Update on Rabbinic Search

Please send all communication for the Search and Transition Task Force Members to board@emanuelsf.org.



Rabbinic Search Announcement - March 20, 2013


On behalf of the Board of Directors, it is my great pleasure to announce that we have selected Rabbi Beth Singer and Rabbi Jonathan Singer to serve as Senior Rabbis of Congregation Emanu-El.  While we have not yet confirmed the Singers’ precise start date, we anticipate that they will assume their duties at Emanu-El before the High Holy Days.  Rabbis Beth and Jonathan Singer come to us from Temple Beth Am in Seattle, Washington, where Rabbi Jonathan has served since 1995 and Rabbi Beth since 1997.  The Board has been impressed and moved by their passion, warmth, spirituality, intellect, and energy, and we are excited that the Singers will be joining our community.

Under the Singers’ dynamic leadership, Temple Beth Am has grown in membership from approximately 375 to more than 900 families and has blossomed into a thriving synagogue.  Today, Temple Beth Am is a vibrant religious, cultural, and social center at which a broad range of the Seattle Jewish community feels welcome and spiritually engaged.  For example, the Singers revamped the synagogue’s worship services to foster a deeper connection with members, developed multi-faceted youth and adult education programs, and successfully inspired members to engage in social action initiatives.  We expect the Singers to bring to Congregation Emanu-El the same compelling leadership they have brought to Beth Am.

In seeking a successor to Rabbi Stephen Pearce—who will retire this summer after twenty years of dedicated service to our congregation but will remain with us as Senior Rabbi Emeritus—the Board had one overriding goal:  to hire the best Senior Rabbi we could find.  During the search process, it became clear that the best candidate was not a single individual but was instead an extraordinarily talented team of two.  While this leadership structure will be new for our congregation, we are confident that the Singers’ vision, strength, and teamwork will help Emanu-El thrive in the years ahead.

“We are filled with excitement to be invited to serve as your new senior rabbis,” Rabbi Beth Singer wrote.  “Inspired by Rabbi Stephen Pearce, we know we have big shoes to fill.  Having met your immensely talented clergy team, we are honored and humbled to join in partnership to provide vision, rabbinical services, and a path toward the next great chapter of Congregation Emanu-El.” Rabbi Jonathan Singer added, “The rabbis of the Talmud described shalshelet hakabbalah, the chain of Jewish tradition in which the passion for study, for being God’s partner to repair the world, for spiritual connection and building up the strength of Jewish community, is passed from one generation to the next.  We are honored to join shalshelet hakabbalah, the chain of dynamic Jewish tradition and life that is Congregation Emanu-El.”

Rabbi Jonathan Singer graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in Government.  After studying at Machon Pardes and Hebrew Union College, he was ordained in 1989.  He began his rabbinical career at Temple Israel in New Rochelle, New York, where he served as Assistant Rabbi and then as Associate Rabbi.  In 1995, he joined Temple Beth Am in Seattle as the Senior Rabbi.  In 2009, he became Co-Senior Rabbi.  

Rabbi Beth Singer also attended Pomona College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies.  She was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1989.  Before joining Temple Beth Am as an Associate Rabbi in 1997, she served as an Assistant Rabbi and then an Associate Rabbi at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York and as an Associate Rabbi at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle.  In 2009, she became Co-Senior Rabbi at Beth Am.  

The selection of Rabbis Beth and Jonathan Singer to head our congregation was the culmination of a comprehensive yearlong process.  The search committee held four congregational “town hall” meetings last spring to better understand what our congregants wanted in a new Senior Rabbi.  The search committee then spent the summer and fall evaluating candidates and narrowing the field to the very best.  Clergy and senior staff played an active role in the evaluation process, as did the entire Board, which made the final decision to hire the Singers.  A special thank you is due to the nine congregants who labored mightily on the search committee:  Co-Chairs David Goldman and Ann Lazarus and members Dale Boutiette, Erika Coplon, Dana Corvin, Alan Rothenberg, Mathew Salter, Diane Winer, and Paul Zarefsky.

