build a caring and purposeful congregation—a vibrant community where my wife Ali and I can find our Jewish family and home. I want to pursue a vision of sacred community with fellow clergy and staff and nurture significant relationships with congregants.

I believe that “All God’s paths are kindness and truth.” If I am consistently kind and compassionate and loving, I increase the holiness in my community and beyond. If I value truth—if I am thoughtful and authentic and intellectually honest—Judaism will speak meaningfully to many it otherwise might not reach. As a rabbi, my highest calling is to encourage and join with others in walking God’s paths.

 

From the Clergy Search Committee – Focus Group Discussion Observations – March 5, 2014

Discussion groups conducted with congregants provide insights to help inform the committee’s view of what our congregation values in its community and in its spiritual leader. A series of questions were posed in a structured focus group setting. These questions were designed to gain insights regarding the specific subjects. This is a summary of opinions expressed and are not statistically significant conclusions.

Download Focus Group Discussion Observations

 

From Paul Leshinsky, President – February 28, 2014

The Clergy Search Committee has been hard at work over the past few months. It has completed the first phase of evaluating candidates and has conducted phone interviews and some in-person interviews. The process is long and arduous and we are truly blessed to have Roger Gross and Jeffrey Katz leading the rabbinic search and Vicky Farhi and Lee Anne Luing leading the cantorial search. Their guidance and clear vision based on your input have resulted in truly amazing progress. I am optimistic about the prospects of finding outstanding clergy for our community. Our web site will continue to be updated as new information becomes available regarding our clergy search.

 

A Shabbat message from Rabbi Zlotnick and Paul Leshinsky, President – February 7, 2014

From Rabbi Zlotnick

This week our Torah portion, ParashatTetzaveh, continues the description for the construction of the Tent of Meeting—the sacred place where our ancestors encountered the Eternal. It begins by describing the menorah, the lamps that were lit perpetually, and it ends by reassuring the children of Israel that God will indeed dwell with them in the Tent of Meeting. Our Torah portion begins by describing our ancestor’s sacred space as a House of Light and ends by describing it as a House of the People.

This week, as Shabbat descends, I am filled with gratitude and excitement:

I am exceedingly grateful for the time I’ve spent serving as the Rabbi of Temple Beth Or, the House of Light, of Washington Township, NJ.

I am also filled with profound excitement to share the news that beginning this summer I will serve as the Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Am, the House of the People, in Seattle Washington.

To each of these communities I am indebted—for what has been and for what will be. And for now, on Shabbat, our day to be fully present in the moment, I am thanking the Holy One for all of the blessings in my life.

And my Shabbat prayer is this: May we all be able to encounter the Divine by sharing our light and connecting with others.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Ruth A. Zlotnick

From Paul Leshinsky

Concurrent with rabbi’s exciting news about her move to Temple Beth Am in Seattle, Washington, on behalf of our entire community, I want to express our heartfelt good wishes to Rabbi Zlotnick and to her new temple family. How fortunate Temple Beth Am is to soon experience Rabbi Zlotnick’s unique gifts. 

As we continue on the journey to identify of your next outstanding clergy leader, I am pleased to provide you with an update.  Structured focus groups continue and the information collected is helping to guide the committee through the process.  With about 30 resumes already received we are now conducting both telephone followed by in person interviews with selected candidates.

I encourage you to follow all updates on our web site at www.templebethornj.org and go to the ‘spotlight on’ section where you will see the clergy update section.

I know I can speak for all of us to wish Rabbi tremendous success in her new pulpit and that her legacy of learning, pastoral care and warmth will be forever with us.

L’shalom,

Paul Leshinsky, President

 

From the Rabbinic Transition Committee – January 26, 2014

At this important time in our congregation, it is exciting to be able to report on the significant progress being made in our search process. 

The committee has had an opportunity to review many resumes from highly qualified candidates interested in our rabbinic position.  Schedules have been established and interviews are now underway and are expected to continue in February.

