Sign In Forgot Password

Rabbi Search Update

Search Committee Co-chairs

Michelle Bannon  -

Steve Stein -


January 17, 2020

To date we have received two resumes from interested candidates. On December 24th, preliminary phone interviews were held with both applicants. A follow-up video interview with one of the candidates was then held on January 3rd with members of both the Search and Selection committees present. The committees ultimately decided not to pursue either of these candidates as all agreed they would not be a good fit for our congregation.

Rabbi Kenter has been extremely helpful, both in reviewing the application we submitted to the Rabbinical Assembly and by guiding us through the search process. He feels strongly that Bnai Israel is an active and engaged congregation with much to offer to many rabbis looking for a new home. He reminded us that we are still early in the 'search season' and many rabbis do not begin the process until January.

We have been encouraged by Rabbi Kenter to attend Interview Week in early February to meet and interview interested graduating rabbis. This would also be an opportunity to network with others while demonstrating the seriousness of our pursuit and showcasing our congregation. Two or three of the Search Committee members are planning TO travel to Interview Week, which will be held in New York this year.

We feel confident that we will receive additional resumes and assure you that we are going to do our utmost to attract the best, brightest and, most importantly, the rabbi who will be the best match for us.


  December 20, 2019

We have received resumes with letters of introduction from two potential candidates.  The Committee will be conducting preliminary phone interviews with each candidate in the next 7-10 days. That will probably be followed by a longer interview by video call.  The Committee will continue to accept and review additional resumes and will keep the congregation updated regularly.


November 8, 2019

Putting Bnai Israel on Paper:

Applying to the USCJ Rabbinical Placement List

The Rabbinical Search Committee met on Monday, October 28th with the main goal of finalizing our application to USCJ for the Rabbinical Placement List.  We reviewed the most recent draft of the detailed application line by line, striving to characterize our synagogue and the larger community in the most positive and accurate light. Rabbi Kenter was present and helpfully guided us in the revisions, suggesting changes in language to make Bnai Israel appealing to prospective applicants, indicating what we are looking for in a new rabbi and what makes us a unique Conservative congregation in coastal North Carolina. Our application is almost complete and should be ready for submission in the next week.

We will meet again on November 4th for one final scan of the application and to discuss the questionnaire which will be sent to the congregation soon.


October 18, 2019

In recent weeks, the Search Committee conducted three focus group sessions to assess what are some of the most important skills or traits that the congregation wants in the next rabbi. We also had the families of the One Room Shul House participate in a modified version of the process.   The total number of participants in a focus group was 66.

Knowing that a rabbi's role is a composite of many tasks and responsibilities and that no one person can be expected to be able to excel at them all, the committee asked for insight from congregants on what was most important to them.

For the adult focus groups, participants were asked to first to prioritize 14 different options that were important to them as an individual, and then they were asked to identify the top five for the congregation as a whole.

By an overwhelming two-to-one margin, participants expressed the desire to have a rabbi that is a "Pastoral Leader" - this rabbi sees his/her core duties as a counselor, healer, and spiritual leader. The next four items in the top five were as follows:

  • Congregational Leader - This rabbi helps keep the focus on big picture future items, always leading toward new purposes and goals. Change is a major theme. This is strategic in focus.
  • Teacher - This rabbi sees teaching as the main task. Divrei Torah are lessons; classes are presented often and in many places. The rabbi works with educators on school issues.
  • Inclusive Leader - This rabbi has a vision of engagement for 21st century families which include but not limited to interfaith, LBGTQ and special needs.
  • Leader of Worship - Tefilla is the core of this rabbi's work -- leading it, teaching it, focusing on it. Congregants sense an emphasis on spirituality.

Participants also shared with us items that were not listed that were important to them.

For the One Room Shul House, the students and their parents shared that the following are most important to them: Tikkun Olam, Leader of Worship, Teacher.