Please join us in warmly welcoming Rabbis Beth and Jonathan Singer and their family to Congregation Emanu-El.  They will visit Emanu-El in April to begin meeting congregants.  As soon as the timing and details of their visit have been arranged, we will let you know.

With a sense of excitement and promise, we look forward to Rabbis Beth and Jonathan Singer leading our congregation and continuing the work of building our spiritual community.

Steven Dinkelspiel
President, Board of Directors

Update to the Congregation: Rabbinic Advisory Search Committee - January 23, 2013

In the hours before the Temple's Annual Meeting in December, the Rabbinic Search Advisory Committee presented the Board of Directors with the results of the search process. After receiving approximately 25 resumes, dozens of video and phone interviews, many reference checks, and several on-site visits, the Advisory Committee presented the Board with a select few Rabbinic candidates to consider as finalists.  During the holiday season, the Board invited these candidates back for an intensive second round of on-site visits.  Each is an outstanding representative of our movement. The Board is now considering if either candidate would be the right choice for our community, or to choose the interim Rabbi path.  (Both options have their merits). 

As this process draws to a close, we wish to thank Advisory Committee, Clergy, Senior Staff and so many other members who gave us their thoughts, input, and prayers along the way.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions by sending email to Caroline.KahnWerboff@Sothebyshomes.com

Update to the Congregation: Rabbinic Advisory Search Committee - December 1, 2012

There are three candidates who have visited and met with the board, the clergy, and the search committee. All three have wonderful qualities, but at this time, there has not been a meeting among the groups to discuss or make any decision regarding the rabbis we have met. There is one more candidate who will be visiting.

It has been a very intense process for the rabbis who are visiting, as well as the search committee, and the members and clergy who are meeting with them. I applaud all those who are participating in this process. Each has the welfare and the best interest of the synagogue foremost in mind. Please feel free to contact me if you have any concerns or questions.

Caroline Kahn Werboff,
Transition Task Force
(415) 296-2210 direct


Update to the Congregation: Rabbinic Advisory Search Committee - November 1, 2012

Over the late summer and early fall, the Advisory Search Committee has been busy working on the selection process. We’re glad to report being exactly on schedule (if not a bit ahead).

Highlights include the following:

  • Receiving over 20 applications from all over North America
  • Reviewing each application and researching the candidates
  • Selection of about nine rabbis for an intensive video interview
  • Conducting a second interview with several candidates, along with additional research
  • Developing an agenda for initial on-site visits

Next steps:

We are in the process of asking a very select number of applicants to visit the Temple for an-depth interview process. During this roughly two-day visit, candidates will have meetings with the Advisory Committee, Clergy, Senior Staff, and the Board of Directors, who have the authority to make the hiring decision under the by-laws. (We will not be able to schedule public meetings at this time due to confidentially restrictions). In addition, we will show off the best city and Reform Temple in America.

As always, please free to ask any questions:

Caroline Kahn Werboff, Transition Task Force
David Goldman, Search Chair
Email caroline.kahnwerboff@sothebyshomes.com or call (415) 296-2210

Update to the Congregation: Rabbinic Advisory Search Committee - August 9, 2012

The search process is in full swing. We submitted our application to the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and have received numerous applications. We are in the process of starting to schedule initial interviews with some of the candidates, a process that will likely take the rest of the summer and early fall. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Update to the Congregation: Rabbinic Advisory Search Committee - August 1, 2012

Thank you to the nearly one hundred congregants who came to one or more of the meetings related to our search for a new senior rabbi. It was great to hear from so many about their passion for our Temple and hopes for the future.

