Weekly Updates


On behalf of the Governing Committee we are providing an update on the status of the Rabbi search process.  To date, the Committee has received seven resumes.  Each resume was reviewed and discussed by the Committee.  Upon review by the Committee three resumes were rejected due to the candidate not meeting the minimum requirements for the position.  Initial Zoom screening was done by Jay, Sheri and Logan on four candidates and two were passed along for full review by the Governing Committee.  The other two were rejected after Zoom screening.  As a reminder, the Governing Committee is made up of 13 members of B’nai Tikvah.  

The final two candidates had follow up Zoom screening interviews with the entire Governing Committee.  Each interview took over 2 ½ hours.  The candidates demonstrated substantial knowledge, insight and professionalism in the way they responded to our questions.  The Search Committee will be meeting this Sunday, November 29 and pending that discussion, we will advise the Congregation as to how we are proceeding.  All interviews and “meetings” will be via Zoom due to the travel restrictions imposed by the Rabbinical Assembly because of the Corona-19 virus.

Questions used in the interview process were developed based on feedback received from many members of the congregation.  Here are the themes that were highlighted:


Leader & Leadership

Warm and Engaging

Teacher Leads services that are spiritually and intellectually thoughtful

Attention to congregants

Able to skillfully balance tradition and change

Accepting & relatable

Excited to know and work with children

Involvement with community

Willingness to build community and membership


Again, a general discussion is planned with the entire Rabbi Search Committee this coming Sunday.  Based upon that discussion and feedback we hope to be able to move forward to the next steps.  You will be kept informed of the progress along the way.

As always, please direct any questions or inquiries to the Rabbi Search email



Now that the Jewish Holidays are behind us, we are again in full active mode.  The Rabbinical Association questionnaire has been completed and was submitted last Tuesday, Oct. 13.  As of this date we have received three resumes for our open Rabbi position.  We are early in the process and we can expect the volume of applications to pick up in the coming weeks.  Many Rabbis are just now coming out from under the demands of the holidays and turning to think about potential new jobs. Part of the process for Rabbis seeking new positions is to inform their current congregation that they are seeking new employment.  This allows their current synagogue to make arrangements should the Rabbi find another position.  

The application allows prospective candidates to get a good feel for our synagogue, its culture and goals, growth history, financial status, cost of living in the area, schools (Jewish and public), Kosher restaurants, and many other areas of interest needed when making this type of decision.   We had numerous internal groups looking at and providing input to the responses.  The final document was synthesized by Josh Charlson and Marc Bassewitz.  It contained all the information and supporting pictures to highlight the benefits that B’nai Tikvah offers.  A hearty Yasher Koach to Josh and Marc as well as the members of the Strategic Planning Committee.

This final document was then shared with the Governing Committee for final review and submission.  The passive process is one of waiting for Rabbis to apply.  Another part of seeking a new Rabbi is for members who know a well qualified Rabbi to approach them to see if they have any interest.  Knowing and having a relationship with a dynamic Rabbi can help move the process along.  

We will continue to provide updates.  Remember the website to submit questions is still active. Rabbisearchcommittee@bnaitikvah.net 


As we prepare for the High Holidays, the RSC has been busy gathering information to complete the application.  It is the intent to have the application completed, reviewed and ready to submit shortly after the holiday season.  The Strategic Planning Committee has done a terrific job in gathering pertinent information to answer the many required questions. Part of that process is to provide information about B’nai Tikvah so the prospective candidates have an appreciation for us.  We want to put the best foot forward to feature the benefits of BT and what we can offer to the Rabbi.  Incidentally, living near Chicago with access to kosher food, Jewish day schools, and a vibrant Jewish community is a very positive draw for many Rabbis coming from smaller communities.  

There are well over 40 main questions along with subsets of questions that require careful thought and answers.  Marc Bassewitz and his Strategic Planning Committee team have compiled much information that is in the process of being entered into one master document that Josh Charlson is editing.  As soon as that is completed the Governing Committee will undertake a final review.  Once it is sent off, prospective candidates will have access to our document and can begin showing their interest in BT by sending in their resumes.  As we begin to gather these, an initial review will take place to determine next steps. 

Rabbi David has provided good insight into the search process and highlights some of the areas in the questionnaire that prospective rabbis will look at first.  He has also offered to assist in our resume reviews as well as providing insight on crafting appropriate questions for us to ask.  We are getting excited to begin fielding our initial candidate submissions. Everyone has been pulling together to ensure this process is of the highest standard possible.  

The email address for congregants to ask questions and provide their input remains open.  As a reminder it is rabbisearchcommittee@bnaitikvah.net 

We will be celebrating Rosh Hashana towards the end of this week.  Due to the holidays these next few weeks, the committees will not be holding formal meetings until after Yom Kippur.  

L’Shana Tovah to one and all.


There was a joint committee meeting this past week with the Governing and Strategic Planning Committees.  This was to allow both groups access to participate in discussions with Felicia Lev and Ariana Hershon.  The information provided was both informative and useful as we continue to determine what B’nai Tikvah is and want to be as well as what we expect of our new Rabbi.  

There were discussions on the school and how the parents and students are managing with the coronavirus pandemic.  Managing to arrange High Holiday services and keeping the process moving forward with all hands on deck working together.  There was a discussion about the role of the rabbi as it relates to overseeing BT.  Job descriptions and structure will be an on-going process.  This completed our interviews with the senior staff and clergy.  

