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Cantor Search Updates

                Nobody promised that our search for Cantor Simon’s successor would be smooth or without hiccups.  Well, we have experienced our first hiccup.

            Cantor Ben Rosner, who was scheduled to visit us the weekend of February 3, 4 and 5, has withdrawn his application and will not be joining us that weekend.

            However, the good news is that we still have one, very exciting candidate, Cantor Dara Rosenblatt, who will be with us the weekend of February 10, 11 and 12.

            To prepare Cantor Rosner for his visit, Rabbi Newman Kamin had a lengthy conversation with him on Sunday afternoon.  In that conversation, he asked if we could find volunteers to read Torah on Shabbat morning.  This took us by surprise.  Reading Torah is an essential element of the Cantor’s role at Am Yisrael.  While we are always grateful for members who volunteer to read Torah or chant Haftorah, many weeks, the Cantor is responsible for the entire Torah portion, as well as the Haftorah.  On Monday, Cantor Rosner spoke to Rabbi Newman Kamin and advised her that he did not want to take on this responsibility.  As a result, he no longer desires to be considered for the position.

            We are disappointed that Cantor Rosner withdrew his application.  However, our disappointment does not lessen our excitement at welcoming Cantor Rosenblatt.  She impressed the search committee in her two interviews, and it was a no-brainer to invite her to Am Yisrael for a weekend to meet the congregation.

            I hope that you will take the opportunity to meet Cantor Rosenblatt.  We look forward to the input of the congregation.  However, it goes without saying that you can have no input unless you come to services and meet and experience Cantor Rosenblatt.  In addition, we want to show her that Am Yisrael is a warm and inviting community; one which she will want to join.

 



Cantor Dara Rosenblatt of Temple Beth-El in Richmond, Virginia will join us the
weekend of February 10, 11 and 12.

You can find her resume below.

Advance registration for these services is required.  Click here to sign up.

But first a little background:
Since Cantor Simon announced his retirement 3 months ago, the search committee has
been hard at work and has accomplished a great deal. I want to take this opportunity to update
you on our progress.

The committee’s first action was to develop a job description and post it with the Cantors
Assembly. By choosing to work with the CA, we are subject to a 90-day exclusive period. That
means we cannot post our opening elsewhere. Nonetheless, the decision to work through the CA
was an easy one. The CA gives us access to all ordained, Conservative Cantors looking for a new
position. And, a member of the CA is most likely to have the training and skills that we are
looking for, including the ability to lead all services, chant Torah and Haftorah and tutor B’nai
Mitzvah students.

We have received five resumes. Of those five applicants, the committee decided to offer
a first interview to four. On January 2, 2023, we completed the last of the first interviews. Each
interview followed the same format. The interview was conduct by a 4-person subset of the
committee. Each interview was recorded, so the entire committee could review the interview.
Each candidate was asked the same set of questions to ensure uniformity and fairness.

The committee then decided to offer Cantor Rosner and Cantor Rosenblatt a second
interview. The format of the second interview was slightly different. First, the interview was
conducted by the entire committee. Second, each interview began with the candidate davening
either Mincha or Maariv. The second interviews confirmed what the committee knew after the
first interviews. Both Cantor Rosner and Cantor Rosenblatt are very strong candidates.

The next step in the process is to invite Cantor Rosner and Cantor Rosenblatt to spend a
weekend at Am Yisrael to meet the congregation. They will each lead Friday night services,
Shabbat morning services and Sunday morning minyan. They will also join us for kiddush lunch
after Shabbat morning services and be available to meet with congregants. They will also join
Charlie in SJS on Sunday morning, so they can interact with our students.

It has been the goal of the search committee to be transparent in our search for a new
Cantor. The ultimate act of transparency is inviting the congregation to observe each candidate
in action. I cannot overstate the importance of your attendance at one or more of these
services. We want your input before we make our recommendation to the Board.

However, you clearly can have no input unless you have observed the candidates leading
services and have met and spoken with them.
We look forward to a sanctuary full of members
to welcome the candidates to Am Yisrael.


Finally, there are significant costs incurred in conducting the search for our new Cantor.
These costs were not included in the budget for the current fiscal year. If you are able to make a
donation, whether in cash or of miles, to help defray the costs, please visit our website. Your
generosity will be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to seeing you in February. In the meantime, if you have any questions or
comments, please feel free to contact me.

Jeff Bleiweis
Chair, Search Committee

Click here for Cantor Dara Rosenblatt's resume

Cantor Search Committee:
Jeff Bleiweis, Chair

Dan Adelman
Kate Feinstein
Ted Froum
Jonah Greenthal
Donna Horowitz
Rod Loewenthal
Jonathan Maer
Dan Schack
Ethan Youderian

POSITION DESCRIPTION:  CANTOR, FULL TIME

Introduction
Am Yisrael Congregation is searching for our next Cantor who will be our primary Shaliach/Shalichat Tzibur. Our aim is to build on the longstanding achievements of the clergy and congregation, as well as to innovate for the years ahead. We are seeking a Cantor who can inspire our congregation through engaging chazanut, teaching, innovative programs, and meaningful connections. 