While there were certainly differing opinions expressed, we found commonalities. Among the themes that emerged, our new rabbi should:

  • Support the many diverse ways that we pray, study, and relate to Judaism and the Temple
  • Help build a feeling of one Emanu-El community among our diversity
  • Relate to, and be approachable by, all members
  • Provide a vision of the Temple for the future, in our spiritual and educational offerings as well as in other programs. Be a visionary without acting like a “rock star”
  • Lead the clergy in a cooperative and collaborative manner
  • Inspire both members and clergy
  • Contribute to the Temple’s development efforts, providing financial sustainability and helping to build a culture of giving among members
  • Exhibit a high degree of scholarship in sermons and other duties
  • Carry the mantle of leadership not just at Emanu-El but in the Bay Area and national Jewish communities
  • There was a general recognition that no one person would excel in all these areas and that we would likely need to make some trade offs.
  • While just an overview, we hope this provides a sense of those issues most important to members.

Member feedback is crucial and with input from clergy, senior staff and board, is being used to create the job description and application to the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR).

Next Steps

The committee has worked diligently on the application to the CCAR which was submitted in July. The next phase will include reviewing resumes, speaking to candidates for the position and compiling information for interviews. The third phase will be visits from candidates, and visits to their home congregations. The fourth phase will include making a proposal to the Board of Directors, who will make the final decision.

If you missed the meetings or have additional comments, please respond to our email address: board@emanuelsf.org.

Submitted by,

Caroline Kahn Werboff, Transition Task Force Chair
David Goldman, Co-Chair Advisory Search Committee

Update to the Congregation     May 6, 2012

From: the Search Advisory Committee and the Transition Task Force

Meeting with Members Who Volunteered to Help with the Search Process
On April 26, a members of the Search Advisory and the Transition Task Force met with congregants who had volunteered to help with the search process.   Their feedback on the search process and the skills and values needed for the next rabbi were invaluable.  In addition, the meeting helped us plan the public meetings open to all congregants occurring in May (see schedule below).  We are indebted to these members for their time and their insights. 

We encourage every member to attend one of the other public meetings, see schedule below. We need your input to ensure the process reflects the Emanu-el community as a whole.

Search Timeline
One of the most frequent questions we get involve timing.   The good news is that we are on schedule within the guidelines set forth by the Central Conference of American Rabbis (“CCAR”).   Specifics will change as the process goes forward, but we hope the following outline provides some guidance.

  1. Stage One: (Present – June).   Collect input from the congregation
  2. Stage Two: (July – Aug):   Receiving and reviewing initial  applications
  3. Stage Three: (Sept-Feb):  Interviews and on-site meetings
  4. Stage Four (March-April):  Advisory Search Committee reports to the Board, and  Board selection of first choice.
  5. Aug-Sept:  New Rabbi Installation and transition.


Rabbinic Advisory Search Committee Chosen

We‘re happy to inform you that the Rabbinic Search Advisory Committee for the Senior Rabbi position is in place. Our Congregation's greatest strength is the vibrancy of our members, and we appreciate the importance of this commitment to the Temple. More than sixty highly qualified and devoted members volunteered or were nominated to serve on the Rabbinic Search Advisory Committee. From these, we tried to select a committee with experience in similar searches that represents a wide variety of Temple communities, interest, and perspectives, and with ties to the greater Bay Area Jewish community. In looking at this list, we are sure you’ll agree that the Temple is going to be well served:


  • David Goldman - Current Secretary of the Board and previous chair of Emanu-El’s last year’s Rabbinic Search Committee; former Chair of Emanu-El’s Social Justice Committee and former member of the young adult leadership committees at Emanu-El and the New Israel Fund.
  • Ann Lazarus - Past President of Congregation Emanu-El Board of Directors; Past President, Jewish Family and Children's Services; former President and CEO, Mount Zion Health Fund.


