Rabbinic Transition/Search

To contact us, write to: [email protected]

April 26, 2017 

Please join us on July 6, 2018 as we welcome with much excitement and joy… Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman and family!

We’ll begin at 6 p.m. with an open house/barbecue, followed by Shabbat evening services at 7:30 p.m., and a delicious oneg after that!

We hope to see everyone at Rabbi Ilana’s first Shabbat service as the next chapter in BHSS’s history begins!!

December 4, 2017 – Search Update

The Beth Haverim Shir Shalom Rabbinic Search Committee is overjoyed to announce the unanimous selection of Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman to become our new settled rabbi, beginning on July 1, 2018.  This recommendation comes with the full support of our staff and was approved by a special meeting of the congregation on December 4, 2017.

Rabbi Ilana comes with over 7 years of experience as a solo rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City, Utah where she has served since 2010.  Prior to that, she served as assistant rabbi in Buffalo, New York.  She received her undergraduate degree from University of Virginia and went on to study Hebrew at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel.  She was ordained in 2007 from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rabbi Ilana is a third generation rabbi. Her grandfather Rabbi Sylvan Schwartzman (z”l) was at the forefront of Reform Jewish education and her father Rabbi Joel Schwartzman has served as an Air Force chaplain and a congregational rabbi.

Rabbi Ilana has lived in places far and wide, including Germany, Greece, Israel and many states within the U.S.  She is now seeking to put down roots with her husband, Art Kieres and their 6 month-old daughter, Sabine.

Rabbi Ilana views the contemporary synagogue as a home for prayer, spirituality, social action, study, leadership and engagement and is devoted to these pursuits in her rabbinate.  In addition to a love for Judaism and Jewish texts, she has a great love for people and their stories.  Her joy lies in the interplay between intellectual Judaism and personal relationships.  She also believes that music is a powerful vehicle through which we can connect to each other and God. Her impressive resume, coupled with her warm, approachable personality and generosity of spirit, make her a wonderful fit for BHSS and we are confident her leadership will be a blessing to our community.

We very much look forward to partnering with her to write the next chapter of our congregation’s history and welcoming her family into our community.

M’Chayil L’chayil, May we go from strength to strength…

Jen Cole & Michelle Sherry, Co-Chairs BHSS Search Committee

November 1, 2017 – Search Update

It is an exciting time for the BHSS Rabbinic Search committee, as we have received resumes from an impressive group of candidates. We are currently interviewing, through SKYPE and in-person, those of interest, and continuing the process with those we feel could be our next settled rabbi. As the search begins to narrow down, there will be opportunities to meet the candidates, and we will continue to provide updates here.

September 1, 2017 – Search Update

We are happy to announce that the search for the BHSS’s next settled rabbi is underway!  We posted our application on August 1 and are very pleased with the response this far. We are currently in the process of reviewing resumes and will begin Skype interviews before the High Holidays, with in-person interviews likely starting in October. We will continue to provide updates on the website’s Rabbinic Search link. The committee will be co-chaired this year by Jen Cole and Michelle Sherry, and includes Alison Axelrod, Gary Buchalter, Stacey Coyne, Gary Garbus, Marin Greene, Deborah Klein, Nancy Levene, Michael Kassover, Sophie Pavon, Debbie Royal, Linda Schwartz, Jack Schulman, Harvey Weinberg and Lori Yanowitz.

February 7, 2017 – Search Update


On behalf of the Beth Haverim Shir Shalom Settled Rabbi Search Committee, I write to let you know that despite conducting a full and thorough search process, our committee has not yet been able to find a rabbi with whom we can enter a sacred partnership.

We understand that this news may come as a surprise, and perhaps a disappointment.  The creation of a covenant between a rabbi and congregation is not something to be taken lightly.  Please know that the fact that our search has yet to identify our next spiritual leader does not imply that we did not have qualified applicants, that our community is unattractive or that our committee was indecisive.  Quite the contrary, we met many remarkable men and women who proudly serve Reform congregations and our candidates repeatedly told us that our synagogue has an impeccable reputation.  Each and every rabbi who visited remarked that the spirit with which they were met by our staff and congregants alike was uniquely warm and welcoming.  As for the search committee, I can assure you that I have never served with such a dedicated, devoted, tireless group who have our congregation’s best interest always in mind.  I will ask you to please understand, simply, that this happens, each and every year and it is not uncommon for a successful search process to take two years.