We have had the benefit of incorporating input received at focus/discussion groups conducted with congregants to inform our view as we meet candidates. To ensure there is a shared, common foundation from the beginning, our group discussed the entire search process and decision criteria.  We are fortunate to have the invaluable guidance of several human resource professionals along with veterans of previous search committees.  We had a significant discussion about the difference between a corporate search and a search for the best rabbinic match to lead our congregation. 

Work has also begun on our Cantorial search!  We’ve incorporated input from Cantor Hayut to make sure our application is accurate and benefits from her wisdom.  We plan to submit the final application to the American Conference of Cantors Placement Director in January.

Each member of the search committee is aware of the important role Temple Beth Or plays in our community and in our lives and recognizes the importance of the decisions we are in the process of making. We feel blessed to share in this sacred work.

 

From the Rabbinic Transition Committee – January 25, 2014

Listed are brief biographies of the members of the rabbinic search committee.

Roger Gross

Roger Gross (co-chair rabbinic search committee) and his family have been members of TBO since 2004, since the first of his four boys entered Hebrew School in the first grade.  He is currently Executive Vice President of TBO, and has previously served on the Visioning, Finance, and House & Grounds Committees.  In addition, Roger has served as President of two prior New Jersey based not-for-profit associations.  Roger co-owns several local Commercial Office & Retail Properties, and owns and operates a Commercial Real Estate Brokerage & Property Management firm for more than 25 years.  Previously Roger was the CEO & COO of an Insurance Agency with more than 400 employees operating in four States with more than 50,000 insured customers paying over a billion dollars in premiums annually. 

 

Jeffrey Katz

Jeffrey Katz (co-chair of the rabbinic search committee) and his family have been a part of the Temple Beth Or community since 1990. His adult children became Bar/Bat Mitzvah and his wife Joan became an adult Bat Mitzvah at Temple Beth Or. A lifelong reform Jew, Jeff is committed to its principles and to the continuity of Judaism. Jeff has been actively engaged in prior rabbinic searches at Temple Beth Or and has had multiple board positions including serving as temple President from 2006-2008, a period of significant growth. With senior level corporate experience in strategic marketing and business management in consumer products and financial services, Jeff is now the Executive Director at a nearby, large reform congregation.

 

Roberta Abrams(ex officio)

The Abrams family joined Temple Beth Or in the mid 1970’s and as a child, Roberta grew up in and around TBO.  Upon returning to New Jersey, she rejoined with her own family in 2002. Roberta became involved as a volunteer in the religious school eventually becoming the vice president of education.  Before serving as president of the congregation, Roberta was co-chair of the rabbinic search committee in 2006.  Currently Roberta sits on the boards of the YJCC, vice president of adult programming, and Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, vice president of planning and allocations. Along with her husband, Lewis Paer, Roberta is representing the (almost) empty nester segment of the congregation. 

 

Irene Bolton, Director of Lifelong Learning (ex officio)

Irene Bolton brings to Temple Beth Or, over thirty years of experience as a classroom teacher, family educator, director, workshop facilitator and program specialist. Irene’s energy, enthusiasm and spirituality help to motivate and inspire our students, parents, congregants and teachers to see the value and beauty of lifelong Jewish learning.

Before coming to Beth Or in 2004, Irene held the position of Regional Educator for the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) — NJ/West Hudson Valley Council. During the six years at the Union, she also added to her portfolio the title of Curriculum Specialist for BARJ (Bergen Academy of Reform Judaism), our community high school program—held at Temple Beth Or. Previous to her work at the Union, Irene was Director of Education for thirteen years at Temple Sha’arey Shalom in Springfield, NJ.

Irene combines her interests in prayer, healing and social justice with curriculum development and special programming designed especially for students, their parents and all members of our congregation. She has initiated numerous Jewish learning opportunities for teachers, congregants and children, here and throughout the country—including teaching URJ “Introduction to Judaism”. Irene says that she has the best job – spending time with and educating our children and our families.