  • Dale Boutiette - Parent of teen girls in the Youth Education Program; Past President of Brandeis Hillel Day School Parent Association; Past Board Member at Camp Tawonga; Past Board Member at Brandeis Hillel Day School; Past Board Member of JCRC; Co-Chair for the BHDS 45th Anniversary Celebration and Gala; current Co-Chair of the Inaugural BHDS Biennial Golf Tournament and Fund Raiser, and member Emanu-El Planned Giving Task Force.
  • Erika Coplon - Former Preschool Parent Association President and continuing member of the Advisory Board, and Preschool Director Search Committee Co-Chair; Former Chair of Social Justice Committee.
  • Dana Corvin - Former board member of Congregation Emanu-El, third generation Temple congregant, retired business owner and HR professional, member of many community boards.
  • Alan Rothenberg - Former President of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation; Board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC);Trustee of Kenyon College; regular Friday night worshipper. Alan chaired the selection committee several years ago for finding a new CEO for the Federation.
  • Mathew Salter - Young Adult Leadership Committee member
  • Diane Winer - Chaired two searches for Senior Rabbi at other temples; former Trustee/Officer of the Union for Reform Judaism and Overseer at HUC-JIR's NY campus; member of Caring Committee, Social Justice Committee, and Local Organizing Committee; and frequent participant in Tauber Jewish Studies Program.
  • Paul Zarefsky - Member of the Board; Youth Education parent, member of last year’s Rabbinic Search Committee.

Even as this Advisory Search Committee plays an important role, all members will be able to actively participate in the process. For example, we will be reaching out to the members to participate in focus groups and general "get togethers" to get a sense of what the community is looking for in our next Senior Rabbi.

We intend to do our best in communicating and updating the membership.  Emanu-El’s website already has a page dedicated to update -
www.emanuelsf.org/rabbinicsearch and we will send other communications when needed. You, the members, need to be heard and we need your ideas. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us with any questions or concerns.

Very Sincerely,

David Goldman, Co-Chair, Rabbinic Search Advisory Committee
Caroline Kahn Werboff, Co- Chair, Senior Rabbi Transition Advisory Task Force


Below you will find letters to the congregation from Rabbi Mintz and the board announcing her decision not to seek the position of senior rabbi and to remain as a congregational rabbi when Rabbi Pearce retires.

January 9, 2012

Dear Friends,

As I reflect upon the many blessings of 2011, serving as your rabbi continues to be a profound privilege. I am grateful and honored that you have shared your time, your stories, your heartbreaks and your blessings with me and with all of us at Temple Emanu-El. You are part of my family and Temple Emanu-El is my home. I am grateful that we are entering 2012 together, and I look forward to deepening my relationships with all of you.

As many of you know, Rabbi Pearce has announced that he will soon be stepping down from his current role and the Congregation will embark on a search for the next senior rabbi. Since his announcement, I have been honored that many congregants, board members and colleagues have encouraged me to seek the position of senior rabbi.

I am writing to let you know that I have made an important decision based on my love and respect for our sacred community, for myself, and for my family.

Based upon careful deliberation and deep reflection, I have come to the conclusion that while I wish to continue to serve our congregation as your rabbi as I have done these past 14 years, it will  not be as senior rabbi.

I am committed to continuing my service to you, and my leadership role in Temple Emanu-El’s future.  I am grateful for the opportunity I have to serve as the scholar-in-residence on the American Jewish World Service Rabbinic Student Delegation from January 1 to 12, 2012 in Yucatan, Mexico where I am helping train the next generation of rabbis.  Thereafter, I will begin a long-planned six-month sabbatical from January 15 through July 22, 2012.

I will be in touch throughout this time and look forward to returning to my duties at the Temple in the summer. I have committed to several new projects at the Temple and I will be actively supporting the board in our search for a new senior rabbi.

My warmest wishes to you and yours as we enter 2012 together as a community.

Much Shalom,
Rabbi Sydney Mintz


January 9, 2012

Dear Congregant,

The Board of Directors of Temple Emanu-El has had an extensive opportunity to speak with Rabbi Mintz about her decision not to seek the senior rabbi position. While disappointed by her decision, we also understand and respect it.

