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Rabbinic Transition

Welcome to the Temple Emanu-El Rabbinic Search page.  This is where you can learn more about our committees, our processes, our timeline, and our journey to find our next rabbi.  This page will keep you apprised about the search and we expect will be updated regularly.

The committees are working hard on behalf of the entire congregation in this important work in shaping the next chapter in Temple Emanu-El’s long history.

 Transition Update: September 22nd, 2022                                                                                            

We are pleased to report that the Interim Rabbi application has been submitted by the Search Committee to CCAR. The application has been posted to the CCAR job board and is available to view by any member of CCAR.

As our search progresses, we will continue to provide updates.

The Send-Off committee is also hard at work planning a variety of Spring 2023 events to honor and say thank you to Rabbi Meyer. The goal is to create several events where every Temple Emanu-El congregant will find their way to say thank you to Rabbi. If you would like to be involved in the planning or a part in the execution of one of these events, email

 Transition Update: August 31st, 2022                                                                                            

August was a busy month for both the Transition and Search teams.  For the Transition team, chaired by Claudia Kaufman, the online congregational survey (sent to approximately 850 Temple members) came to a close in July with a strong response received from Temple members. Here are some of the survey findings:

When asked what members loved about Temple Emanu-El, the strongest responses were around the culture of our community 

• The Temple is warm, welcoming, friendly, compassionate
• The community is inclusive, tolerant, not pressured, and supportive 
• There is a strong love of music in our meaningful, worship services
• Universal love for Rabbi Meyer, his leadership, sermons, empathy, and kindness
• The breadth of programming, the Neighborhoods, social action and the progressive nature of the Temple were also listed

As many of the above were mentioned as the Temple’s strengths, survey responses also included several challenges facing the Temple today, including:

• Continuing to grow membership, especially bringing in younger families
• Re-engaging our community after Covid
• Remaining financially sound as well as safe and secure
• Recognizing that change and the rabbinic transition will be difficult for many

When asked what were the most important personal qualities they were looking for in our new rabbi:

When asked about the most important professional qualification they were looking for in our new rabbi:CB42DA6C-30EC-46D4-B522-BF936A6CD4E4.png


And lastly, when asked what we wanted to make sure we kept during the rabbinic transition, the clear answers were:

• The warm and welcoming nature of the community, 
• Many of our existing programs and traditions - Neighborhoods, Tashlich, 2nd night seders, etc.  
• Our music

With regards to the qualities we wanted to keep in our rabbi: 

• Intelligence, warmth, sense of humor, good speaker, engagement with youngsters, relationship with the congregation and pastoral care
• Maintaining meaningful, joyous worship services with relevant sermons

The Transition Team then compiled and presented the findings of the Listen and Learn focus groups, an analysis of the survey results as well as all raw data to the Search committee for their role in first completing the CCAR application for our Interim rabbi.  

The Search committee, chaired by Sharon Orfaly, has been meeting to review the CCAR application, gathering data regarding the Temple and working on crafting their answers to key questions on the application. The results passed on from Transition to Search have been instrumental in the completion of the Interim Application. The team’s goal is to submit the application to CCAR within the next two weeks.

  From our Temple President: July 25, 2022                                                                                          

Dear Temple Family

As I settle in to my presidency, I wanted to provide you with an update on our Rabbi search.

Changes in rabbinic leadership are a natural cycle in all congregations. Rabbi Meyer has shared his spirit and wisdom with the Temple Emanu-El community for more than 30 years, and now we have the opportunity to learn and grow with new leadership. FAQs regarding Rabbi Meyer’s departure and our search can be found here on this site, and  will be updated as things progress.

Our Transition Discovery team has just wrapped up their congregational outreach through listen and learn sessions and an online survey. Their findings have been thoughtfully organized and are being handed over to the Search Committee for use in the Interim and Settled Rabbi applications.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Transition Discovery team for their due diligence and commitment to understanding our congregation’s concerns and desires as we move forward. This team has spent countless hours on their mission.

Transition Discovery Team
Claudia Kaufman, Chair
Dan Rosen
Judith Emanuel
Ann Laaff
Deahn Leblang
Nicole Sherf
Eric Reines
Andrea Liftman

The Search Committee is composed entirely of members of the congregation. Qualities that were of the utmost importance when choosing Search members were: diligence, commitment to inclusion, discretion, community-mindedness, professionalism, collaboration, relevant experience and the flexibility to commit the time required to complete an effective search.

Search Committee
Sharon Orfaly, Chair
Erin Cullen
Bob Goldman
Jeff Goldstein
Nate Goldstein
Lisa Nagel
Terra Samuels
Jerry Somers
Jamie Yomtov

Over the coming weeks, the Search Committee will be working to complete the Interim Rabbi’s application which will be submitted to Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) in early September.