 A more detailed description of the outcomes will be on the website very soon. In the coming weeks, the committee will use this valuable information to develop a survey that will be shared with all congregants.

As always if you have questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to a member of the Search Committee or leave your thoughts in the Suggestion/Comment box.


A Letter to the Congregation

October 4, 2019


Dear Fellow Congregants:

In addition to the regular updates that have been included in the weekly newsletter, the Search Committee wants to share with you some of the considerations that are goings into its work.

As you may know, the Board discussed, and the Search Committee agreed, that joining the USCJ, North America's Conservative movement's largest organization would provide the congregation with the broadest reach in finding rabbinical candidates who will be a good fit for us.  There is a normal cycle for rabbinical searches:  most rabbis begin their contracts on July 1.  We are coming into this process off-cycle; and with USCJ's assistance, we will be able to proceed in a manner that provides us many more candidates to consider than we would otherwise have.  The cost of joining USCJ is quite reasonable, and the value will greatly exceed the amount we will pay in dues.  For example:

  • Our initial outreach to USCJ brought us Rabbi Barry Kenter who will continue to assist and guide us through our search process based on his many years of experience and numerous contacts around the country.
  • The USCJ hiring process will assist us in identifying our core principles for our next rabbi and will enable us to reach out to Rabbinical Assembly (RA)  rabbis who are either not under contract with another synagogue for next year or are new graduates of several well-known seminaries.  If we have not identified the right candidate(s) by March 15, 2020, we can open our search to those not part of the RA, effectively losing nothing but gaining the largest pool between now and then.
  • Membership in USCJ provides B'nai Israel with many resources in addition to providing essential professional executive search services.  We will be provided access to the best practices o items such as leadership training, youth programs, educational resources, and other useful tools to help us with our operations.  We encourage you to learn more about USCJ on the organization's website.

In recent years, the Rabbinical Assembly has adopted policies that recognize same-sex marriage between Jews, allow for LGBTQ membership, permits non-Jewish spouses on the Bimah, and accepts "family memberships" to interfaith couples.  While the RA has not yet adopted a policy recognizing interfaith marriage, it is an active discussion that the RA continues to review.  We believe we can be a better catalyst for change by being members of the USCJ, rather than by not being part of the conversations calling for change.

In closing we want to remind you that throughout this search process we need  your help.  We were pleased tha over 40 congregants participated in our first focus group on Shul Day.  For those who could not attend that day, another focus group will be held this Sunday, October 6, from 10:30 - 11:00 am.  Please continue to offer suggestions in the box in the foyer, to keep an eye out later this fall for a congregational survey, and please stay engaged since ultimately you will have the final vote on our next rabbi

Thank you for your patience and support through this very important process.  We wish you a happy, healthy, peaceful and sweet new year.

The Rabbi Search Committee

Michelle Bannon & Steve Stein, co-chairs; Jon Alper, Noa Alper, Jane Birnbach, Alan Gerberg, Mide Medress, Ruth Ravitz-Smith, Barbara Waxman and Barry Weiss.


September 27, 2019

The Search Committee met on September 25. We have scheduled a 2nd round of Focus Groups for Sunday, October 6 from 10:30 to 11:00.   Feedback from the initial set of focus groups on Shul Day was very valuable. It is enabling us to come up with a profile of the new rabbi who will be a good fit for Bnai Israel Congregation.

We are also getting ready to complete our application for membership in the USCJ . Membership will allow us to broaden our pool of rabbinic candidates. Additionally, we will be creating a congregational questionnaire regarding the most important qualities of the new rabbi that congregants would like us to keep in mind as we go through the search. Information from all the Focus Groups will contribute to the creation of the questionnaire.

Remember that you can always email Michelle Bannon or Steve Stein, the two co-chairs of the Search Committee. And the blue Suggestion Box in the synagogue lobby is always available for your ideas about the search.


Update this content.

Tue, May 26 2020 3 Sivan 5780