The board strongly supports her rabbinate and fully acknowledges her critically important contribution to our community.   For 14 years, Rabbi Mintz has given us her brilliance and has touched nearly every aspect of Temple life. Her ongoing involvement, leadership and commitment are essential to the future development of our sacred community.  We look forward to her continued successful career at Emanu-El, a goal we know she shares.

We are actively engaged in discussions with Rabbi Mintz on expanding her long-term leadership roles within the Temple.  She will be integrally involved in the development and implementation of the Strategic Plan on Worship which will begin this year.  We also will be seeking her insight throughout the senior rabbi search process.

We look forward to a continued strong relationship with Rabbi Mintz. For now, we wish her well while she serves the greater Jewish community on the American Jewish World Service trip and takes time on her well-earned sabbatical for her own professional development.

The upcoming transition in our rabbinic community is going to be a lengthy process and the board will be communicating openly and as often as possible with the Congregation.  As always, you may reach us with any questions or concerns by calling the Temple at (415) 751-2535 or writing to board@emanuelsf.org.


Steven Dinkelspiel

President, Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Charles Charnas, Vice President 

Donald Friend 

David Goldman, Secretary 

Scott Kahn 

Caroline Kahn Werboff, Vice President

Barbara Kaufman

Margaret Kaufman 

Maribelle Leavitt 

Mark Lehmann

Roger Low 

Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann, Vice President

Peter Maier 

Mark Nagel

Steve Polsky, Treasurer

Tim Smith 

Ted Storey

Paul Zarefsky

Dec. 5, 2011

Rabbi Pearce Announces His Future Retirement At Annual Meeting

For those who were not present at the recent Annual Meeting, your board of directors wanted to make you aware of an upcoming major milestone in the history of our Temple.

Last night, Rabbi Stephen Pearce announced that effective June 30, 2013 he will be ending his full-time service as senior rabbi of Congregation Emanu-El.  After nearly two decades of outstanding and committed service and leadership, Rabbi Pearce has decided it is time for him to devote more attention to his writing and scholarship and to spend more time with his beloved family.

Rabbi Pearce will not be leaving our community.  The board has requested, and he has agreed, to remain as rabbi emeritus at Temple Emanu-El.  Even though Rabbi’s Pearce’s time as rabbi emeritus will largely be his own, we are delighted that our congregation will continue to enjoy his valuable presence and wisdom for many years to come.

Rabbi Pearce and the board of directors have been discussing for some time how best to plan for a smooth transition.    The eighteen months between now and June 2013 provides ample time for the Temple to conduct a thorough selection process and have the next senior rabbi in place.

The board also announced last night the establishment of an Advisory Search Committee with board member, David Goldman, as chair. The composition of this committee will consist of both board members and other congregants, with an attempt to ensure a broad range of the diverse membership of Temple are represented.  The board is seeking recommendations for membership on this committee from clergy, staff and the broader congregation. If a congregant wishes to volunteer for service, or to recommend another congregant for this committee, please send an e-mail addressed to me at board@emanuelsf.org.   In submitting recommendations please give some information about why that person would be a good committee member, including mention of prior areas of involvement within the Temple.  Members will be appointed by the board early next year under the procedures set out in the bylaws, and the committee’s work will begin immediately.

The search and selection process is still being formalized as we continue to seek input from the Central Conference of American Rabbis and other temples which have conducted searches.  We anticipate conducting a national search as part of this process, recognizing and including our own strong internal candidates.   We also anticipate holding the first of a series of congregational meetings about the process in the spring; please watch for this announcement.   In the interim, we will keep congregants informed about progress in determining the structure of the Search Committee.

The board of directors is very excited about the challenges and opportunities posed by this change in leadership.  We know that with the entire community working together we will further strengthen our wonderful congregation.


Steven Dinkelspiel

President, Board of Directors


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Phone: (415) 751-2535
Fax: (415) 751-2511