There may be members who are questioning why we have chosen the Interim Rabbi model. I can assure you, this is common practice among synagogues that are replacing long-serving rabbis. The Interim Rabbi will serve as a bridge between Rabbi Meyer’s departure and our next Settled Rabbi. The Interim Rabbi guides the congregation and the Board, fostering change and transition after a long-standing rabbi leaves. The Interim Rabbi will perform all duties of the regular congregational Rabbi.

An Interim Rabbi affords us the opportunity to thoughtfully conduct our search for a Settled Rabbi without the immediate pressure of a deadline. We want to ensure that Temple Emanu-El puts our best foot forward in not only our search for our next Rabbi, but also in how we present our congregation to potential candidates.

Please check our website for updates on the process and always feel free to reach out to me at should you have questions, concerns or comments.

Wishing you all a relaxing and enjoyable Summer.

Gail New

  July Update                                                                                                                                           

During the months of May and June, the Transition Team conducted a series of ‘Listen and Learn’ focus groups with several demographic groups making up our Temple Emanu-El family.  Conducted via Zoom, the groups that met included samplings of New Members, parents of Religious School young children, Seniors, Long-term members, Interfaith families, and Empty Nesters.

The groups varied in size and the conversation was always lively, candid, and informative. Our thanks go out to the members who agreed to be part of these focus groups – as the name implies, we Listened and we Learned!

Following on the heels of the focus groups, the Transition Team created the congregation-wide online survey emailed in late June. Currently still open for responses (deadline is July 11th), the survey was sent to all Temple adult members (over 18 yrs) for whom we had email addresses.  The survey, like the focus groups, contains questions that are important not only to capture the thoughts and feelings of the congregation but also to complete the Rabbinic Search application to be sent to the recruiting arm of the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis). The current plan is to submit our application for an Interim Rabbi in early September.

Following completion of the survey, feedback and results from both the focus groups and the survey will be compiled, analyzed, and written up by the Transition Team and handed off to the Search group for their role in completing and submitting the application.

  Frequently Asked Questions about the Search/Transition Process                                                                                            

Who are Temple Emanu-El’s professional partners in the search process?
The Placement Office of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the Reform rabbinic professional leadership organization, helps guide congregations in the many aspects of their rabbinic search process. The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) provides confidential search and transition support with a keen eye to the needs of each individual congregation.

Why are we looking for an Interim Rabbi?
Especially in cases of successors to long-serving rabbis (like Rabbi Meyer), the CCAR (the Central Conference of American Rabbis) recommends that congregations follow the Interim Rabbi model. An Interim Rabbi is specifically trained as a transitional rabbi. Their purpose is to help a congregation positively, successfully, and thoughtfully transition to a new Settled Rabbi. They are specially trained to help a congregation clarify its goals and objectives for a Settled Rabbi while performing the rabbinic duties for the synagogue. Since Interim Rabbis are not eligible to become permanent rabbis, they are in a unique position to work with the congregational leadership to help the congregation prepare for the next spiritual leader.

What is the process to select our next rabbi? (both Interim and Settled Rabbis)
There are several phases in the rabbinic selection process handled by different teams and spread over many months.

Discovery:  May, June 2022
The Discovery Subcommittee of the Transition team is charged with developing a process of reflection for congregants to determine the most important attributes and qualifications of our next rabbi, along with documenting our Temple’s strengths, challenges, and where we want to be in the next five years. These reflections will be a result of:

  • A series of member focus groups (called Listen and Learn sessions) to gather information on specific questions and open discussion about the process, members’ aspirations, and the vision for Emanu-El’s future.
  • A congregation-wide survey sent to all adult Temple members to understand the important attributes of and hopes for the next rabbi.

Application: August - September 2022
The Search Committee completes and submits a detailed application to the CCAR that comprises the results of the focus groups and online survey as well as details about Temple Emanu-El (history, finances, governance structure, etc.).

Review: October 2022 - March 2023
The Search Committee receives and reviews candidate applications, determines which candidates to contact and conducts virtual interviews. Based on the virtual interviews, it is determined which candidates should be invited for subsequent interviews or an in-person visit to Marblehead.

In-person Visit – Spring 2023
Candidate(s) is invited to travel to Marblehead to meet with lay leaders, senior staff, and committee members and to visit our local community.  

Due Diligence and Recommendation: - Spring 2023
The Search Committee begins due diligence on each candidate still being considered and if necessary, the final candidate(s)will be invited back to tour areas of the community, ask pertinent questions, and meet with other leaders.

The Search Committee, after the process delineated above, will decide by discussion and ultimate vote as to their recommendation of which candidate they feel will be the optimal candidate to serve our congregation. That recommendation is presented at the Board of Trustees meeting, and the Board votes on the said recommendation.

