Rabbinic Transition

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The Temple Beth Or Rabbinic Search Committee received resumes from 7 applicants, interviewed 4 candidates, and extended invitations for two rabbis to come visit us. Rabbi Rachel Kort, Co-rabbi at Temple Beth El of South Orange County in Aliso Viejo, California, visited from January 26 to 28. At a Special Membership Meeting on March 11, Temple Beth Or members voted to offer Rabbi Kort a part-time contract.
We are so excited to announce that we have signed a three-year contract with Rabbi Rachel Kort and as of
July 1, 2018, we will begin a new spiritual journey together. Rabbi Kort is currently finalizing and transitioning from her current congregation and has generously begun to connect with Temple Beth Or.
Rabbi Kort has spoken with the Religious Practices Committee to create her Shabbat service schedule through the end of the year. Her first service at Temple Beth Or will be Friday, July 6, for our First Friday Family Shabbat service. She will also be here for our General Membership Meeting on June 24.  Please come to the meeting and welcome her!
We have put our “not quite yet” rabbi in touch with Cantor Ellen Dreskin to begin shaping our 5779 High Holy Days and have further requested she reach out to the Religious School Director to talk about the start of the new school year in September. Finally, Rabbi Kort has been connecting with our summer bar & bat mitzvah families as she looks to take varying roles in their services.
For now, if you have questions or concerns or need more information about the process, please contact any of the members of our Transition Team:

Mark Bresnick                      Heidi Piel                   Sheryl Shapiro


Thanks again to the Rabbinic Search Committee for doing an excellent job with managing the search process and to all the members of the congregation for your participation in interacting with the candidate and making your voice heard in the decision process.


Thank you to the members who graciously volunteered to join the Rabbinic Search Committee:

  • 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
Interim Services and Support:
Thank you, to 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 rabbis and lay leadership) and identifying rabbinic support services for the other needs that come up for our congregation.
  • We will hold three Shabbat Services a month, using both guest rabbis and lay leaders
  • A list of services, service leaders, oneg hosts, and greeters is available here
  • The Bereavement Committee has a list of rabbis who can support members in their time of need
  • We also have local rabbinical support, as needed, for other congregants’ needs
  • We invited Cantor Ellen Dreskin to our 2018 High Holidays Services
  • Terri, our office manager, will route incoming calls and emails to the appropriate Board Member or to the Regional URJ office

 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, 2017. 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 Rabbinic Transition process.