Most importantly, Irene is proud to be the mom of two of her own children –Rabbi Scott (married to Rabbi Amy) and Nancy (married to Judah). Irene’s family includes being “bubbe” to Shuli, Shiya, Ziv, Yonah and Caleb — her five beautiful grandchildren. They make her smile and feel happy.

 

Paula L. Cantor

My husband and I have been members since 1970. Both our children went to Religious School, became bar and bat mitzvah and confirmed here.  Our daughter was married in our sanctuary.

I became very involved in TBO after joining. As a board member for a number of years, I held different board positions at different times. Most recently, I have been on the ritual committee and the visioning committee. I have participated in the past three rabbinic search committees.

I’ve been actively engaged in Jewish community life in the county for many years and have been President of NCJW-Mid Bergen Section, Women’s Division of UJA-Federation,   UJA-Federation, (both now known as JFNNJ) and the YJCC of Bergen County.  Leading up to those leadership roles were a wide variety of committee and board positions.  I have spearheaded a number of community-wide educational programs which brought together area rabbis and their synagogues, working in partnership with each other and the Jewish Community Center. 

I’ve co-led about 25 trips to Israel, not as a guide, but as promoter and organizer. The goal of these trips has been to connect people to Israel and to their Jewish heritage, making them stronger supporters of and advocates for Israel and more deeply involved in their lives as Jews.

I have sat on the boards of several Jewish agencies in Bergen County. At present I am on the executive committee and board of the YJCC.

I look forward to the results of the hard but good work that our search committee will be doing. The responsibility is great, but the reward will be GREAT.

 

Sarah Damelin

I’ve been a member since spring of 2010, but I was involved at TBO before that as a substitute teacher in the religious school. Full time, I am a second grade teacher, having come to education with a background in fine arts and a Masters in Museum Education.  At TBO, I am now coordinator of early childhood programming, including the Mishpacha Shabbat activities and the Holiday Happenings.  The young family population at TBO is the group I am most connected with, and the group I represent most closely on this committee.  

 

Phillip Eisenberg

My membership at The Temple began over 25 years ago. My son and daughter attended Hebrew School and became a Bar and Bat Mitzvah at the Temple. For the past three years I have become a regular attendee at Torah Study. In recent years I have served on the Visioning Committee, the Finance Committee and the Nominating Committee.

For over 35 years I was an Actuary at a life insurance company.  My responsibilities, while of a technical nature, also included heading up small and large departments. This included hiring staff and managers and providing for their development. At various times my responsibilities also included corporate long term planning and corporate budget development. I participated on various industry committees.  I retired as Senior VP and Chief Actuary. 

For six years I served on the Board of Directors for the 340 Apartment Condominium where I live including serving as its Treasurer and for the last two years as its President.

 

Vicky Farhi

Vicky Farhi is the VP of Administration and former VP of Community.  She has been involved in multiple areas of synagogue life including social action, development, and adult learning.  Professionally, she is a synagogue Executive Director and the former Co-Director of the URJ Expanding Outreach Team, responsible for launching the Communities of Practice initiative.  At the URJ, she was also the Lead Outreach and Membership Specialist, Co-Director of Small Congregations Networking Group, faculty at HUC Gerecht Institute and ran numerous Outreach and Membership Fellows Training Programs.  She is married to Michael and has two grown sons, Ben and Joel.  The family resides in Hackensack. 

 

Susan Frank

Like many congregants I joined TBO so that my daughter, Jade could attend Religious School in 1990.  In the seven years between her Bat Mitzvah and my son, Brett’s, Bar Mitzvah, I studied to become an Adult Bat Mitzvah.  We also enjoyed Family Services (Jade sang in the Junior Choir).