Who We Are
Am Yisrael Congregation, located in Northfield, IL, is a liberal and unique congregation of 365 member households in the near northern suburbs of Chicago. Founded in 1968 and affiliated with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, we are multi-generational, egalitarian, participatory and socially conscious. 

Our membership is made up of down-to-earth, friendly people. Am Yisrael is completely egalitarian and has been since its inception.  We strive to be a congregation that includes all persons, embracing differences of marital status, family structure, sexual orientation, gender and its expression, age, mental and physical health and ability.

Am Yisrael has always recognized that music is a most important component of worship. Music can stir the soul, intensify emotions, and revivify centuries-old prayers. We seek a Cantor to continue to provide this vital musical component to worship, helping to lift prayers of praise, gratitude, petition and penitence to God and singing of the beauty and harmony of Creation.

Characteristics of the Ideal Candidate

  • Engaging, inspirational and charismatic individual who is well-learned in Torah and lives their life guided by the values and beliefs of Conservative Judaism.
  • Command of all the major prayer services: Weekday, Shabbat, Festival, and High Holidays, all of which are conducted primarily in Hebrew.
  • Command of the K’riat HaTorah (we employ the triennial Torah reading cycle), Haftarot, and Megillot.
  • Deep knowledge of major areas of Jewish life and learning.
  • Highly skilled professional whose voice and musicality inspires and uplifts our congregation in prayer.
  • Has deep knowledge of both traditional and contemporary Jewish music and nusachot tefilah.
  • Is comfortable with musical instruments on Shabbat and all Holidays.
  • Excellent communicator who values collaborative relationships, interacting effectively with clergy, synagogue staff, congregants and teachers.
  • Skilled teacher and relationship builder who enjoys engaging with congregants of all ages.
  • Ability to implement creative and innovative approaches that attract and engage current members and prospective families.
  • Demonstrates a strong bond to Israel and global Jewry.
  • Preferred but not required: plays a musical instrument.

Overall Responsibilities 

The following information characterizes key aspects of the role of Cantor at Am Yisrael Congregation.  Broad areas of responsibility include: 

  1. Primary Shaliach/Shalichat Tzibur  
    1. Provide inspirational leadership at Shabbat, Festival and High Holiday services and daily minyanim. 
    2. Encourage and support congregational participation.
    3. Collaborate with the Rabbi in shaping and carrying out religious experiences, both congregation-wide and for individual families.
       
  2. Education – Children
    1. Teach in the School of Jewish Studies in an amount and nature to be determined.
    2. Oversee the B’nai Mitzvah program including: preparing students with the skills necessary for their B’nai Mitzvah, meeting with teens and their families, conducting rehearsals, working with families on details regarding the ceremony, etc.
    3. Encourage and work with post-B’nai Mitzvah students to continue leading services and chanting Torah/Haftarah.
       
  3. Education – Adults
    1. Expand our cadre of Torah readers, Haftarah readers, Gabbaim, substitute service leaders, and shiva minyan leaders through individual or group classes.
    2. Teach daytime and/or evening Adult Ed classes on various topics, as needed.
    3. Run periodic adult B’nai Mitzvah classes.
       
  4. Pastoral and Lifecycle Events (Shared with Rabbi and/or with her prior approval).  
    1. Officiate and co-officiate at full spectrum of lifecycle events.
    2. Lead shiva home minyanim.  
    3. Visit congregants in hospital and nursing home settings as well as home visits to those who are housebound.
    4. Serve on bet din for conversions and other lifecycle events as requested by the Rabbi. 
       
             
  5. Musical Programming  
    1. Create musical programs for Shabbat that will encourage attendance and engagement.
    2. Encourage and work with congregants with musical talent to contribute to services.
    3. Create occasional musical programs for the entertainment and social connections within the congregation.

 

  1. Administration and Synagogue Leadership 
    1. Meet regularly with the Rabbi, Executive Director for professional development, to make strategic decisions, and build the synagogue’s future.
    2. Attend regular staff meetings.
    3. Partner with lay leadership and members on various activities, committees, and endeavors as appropriate.   
    4. Attend kiddush lunch and synagogue events.  
    5. Participate in various Jewish and general community events and organizations as a representative of the synagogue.

 

Note that in accordance with the 1950 “Responsum on the Sabbath” (Adler, Agus and Friedman), the Cantor may drive (to and from synagogue) on Shabbat, Festivals and High Holidays.

Sun, January 29 2023 7 Shevat 5783