Kehillat Lev Shalem began as an idea around a kitchen table more than 35 years ago. In bringing that idea to life, Rabbi Jonathan joined and became our spiritual leader in 1988. For the past 33 years he has been not only the face but the embodiment of a shul that so many of us have grown to call home. In so doing he has truly brought his whole heart to serving our congregation.
It saddens us all that he has chosen to retire. I can think of no one who has so well-earned retirement. Rabbi Jonathan will be enjoying some very well-deserved time with his family, friends and personal pursuits.
Given the role he has played in the life of this community it would not only be disrespectful to seek to immediately replace him but detrimental to the health of this congregation. This community needs to go through a grieving process; we will need to come together to examine who we are and how we want to see ourselves in our future. These processes will take time and cannot/should not be rushed.
Given the deep respect this community and the Board have for Rabbi Jonathan and all he has done, your Board has chosen the following path forward.
A search committee will be formed. The search committee will not be tasked with seeking a new rabbi at this time, for who could replace Rabbi Jonathan? Instead, the Board of Directors, after much discussion and receiving guidance from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, has chosen to institute a search for an interim rabbi.
The role of an interim rabbi is to provide the community with the spiritual and pastoral care we need while also helping us to work through our grieving, healing and introspection. Through this work, the interim rabbi, who typically serves for only one year, will help guide the search for our next long-term spiritual leader.
While I write to you on behalf of the Board of Directors, I know that you, as all of us, have a great deal to process. As we process, we will have questions. Many of us will have similar questions. I invite you to send these questions to the Board at this email: Transition@wjcshul.org. The Board will review, consider and post common questions with answers on our web page under a new TRANSITION tab.
In closing, I simply say breathe…we will work though this together, as this community needs to. I know this is a shock. As with all life-changing events, even though we know they are coming, the knowledge doesn’t make it any easier. And please remember, Rabbi Jonathan is still with us for the coming year, so let’s enjoy and appreciate this time to the fullest.
I ask that you please join the Board in thanking Rabbi Jonathan for all of his love, devotion and guidance and wish him well in his retirement.
We will, of course, be keeping you posted on every development.
WJC Board President