Post B’nai Mitzvah I continued participating in the TBO community by attending Torah Study and singing in the Adult Choir.  These experiences and my love of learning led to becoming Chair of Adult Learning and serving on the prior Rabbinic Search Committee.  I have found my participation in the TBO community to be challenging as well as extremely rewarding

 

Jordan Harris

My family and I joined the Temple Beth Or community eight years ago. At the time, our older son was in kindergarten and we entered him in the TBO religious school. Last year, we were overjoyed as he was called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah. I currently serve on the board as a trustee where my experience in advertising has been called upon to help develop communications. Professionally, I am the marketing director of a company in the television advertising business and have been involved in executive talent searches throughout my career. My background as a URJ Camp Harlam camper, counselor and divisional director put me in contact with many inspiring rabbis and student rabbis, and I look forward to meeting even more inspiring leaders in our search for the new rabbi of our synagogue. Then we will need to re-focus, as my younger son becomes a Bar Mitzvah in two more years!

 

Lee Anne Luing

Our family changed membership from Beth Haverim in Mahwah to join TBO in 2006. My first position was as a member of the TBO Religious School Committee. I went on to become co-chair and chair of the Religious School and currently serve as VP Education. I have served on the Board since 2008 and volunteered for numerous committees relating to education, finance, and visioning. I live in Saddle River with my husband Tim and our three children ages 15, 13 and 10. I earned my BA from Colgate University and my MBA in finance and marketing from Tulane University. My professional background includes hotel management, sports marketing, meeting & event planning and college professor. I grew up in a reform congregation in the Washington DC area. I celebrated my bat mitzvah and confirmation and was very involved as a Jewish youth attending NFTY camps and spending a NFTY summer in Israel.

 

Paul Leshinsky, TBO President (ex officio)

I have been a member of TBO since around 1998. All three of my daughters have been called to torah for their Bat Mitzvah at Temple Beth Or.

I have been on the Board of TBO for the past 11 years serving in various positions and now as President.

My experience in the administration and development of programs at TBO provide me with the needed guidance to make certain the candidate selected is aware of our culture, history and vision and can exceed the challenges of the position.

In my day job, I am insurance agent specializing in personal, professional and commercial insurance.

 

Kayla McGraw

My name is Kayla McGraw and my family has been a member of Temple Beth Or for 10 years now. I am a junior in high school and I have been on OBOY’s board since I was a freshman. I have also participated in NFTY since I was a freshman. For the past two years I have had chair positions in NFTY, which is a great opportunity for leadership within our NFTY region. I was also a camper at URJ Camp Harlam for five years. This gave me the opportunity to work with some fantastic rabbis and cantors from around our region. I am participating on the search committee to represent the teenage community at Temple Beth Or.

 

Eric Meisner

Eric Meisner and his family live in Montvale and have been members of TBO since 2005.  Eric is a C.P.A. and M.B.A., and has been a financial executive at various companies throughout his career.  He brought these skills to TBO in 2005 when he was asked to become a Financial Secretary.  He also served as Treasurer and Trustee on the Board of Directors.  He is serving on the rabbinical search committee as a non-Board member, and is hoping the next Rabbi (and Cantor) has the ability to proactively market & promote TBO in the community in order to organically grow the congregation back to 400+ families.

 

Elizabeth Noë

Elizabeth has been affiliated with TBO since 1973. Growing up, she attended TBO Religious School, was confirmed at TBO and held leadership roles in the Youth Group.  Elizabeth lives in Woodcliff Lake, with her husband, Chris and has 2 teenage children who are 3rd generation TBO members.  They have attended TBO Religious School since kindergarten and have recently become B’nai mitzvah at TBO.

Elizabeth served on Rabbinic Search Committee in 2007 and on TBO Board of Trustees from 2008-2013 in various roles (VP Welcoming Committee and Trustee). She held active roles on several committees including co-chair of Religious School Book Fair and, most recently, worked on the Comedy Night Live Fundraiser.

Professionally, Elizabeth’s background includes 14 years experience in Human Resources.  She worked as Vice President Human Resources at Smith Barney and Citigroup.

Elizabeth’s family is interfaith and has always appreciated the welcoming atmosphere at TBO.

