Rabbi Jessica Kessler Marshall, Temple Beth Or's Rabbi for the last nine years, left our congregation on July 1, 2017.
Here is the latest update regarding the Rabbinic Search Process, from Temple President, Mark Bresnick:
So far, we’ve had our initial meetings, held August workshops, and distributed a survey to solicit members’ input regarding:
  • TBO’s goals;
  • The most important issues facing TBO; and
  • The essential qualities that the next TBO rabbi must have. 
Please take a few minutes to complete our online survey , or drop by the Temple office to complete a paper version. Even if you attended a workshop, please also complete a survey, as the questions asked are quite different. Thank you!
We will use the input we receive to help the Governing Board complete the rabbi application form and to guide us as we consider applicants.
In order for this process to successfully identify TBO’s next rabbi, member participation is vital.  We look forward to hearing from all of you.
I want to thank all the people who have both offered input into the process and volunteered to be part of the Rabbinic Transition Committee. The ultimate decision for who was selected for the committee was mine. I worked with the Board, with the Liaison Committee (Rabbi Marshall, Heidi Piehl and Sheryl Shapiro) had conversation with the URJ and the CCAR about process and general committee make-up and talked with Temple Members :

  • Susan Cross - Member since 1989, Bereavement Committee, Finance Committee
  • Heidi Piehl - Member since 2003, current Governing Board member (VP of Programming), Youth Education Committee, Adult Education Committee, past Rabbinic Search Committee member, past Governing Board President, lay service leader, B’nei Mitzvah tutor and teacher, former Confirmation teacher, lay coordinator for those interested in conversion
  • Melanie Field - Member since 1995, Bereavement Committee, Fundraising Committee, High Holy Days organizer, past TBO Vice-President, past Rabbinic Search Committee member, interfaith family, two adult children who attended TBO Religious School
  • Ron Heiman
  • Glen Pickus - Committee Chair. Member since 1991, Social Action Committee, past Rabbinic Search Committee member, former Religious School administrator and teacher, past Governing Board President, interfaith family, three adult children who attended TBO Religious School
  • Christina Downie - Member since 2010, Purimspiel participant, interfaith family, one child in Religious School, not Jewish
  • Jona Feinberg - Member since 2012, two children in Religious School nearing B’nei Mitzvah date
  • Wanda Bresnick - Member since 1996, High Holy Days Committee, non-Jewish member who has converted, two adult children who attended TBO Religious School

It is our hope that you will be comfortable approaching at least one of us, in person or via email, to ask questions about the committee’s processes and progress and to express your opinions.  We are all equal liaisons to the congregation - willing, able, and eager to talk with you.

I am continuing to work on the application and will be having Heidi Piehl and Sheryl Shapiro work with me as we walk through the process. Bob Goodmark will also be involved providing the financial information required for the application.
Our timeframe for submitting the application has changed a little but does not impact the larger timeline. Assuming all goes well here is what we are looking at:
  • Application completed and submitted to CCAR - by the High Holidays - mid September 2017
  • Committee begin to review applications and do initial interview process - October - December 2017
  • Bring viable candidates in to run services and meet/Q&A with congregation - January - April 2018
  • Make a decision and contract offer - April/May 2018
  • New Rabbi starts - July 2018
Services and Support:
I also want to thank the Religious Practices Committee - especially Phyllis and Bernie Busch and Carolyn Wexler for all of their hard work in putting together our Service Leader schedule (a mix of guest Rabbi's and lay leadership) and identifying Rabbinic support services for the other needs that come up for our congregation. There is a lot of work that has gone and continues to go into making this happen.
  • We will be having 3 Shabbat Services a month during the transition - First Friday Family Shabbat; Third Saturday Shabbat; Fourth Friday night Shabbat
  • We will have a combination of Lay Leadership and guest Rabbis
  • A list of services, service leaders, oneg hosts, and greeters is available here
  • The Bereavement Committee will have a list of Rabbis who can support members in their time of need
  • We will have Local Rabbi support, as needed, for other congregants needs
  • Reminder that Cantor Ellen Dreskin will be leading the High Holiday Services with lay support
  • Terri, our office manager, will act as our triage maven, routing incoming calls, etc. to either the appropriate Board Member or to the Regional URJ office (as needed).
I will continue to provide updates as we have new information to share.
Just as an FYI and as an indication that we know there is interest in our position, I have spoken to two Rabbis to share about our congregation and the timeline for our process. One of the two indicated his interest and intent to apply once the position is posted.
Please let me know what questions you have.