The last Town Hall meeting took place with Ritual as the topic.  It had over 76 people on the zoom meeting site.  The discussion and questions asked showed how deeply the congregants feel about specific areas of Jewish Law and Customs.  Also discussed were interfaith marriages, Torah reading and expectations of B’nai Mitzvahs.  The discussion put the spotlight on what questions should be considered as part of the interview process.  It is worth noting that there continues to be larger proportion of senior members actively participating on these zoom meetings.    Also important to note is a smaller cadre of younger families who are active and have children in the school programs.  This group is the nucleus of the future for B’nai Tikvah.  There is a need to re-institute B’nai Tikvah’s Ritual Committee.  This group works closely with the clergy regarding prayers and services as well as reviewing Jewish customs and how they play an important role in our Congregation.  More will be coming about this committee.

This coming week the required questionnaire will be started with the goal of completion by the second week of October.  Once this is completed and submitted, resumes should start to come in.  The interview process is important in that while we are looking at the candidates for our spiritual leader, the candidate is looking at BT as well.  How we position ourselves and our synagogue are important to keep in mind.  There are benefits that our community offers.  Jewish schools, kosher food and restaurants, a  large vibrant city, and a safe and beautiful suburban community.  

There have been few email messages left on the Rabbi Search Committee email address.  Responses are provided usually within one day.  Based on the inquiry made, we try to identify the person in the synagogue with the most experience in that area to provide the response.  It is our hope that our responses have been well received.  Please continue to use that email for any inquiries concerning the search process.


By the time this Rabbi Search Committee (RSC) update is printed, the three Town Hall meetings will have been completed.  The first Town Hall was on Adult and Child Education, next was Community Involvement, and lastly Ritual.  There were over 60 people on each of the first two Town Halls, and we reached 80 participants on the final call, which was our most spirited yet.  Discussion on Zoom as well as comments made provided wonderful insight and feedback in gathering information.  This will be very useful as the committees begin the questionnaire for submission in the search process. Thanks to everyone who participated for offering your perspectives and for the civil tone and respect that was evident throughout the discussions. 

The Governing Committee has been meeting weekly.  The team supports gathering information from the staff at BT.  The team has started by interviewing Hazzan Hery and then Rabbi David the following week.    Each provided insights on the qualifications that the Rabbi should demonstrate.  Rabbi David provided guidance on Jewish law and Jewish customs and how they are similar yet different.  It became clear that it will be important to re-engage the Ritual Committee.  A new Rabbi will expect the congregation to have an active and well-functioning ritual committee.  Rabbi David has exceptional insight into the process of hiring a Rabbi and has offered to be a resource as we move forward.  Felicia and Ariana will also be interviewed this coming week to complete the internal staff data gathering.  The committees continue to communicate with each other by sharing information and keeping each other informed.

We have been very pleased with the questions and comments coming in through the Rabbi Search Committee email address.  The site is monitored daily.  Responses and follow up communication are managed through the various committee members with experience and knowledge relating to the specific inquiry.  Please continue to send your comments to rabbisearchcommittee@bnaitkvah.net.  We believe it is important that people feel they are heard and included in the process.  Finding a new Rabbi for all the families of B’nai Tikvah is a challenging and a time-consuming process.  We are taking a deliberate approach to ensure we find the best match for Bnai Tikvah.  

Finally, in last week’s update we introduced members of the Governing and Strategic Planning Committees. This week, we share the list of our full Search Committee, who represent a broad sampling of our membership. Thanks to all of them for helping in this important process.

Becky Berger
Carol Tasky
Elyce Goldstein
Estelle Lakier
Lauren Klayman
Bruce Zarkowsky
Caryn Adelman
Cindy Lieb
Dan Ehrmann
Darren Kastin
David Schoeneman
Debbie Nathan
Ed Jacobs
Edward  Mendelson
Florence Utay
Florie Sagett
Gary Hokin
Helene Herbstman
Herb Linn
Ira Spiro
Jack & Bertha Diamond
Joshua  Felman
Laura Schaffer
Lauren Hoffer
Lyle Perkins
Michael  Harris
Michael Brown
Michael Melber
Mindy Kalchman
Nancy Goldstein
Natalie Weiss
Penina Frankel
Philip Bretton
Scott  Fagan
Sheri Bassewitz


The Rabbi Search Committee is in the initial phase of self-reflection on the type of community that B’nai Tikvah aspires to be and the characteristics of a rabbi who will be a “best fit” for the congregation.

We have established the following structure for the committees involved in the process:

  1. Strategic Planning Committee – General guidelines and forecast for our direction
  2. Governing Committee – Organization and governance of the search process
  3. Search Committee – Review and prioritization of qualities and character desired in a candidate, interview of qualified candidates, and final selection

Strategic Planning has begun initial meetings to review results of the focus groups conducted in 2019 and other information to help guide the Search Committee in its representation of the congregation and definition of a “qualified” candidate.

The Governing Committee establishes a structure and defines and assigns responsibilities as needed throughout the process.

            Subcommittee Chairs:

Communication:  Harvey Felman and Josh Charlson

Town Hall Meetings: Jeff Rabin and Andrea Berlow

Organization and Communication with Candidates:  Cindy Levin and Debbie Maxwell

Hospitality: Hilda Moss and Scott Goldstein

Benefits Package and Contract:  Marc Bassewitz and Michael Levinsohn

Town Halls

Everyone is encouraged to participate in the Town Hall Zoom meetings. We were pleased to have a lively discussion with 60 attendees at our initial meeting on August 25, on the topic of Education.   Subsequent meetings will be occurring on Thursday, August 27 (on Community Involvement) and Wednesday, September 2 (on Ritual) at 8:00 pm.

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