The search process is far more complicated than meets the eye.  There are many congregations seeking new rabbis and many rabbis searching for communities, with many different timelines coinciding.  Just as we are not merely looking at a checklist of skills and experiences listed on a resume, the rabbis are not simply considering the congregation itself but a host of geographical, personal and other factors as they assess the best “fit” not only for them but their families.

At our last meeting we unanimously decided that the best path for our congregation at this time is to rehire Rabbi Barry Diamond so that he may continue to serve as our interim rabbi for a second year.  Rabbi Diamond has been a tremendous blessing to our community this past year and we are confident that his staying another year will allow us ample time to complete our search and by this time next year we will have identified our next spiritual leader.  We have learned much about the process and about ourselves this year, and having done so we are in an even better position to conduct the search in the most efficient manner.

Please know that while we remain in transition, we are not on “pause” mode.  With the leadership of Rabbi Diamond and Cantor Perper, BHSS will continue growing, praying, learning, doing, supporting and healing each other, our community and the world.   We will continue moving forward and being a congregation that is a leader within the Reform movement.

Let me end by expressing my overwhelming gratitude to our clergy and staff, those who serve on the search committee, and all of you who have participated in our process, supported us and entrusted us with this very important task.  We ask now for your continued trust and patience.

May we go from strength to strength…

Jen Cole, Chair, BHSS Rabbinic Search Committee

December 11 – Search Update

Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in the online rabbinic survey and the rabbinic roundtable discussions that were held throughout the fall. Both the survey and the meetings yielded meaningful information and we are grateful to have heard from so many of you. Please know that the information you provided has informed our decision-making thus far and will continue to guide us as we move deeper into the search process to find the next settled rabbi of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom.

We are very fortunate to have received 29 resumes from rabbis expressing interest in being the next senior rabbi of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom. After months of reviewing resumes and personal statements, and virtually “meeting” interested applicants via SKYPE, our committee has invited a number of candidates for onsite interviews. These rabbis were selected because of their impressive experience, rapport with the Search Committee and compatibility with our congregation’s values and vision as expressed by our community in the survey and roundtable discussions.

During the initial on-site interviews, the rabbis’ visits are brief yet exceedingly busy. The visits typically include an opportunity to meet individually with each of our staff members, a formal interview with the Search Committee, and time to share meals together. Additionally, the rabbis may be asked to conduct a learning session with groups of adult and/or youth learners.

We are now finishing up with the initial visits and are in the process of narrowing the field even further by identifying those finalists who we believe are the best “fit” for BHSS and as such are worthy of serious consideration. As rabbis return for second and third visits, there will be opportunities for the broader congregation to meet the finalists. Please stay tuned for notices regarding these opportunities and if you are in the building when a candidate is visiting, please take the time to say hello and extend the warm and welcoming atmosphere for which our community is known.

We will continue to provide updates, but if you have questions or thoughts please don’t hesitate to reach out. Please know that we are as excited to introduce our congregation to the candidates as you are to meet them, and we are working through the process expeditiously yet with the care and due diligence that is necessary for this sacred work.

We expect to finalize our recommendation to the Board of Trustees in early 2017. As always, if you have questions or thoughts, don’t hesitate to reach out.

September 13 – Search Update – Meet the Committee

Our search committee has been meeting to review the resumes we have received so far, and more are still arriving.  Initial interviews have also begun.  We are thrilled to have a rich cross-section of the community dedicated to doing this  important work:

Jennifer Cole, Chair
Harvey Weinberg
Gary Buchalter
Gary Garbus
Marin Greene
Alison Axelrod
Deborah Klein
Debbie Royal
Stacey Coyne
Sophie Pavon, Youth Representative
Lori Yanowitz
Michael Kassover
Jack Schulman
Linda Ellman Schwartz
Michelle Sherry
Nancy Levene, President, ex officio
Cantor David Perper, ex officio
Educator Rebecca McVeigh, ex officio

July 4, 2016 – Transition Update

Tomorrow our application goes “live” on the website for rabbis who are looking for full-time positions beginning July 1, 2017.