 

Glenda Orchant

My husband and I have been members of TBO for 2 1/2 years.  We are currently co-presidents of the TBO Social Club. The group has about 25 individual members, comprised of both couples and singles in the 60 plus age range.

I am a retired Jewish educator having served Congregation Albert in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 18 years as Director of Education. I supervised programs that included our Early Education Center, Religious School and Adult Education.  I served on the board of the National Association of Temple Educators for ten years. In addition, I led a conversion support group for adults considering conversion to Judaism for 11 years after training at HUC/JIR in Cincinnati.

My husband and I were part of a small group that established Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook, New York in the early 1960’s.I was involved in the process of hiring clergy and support staff for the congregation.

I have been a member of a reform congregation throughout my life. I was confirmed at Temple Ahavath Shalom in Brooklyn, New York in 1948 and married there in 1953.

 

Sharon Richner

Sharon Richner and her family have been members of Temple Beth Or since 2003 and she has been on the board since 2008 first as Senior Financial Secretary and currently as a Trustee.    Sharon is a Human Resources Professional with 15+ years working at several well-known retailers.   Her children have gone through religious school and B’nai Mitzvah at Temple Beth Or and continue to be an active part of the community through their volunteer activities. 

 

Daniel A. Rubenstein

Dan and his family have been members of TBO since 2008.  Three of his four children went through the Religious School at TBO and became b’nai mitzvah, the youngest in the fall of 2013.  In addition to his roles as parent and congregant, Dan served as co-chairperson of the Visioning Committee, which was formed in late 2010 and met regularly prior to making recommendations to the Board in March of 2012.  Dan’s professional background is principally in finance; he spent over 20 years in investment banking before becoming a venture investor and manager.

 

Mark Samitt

Mark Samitt and his family have been members of TBO since 2005.  Mark is currently a trustee on the TBO temple board.  Mark previously served as Vice President of Resource Development and Financial Secretary for TBO.  Mark also co-chaired last year’s Comedy Night Live spring event and this year’s clergy feedback committee.  Mark currently runs his own operations management consulting firm.  Mark has a background in general management, has led business operations for multiple companies, and has experience in management consulting/project management.  Mark represents the post B’nai Mitzvah family constituency.  Mark and his wife have two daughters who both attended Hebrew School at TBO.

 

Bonnie Schneider

My family and I have been members since of Temple Beth Or since 2007 when the youngest of our three children entered the third grade. Prior to that, my oldest attended Sunday school in the first and second grade programs. Two of my three children have become a Bar Mitzvah with my third currently in Hebrew school in the fourth grade.

I am a licensed medical social worker for twenty five years. I am currently employed at Valley Hospice in Paramus, NJ. I provide end of life planning for our patients who are experiencing a decline in their overall health and function either from a terminal illness, or a sudden onset of a rapid deterioration. It is my role to assess the needs of the patient and their families in relation to their safety as well as their emotional and spiritual well being. In my work, I often link my patients to clergy to provide spiritual counseling in some of the most challenging times in their lives.

The constituency that I represent is the aging population of our community in that meeting their spiritual needs as they become less able to actively participate in the community. In addition, I am also part of the generation of members who find they are aging out of the early childhood community, looking to stay connected as a member in other ways that can meet mine and my family’s spiritual needs.

 

Jamie Schwartz

Jamie Schwartz, along with his wife, Lauren, and their 2 children has been members of TBO since 2006.  The Schwartz family celebrated the bar mitzvah of their son, Matthew, in 2012, and is looking forward to celebrating the bat mitzvah of their daughter, Julia, in September.   In his professional life, Jamie is a co-owner and President of Haley Stuart Group, an executive search and professional staffing firm based in Montvale, NJ.  He has over 20 years’ experience in providing talent acquisition solutions to various industries.  He looks forward to the opportunity to work closely with his fellow search committee members on this important initiative.

