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A New Rabbi

05/04/2021 10:51:39 AM


Steve Fintel

I'm sure I'm not the first one telling you this, but we have a new rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom. At a special congregation meeting on April 21, the 157 members in attendance voted by overwhelming majority to approve Rabbi Eleanor Steinman's three year contract to serve as our rabbi. Unfortunately, we couldn't punctuate this moment with the applause Rabbi Steinman deserves. 

At Erev Shabbat services April 30, we got our second chance. If you couldn't attend services in person or missed the stream, check out the moment when she introduced herself here. The microphones don't pick it up real well, but I can assure you the applause was as thunderous as 30 people in a large room can muster. And just look at the grin Rabbi Steinman can't wipe off of her face. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

The service was the culmination of a long process that we've never experienced before. Really, no one has. The CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis--the body that regulates ordained reform rabbis) mandated no in-person interviews throughout the entire process. We conducted all of our interviews with her virtually. She never got to see our sanctuary, campus or even her office outside of a FaceTime walkthrough.

Her hiring was a tremendous leap of faith for both of us. We had the advantage of having her on our staff since last July so we understand how easy she is to work with and our congregants have had exposure to her through the venues of services, education, and pastoral care. That certainly eased many of the more difficult concerns we had to grapple with.

That still leaves the element of face-to-face interaction. As humans, we've become accustomed to picking up cues only fulfilled when we share the same space. And from Rabbi Steinman's perspective, she was being asked to make a life-changing decision based on the views through a very small portal.

Our first chance that Friday night didn't disappoint. I had a chance later that weekend to spend extended time with both Rabbi Steinman and her wife, Rabbi Denise Eger, and I can assure they are both delightful and engaging individuals. While I was already confident we were making the right choice in Rabbi Steinman, after this past weekend I'm sure our entire congregation family will wholeheartedly agree with me.

Welcome to your new home, Rabbi Steinman!

Tue, May 24 2022 23 Iyar 5782