We are working with the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) http://www.ccarnet.org/about-us/, the union that Reform rabbis belong to.  The CCAR, along with the rabbinic school, HUC-JIR (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion) http://huc.edu/about are part of the Union for Reform Judaism/URJ – https://www.urj.org/.  As a Reform Congregation, BHSS is a member of the URJ and one of the many benefits of membership is our access to rabbinic candidates.  The CCAR office has posted our application and will forward resumes to us.  Because over the summer months many rabbis are on vacation or on staff at camp, etc. we do not expect to have many resumes right away; at this point we anticipate that the bulk of resumes will arrive in September.  However, we will keep you updated on our progress.  As always, please feel free to email the committee chair, Dr. Jennifer Cole, using the link at the top of this page.

July 3, 2016 – Transition Update

We welcomed Rabbi Barry Diamond in a big way as he and Cantor Perper led a wonderful service on July 1.

RBDwithCakeThank you to all the BHHS members and friends who joined us to welcome Rabbi Diamond and Shabbat, and stayed for an SRO dinner!  In the coming days and weeks, please call or come by (and of course, be there on Friday nights) to get to know our newest spiritual leader! To make an appointment to meet with Rabbi Diamond, you can email the office: [email protected].

  May 29, 2016 – Transition Update

Rabbi Barry Diamond met with many of our congregants of all ages and stages today!  Thank you to everyone who came out to say “hi” and to Rabbi Diamond for spending some of his Memorial Day weekend with us.  Please come and help us welcome him on his first official day at BHSS on Friday, July 1.  Remember that services begin at 6 p.m. and a barbecue for all will follow at 7 p.m. Prospective members are also invited to come for services and dinner as Rabbi Diamond begins his year with us.

April 19, 2016 – Transition Update

com_ms-rabbi-barry-diamond_200We are looking forward to welcoming Rabbi Diamond, our interim rabbi (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017) to BHSS.  His first official day is July 1 and since this is a Friday, we will celebrate Erev Shabbat together with a service beginning at 6 p.m. A congregational barbecue will follow at 7 p.m.  Please RSVP by calling the synagogue office at 201-512-1983.

What’s next? We have a Transition Team in place, headed by Debbie Falkow, to help Rabbi settle into the community. Watch for opportunities to meet with him and perhaps to host him for a Shabbat dinner or share your favorite places to get bagels or pizza.

Finding our settled rabbi has also begun with Jen Cole heading the search committee. We will be conducting information gathering sessions over the next couple of months to learn what is important to you and what you envision for BHSS for the future. Thanks for all your support in this important work.

December, 2015

In the late fall of 2015, Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, who has served our congregation with dedication and distinction for 15 years, informed us that he was accepting a position as senior rabbi at a large congregation in New York City.  While we are certainly saddened to see him leave our congregational family, we look forward with great anticipation to the adventure that awaits us as we select a new settled rabbi for Beth Haverim Shir Shalom.

Below is an excerpt from Rabbi Mosbacher’s Temple Topics article for our May/June issue. A link to the issue that includes the full article can be found by clicking here.

“The congregation I came to serve—Beth Haverim—was a strong and spirited 140 member-family community… The congregation I am leaving, Beth Haverim Shir Shalom, is an even stronger, more spirited 415 member-family community… This is a congregation that other congregations in Rockland and Bergen counties look to as a model of warmth and engagement. This is a congregation that synagogues across the Reform movement think of as innovative and focused on excellence. Beth Haverim Shir Shalom is a congregation that has so much strength in its foundation, and that strength will carry you through this time of transition.”

We are grateful to Rabbi Mosbacher, his wife Elyssa, and their sons Ari and Lev for the joy they have brought to our sacred community, and wish him well in his new position.