 Here is an excerpt from Rabbi Marshall's letter to the congregation:  

"It has been the deepest honor to be your rabbi sharing simchas and supporting each other through sorrows. I have treasured sharing Shabbat and holidays, deepening our relationships through learning Torah, shmoozing at onegs, meals in your homes, singing joyously, and so much laughter together...  ... After deep soul searching, I have decided not to renew my contract and to take time for personal and rabbinic growth as I explore other aspects of my rabbinate."

Temple President Mark Bresnick also wrote a letter to our members, which stated, in part:

"I want to thank Rabbi Marshall for her amazing leadership and service to the Temple and our Community. It has been a wonderful journey in which we have all shared special moments...   ...The Board will be evaluating a number of approaches going forward such as putting together a Rabbinic Search Committee and evaluating the options for short-term transitional rabbinic services. The Board will work closely with our Committee Chairs and our Religious School Director to make sure we have plans in place to meet the needs of our congregation as Rabbi Marshall transitions away, a new rabbi transitions in and/or we have a rotation and/or gap in rabbinic presence. Temple members will be actively engaged in helping to shape what this new future will look like. We will need members to represent our wonderfully diverse community and serve on a Rabbinic Search Committee and Transition Team. It is critical that we share our voices to help sharpen our vision and begin to turn that into reality."

We held a celebration of Rabbi Marshall during the weekend of May 20-21. In her Farewell Words, Rabbi Marshall spoke eloquently and emotionally about her time at Temple Beth Or:

"Nine years ago... After a full and intense weekend... Someone asked the question if I thought my age would be a challenge, and after I responded, a certain congregant who shall remain nameless, but who had a starring role in the infamous hot tub story and is the proud papa to 6 kids said, 'I don’t think it’s a challenge, I think it’s an asset.'  I remember feeling so grateful for his confidence in me and the willingness of a community to put their trust in a rabbi who was still a bit of a greenhorn.  How we’ve grown together the past 9 years…

I look out at each of you and I see flashes of countless moments shared… holding you as a loved one died, cradling your newborns and blessing them with their Hebrew name.   Burying your loved ones, singing our hearts out at tisches, and bonfires, and Shabbat services, and Purim, and…endless joyful singing.  All the sweet moments when you pop into my study just to chat…. When I catch your eye during services as your child leads from the bima and we share a look of pride at what a beautiful job they’re doing and all it took to get there.   Outdoor hikes and picnics and sitting in the Sukkah under starry skies. The way we carry each other on Yom Kippur. I am half delirious at the end, and as our voices harmonize, we stand together, and our fervent prayers propel us all forward into a New Year filled with promise..."

Rabbi Marshall sent us an update letter in late August, filling us in on her current activities:

"...I'm working part-time at an organization called Judaism Your Way running the Boulder arm of their b'nai mitzvah program.  This organization does wonderful outreach to unaffiliated families.  They take a really progressive open-arms approach and I'm working with colleagues I respect and admire.  It's a huge change to be a newbie again without a larger sense of organizational culture and wondering if I'm doing things right.  As soon as a catch  my breath, I'll begin diving into my main endeavor~spiritual entrepreneurship around creative lifecycle rituals.  My work email is jessica@judaismyourway.org...."

 We will periodically update this page with the latest news regarding the status of our Rabinnic Transition process.