 

From the Rabbi Transition Committee – January 21, 2014

This is the first in a series of updates to our temple family regarding the clergy transition process.  

With excitement and sadness, we recently learned that Rabbi Ruth Zlotnick has accepted a position to serve as Senior Rabbi at a large West Coast congregation as of summer 2014.      

During the six years of Rabbi Zlotnick’s tenure she has been a tremendous asset, lifting us spiritually, providing us with inspirational worship services, initiating creative programming and more. She has been our teacher: not just of Torah but of Jewish values. Our new friends across the country are fortunate to have the chance to experience Rabbi’s unique gifts including her knowledge, leadership and counsel. She will be missed at Temple Beth Or.      

Subsequently, we learned that Cantor Regina Hayut has chosen to pursue new professional endeavors and will be leaving Temple Beth Or at the end of June 2014.  The Cantor is looking forward to new career opportunities as well as personal growth for her family. Cantor Hayut has been blessing us with her beautiful voice, directed our junior and adult choirs to help enrich our worship, and has helped shape our young congregants as they became b’nai mitzvah. We thank Cantor Hayut for bringing her soulfulness to our congregation.      

Every ending has a beginning and we are excited to begin the process of finding a new rabbi for Temple Beth Or.  We will be sending out regular information on the rabbinic search process as well as the cantorial search process.        

Our Rabbinic Search Committee has already had its first meeting.  Chaired by Jeff Katz and Roger Gross (past and incoming presidents), we are a diverse group representing the many facets of Temple Beth Or.  The members of our search committee include:      

Roger Gross (co-chair)        Kayla McGraw   
Jeffrey Katz (co-chair)        Eric Meisner   
Paula Cantor        Elizabeth Noe   
Sarah Damelin       Glenda Orchant   
Phil Eisenberg       Sharon Richner  
Vicky Farhi        Dan  Rubinstein  
Susan Frank        Mark Samitt  
Jordan Harris       Bonnie Schneider   
Lee Anne Luing         Jamie Schwartz   

 

Ex-officio committee members:     

Paul Leshinsky, President 
Irene Bolton, Director of Lifelong Learning    
Robert Abrams, Past President 

At our first meeting, we began our sacred work by building relationships and discussing our visions for Temple Beth Or.  We had a lively conversation about the many areas of interest represented by our search committee.  We discussed the overall process of interviews, decision making process, welcoming and integrating our new rabbi.  We also addressed the sequencing of activities involved in finding a new cantor; timely updates will be provided.  Additional committees will be set up to celebrate our clergy’s time with us as well as welcoming and introducing our new rabbi to our congregational family.  We know that saying good bye is as important as saying hello!      

We will be meeting at least once each week, speedily working to find the rabbi that is the most appropriate match for our sacred partnership.      

At our next meeting, we will speak with Rabbi Alan Henken, Director of Placement at the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis).  Rabbi Henken will provide an orientation on the search process.  Using his guidance we will begin the process of screening applications.  We already have a significant number of applicants!    

Check back on the website for ongoing updates.    

 

From Paul Leshinsky, President – January 15, 2014

Dear Fellow Congregants,

After serious conversation and careful consideration, Cantor Regina Hayut has chosen to pursue new professional endeavors and will be leaving Temple Beth Or at the end of June 2014.  The Cantor is looking forward to new career opportunities as well as personal growth for her family.

Cantor Hayut has been blessing us with her beautiful voice for the past six years.  She has directed our junior and adult choirs to help enrich our worship and has helped shape our young congregants as they became b’nai mitzvah and brought them into our larger community. We thank Cantor Hayut for bringing her soulfulness to our congregation.

As we proceed with the search for our new clergy, we remain committed to the Temple Beth Or vision: to be the thriving Reform Jewish congregation in northern Bergen County. With the support of each one of you who create and define our community, we remain optimistic that we will continue to fulfill this vision.