Further questions can be directed to:
Sharon Orfaly, Search Chair
Claudia Kaufman, Transition Chair
Gail New, President

What does the  Transition Team Send-Off Subcommittee do?
Although there is much attention on the search activity for the Interim and Settled Rabbi,  the Send-Off Subcommittee of the Transition Team will be busy in the fall of 2022 planning the celebrations and our ways to honor and say thank you to Rabbi Meyer for his three decades of service to Temple Emanu-El.  Still in the beginning stages, if you are interested in helping with any of the activities to be held next spring 2023, please reach out to



 Transition–Discovery Subcommittee:    

Claudia Kaufman, Chair
Dan Rosen
Judith Emanuel
Ann Laaff
Deahn Leblang
Nicole Sherf
Eric Reines
Andrea Liftman

 Search Committee:                                    

Sharon Orfaly, Chair
Erin Cullen
Bob Goldman
Jeff Goldstein
Nate Goldstein
Lisa Nagel
Terra Samuels
Jerry Somers
Jamie Yomtov

 Transition–Send-Off Subcommittee:           

Claudia Kaufman, Chair
ate Aikman
Ina-Lee Block
Gail Mack
Matthew Friedman
Wendy Lewis
Tracey Roman
Shari McGuirk
Jackie Robbio
Sue Weiss

  From our Temple President:  April 25, 2022                                                                                                                                    

Dear fellow congregants,

As you know, our beloved Rabbi Meyer has announced his upcoming retirement in June 2023. Change can be challenging but we are excited for the next chapter, both for Rabbi Meyer and for Temple Emanu-El. 

Today, I want to give you an update on the progress we have already made in the search process.

Leadership has put together both a Search Committee and a Transition Committee whose members represent all aspects of Temple life. Each of these committees have met and been given specific responsibilities including: fact-finding from our congregation, staff and community, and completing an application for a new Rabbi.

  • Fact-finding: We will be welcoming input from the entire congregation shortly as we begin the search process for our next Rabbi. There will be opportunities to gather all of your feedback in the very near future through a variety of means including a congregational online survey and focus groups. Everyone will have a voice in this process.
  • Application Process: The first application to be completed and submitted by the Search Committee will be for an Interim Rabbi.  This Rabbi will serve a one-year term as a bridge between Rabbi Meyer and our new Senior Rabbi. An Interim Rabbi is highly recommended by CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) and URJ (Union for Reform Judaism) to provide some emotional space as our congregation makes the change from a long-term, beloved Rabbi to a new spiritual leader. We will all need the time to adjust and to conduct an effective search for our new Senior Rabbi.

Please be assured that all Interim Rabbis are trained to “step right in” as a traditional Rabbi while also looking at a Temple objectively, giving feedback on daily operations, staffing and programming. By hiring an Interim Rabbi, our congregation will have the time and means to create a neutral and welcoming environment in which the incoming Senior Rabbi will have an opportunity for success on their own terms.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I will continue to keep you updated on all aspects of the search process.

With my gratitude,

Lisa A. Nagel
President, Temple Emanu-El

  Announcement:  From Rabbi Meyer, January 2022/Shevat 5782                                                                                               

To my Dear Congregation:

There is a wonderful story in the Talmud of a sage who came to a crossroads where he happened upon a young boy. The sage asked him which road would take him to Town? “This road is short but long,” the boy answered. Pointing to the other he continued, “This road is long but short.” The sage took the first road but found that the entrance to the city was hedged in by gardens and orchards. So he returned to the boy and said, “Did you not tell me that this road is short?” “Yes,” the boy answered, but I also told you it was long. It is shorter in length, but longer in time.” (Eruvim 53b)

As I begin making plans to transition to the next phase of my Rabbinic career here at Temple Emanu-El, I sense that I’ve taken the “long road that is short.” Yes, serving our congregation for the past three decades is a lengthy tenure by any measure. But the years have passed so quickly that my time here feels, indeed, surprisingly brief.

Leading an active and vibrant congregation requires a rabbi to put forth an enormous amount of both physical and creative energy, and I am grateful to have continued to be blessed with a combination of good health, enthusiasm, imagination, and fortitude. Still, as I’ve commented recently, I’d much rather make the transition to my Emeritus status five years too early than five minutes too late! After much consideration, I have made the timely decision to step down as your Senior Rabbi in the Spring of 2023.

It may seem that giving a full eighteen-month notice is excessive, but I and our Temple leadership agree that the rabbinic transition will be a critical moment for our congregation, as it was thirty years ago when I began. We are fortunate to be blessed with an exceptional Board with highly capable officers to manage the effort, and I will offer my full support and whatever guidance might be appropriate.

In addition, please be assured that for the next year and a-half, I will continue to serve the Temple to my fullest capacity, being with you in times of joy and sorrow, bringing my love of teaching to our children and adults alike, and maintaining my passions for life-long learning, for music, for Zionism, social justice, and personal growth.

Indeed, the road has been long -- but short! I look forward to continuing to share in the life of Temple Emanu-El for many years as we look together towards a shared and bright future.


David J. Meyer
Senior Rabbi

Thu, September 29 2022 4 Tishrei 5783