Along with our board, I am pleased to inform you that our education programs will continue to be led by our beloved Director of Lifelong Learning, Irene Bolton. Working closely with Irene will continue to be Morah Shawn Fogel, Youth Director. Our accompanist Tom Mustachio will help ensure musical continuity throughout our worship experience.    

The temple board and I are excited about the future here at Temple Beth Or and you will receive updates as we move forward through both email and on our web site.

Warm Regards,

Paul Leshinsky, President

From Cantor Regina Lambert-Hayut – January 15, 2014 

Dear Temple Beth Or Family,

I would like to share the news with you that I have chosen to continue my professional journey in a new community. Over the past months, I have realized that it is time for me to sing a new song and move into a new phase of my professional life. This decision was a difficult one for me and for my family, but we are filled with a sense of adventure about the opportunities that lay before us.  

For the past 6-1/2 years, along with my family, TBO has been my home and we have enjoyed rich and meaningful friendships, participated in joyful worship, shared in lifecycles, joined in fun and educational programs, laughed and even cried together.  I have grown so much as a cantor with your love and support. 

I want to assure you that as long as I am your cantor, I will continue to serve this community that I love with the same intention and level of commitment. Please know that I will do all I can to help assure a smooth transition for the new clergy who will surely be lucky to lead a community as special as Temple Beth Or.  

As my family and I look to the future, I know that a piece of our hearts will always reside here at Temple Beth Or.  The leaves on the tree of life remembering the joy of my children’s b’nai mitzvah and the memorial plaque remembering my father of blessed memory shall remain a testament to our love and commitment to the wonderful journey that we have shared together.  

Thank you for understanding and supporting my decision to grow and expand professionally as I look forward to new opportunities and new horizons.

Sincerely,  

Regina 

 

From Paul Leshinsky, President – January 8, 2014

Dear Fellow Congregants,

With excitement and sadness, I am writing to inform you that Rabbi Ruth Zlotnick has accepted a position to serve as Senior Rabbi at a large West Coast congregation as of summer 2014.

During the six years of Rabbi Zlotnick’s tenure she has been a tremendous asset, lifting us spiritually, providing us with inspirational worship services, initiating creative programming and more. She has been our teacher: not just of Torah but of Jewish values. Our new friends across the country are fortunate to have the chance to experience Rabbi’s unique gifts including her knowledge, leadership and counsel. She will be missed at Temple Beth Or.

With this event, we begin a new chapter. We have the opportunity to redefine who we are and how we can best serve our congregation and the Jewish community of Bergen County.  To this end, I have asked Roger Gross, our Executive Vice President, and Jeffrey Katz, a past President, to co-chair a Rabbinic Search Committee for a full-time rabbi who will begin July 1, 2014. Roger and Jeff will partner with an outstanding committee who represents the demographic breadth of our community. We have submitted an application to the Central Conference of American Rabbis and anticipate receiving resumes in the very near term.

In addition, we ask you, our congregation, to share your thoughts to help guide this process. You are invited to participate in a discussion group on January 19 or 26 at 9:30 am. To allow these discussions to be effective, space is limited and your RSVP is required.  Please let Beth Felixson know if you would like to attend one of these discussion groups, bfelixson@templebethornj.org. However, please know you can reach out to me, Roger or Jeff at any time during the search process at rabbinicsearch@templebethornj.org.

The timeline to move forward includes receiving resumes throughout January and February. We will then review potential applicants. The committee will conduct phone or Skype interviews with candidates and narrow the field to a few finalists who will be invited to visit Temple Beth Or for in-depth staff and committee interviews. Once completed, a decision will be made by the committee and brought to the Board and congregation for a vote during our annual meeting on May 14, 2014.

This is a time of transition as we say goodbye and todah rabbah (thank you) to Rabbi Zlotnick and we welcome a new clergy partner into our community. It is the mandate of the Board to make certain that the process runs smoothly and the best candidate is identified to help Temple Beth Or thrive and move forward. Please look for additional Rabbinic Search Committee updates on our website.

Warm regards,

Paul Leshinsky, President