Clergy Search Update

Cantor Search Committee

Charlene Levine, Chairperson
Daniel Goldstein, Gemma Holgate, Debbie Lavine, Kat Sheedy, Fred Thomsen and David Zinner

The Cantor Search Committee (CSC) is charged with finding a full or part-time cantor for  Columbia Jewish Congregation (CJC). Our new cantor will be tasked with leading the congregation in song and prayer at services and holiday celebrations and teaching songs for prayers and festivals to the children enrolled in Columbia Jewish Community School and tutoring children in preparation for B’nai Mitzvah. In addition, the cantor will work with the CJC choir on a regular basis. Other responsibilities may include pastoral counselling, community engagement and TOT Shabbat programs, attending Board meetings and staffing committees. Toward the hiring of a new cantor, the CSC has accomplished the following to date:

Early 2022

  • Receiving and reviewing cantor applications to determine which candidates should move forward in the interview process
  • Conducting virtual screening interviews with selected candidates
  • After first interview, determine which candidates to be eliminated and who is to move on to a second interview 
  • To select up to 3 candidates for zoom or in person interview weekends
  • Several weekends have been reserved for candidate interview weekends:  February 25-27, 2022; March 11-13, 2022; March 18-20, 2022; and April 1-3, 2022

October 2021

After receiving 7 responses to our call for cantor candidate applications and 5 zoom interviews, the Cantor Search Committee scheduled a hybrid cantor candidate weekend, Friday, November 12- Sunday, November 14, 2021.  All of the applications were carefully considered by the committee and first and second interviews were conducted. This led us to identifying one candidate they found very well suited to fulfill all the cantorial needs of CJC. There were many opportunities throughout the weekend for members to interact with the candidate, both virtually and in-person. A survey following the candidate’s weekend resulted in a decision to re-open the cantor search and not offer the candidate the position.

October/November 2020
• Created list of needs identified for the 6 month period between the hiring of the new rabbi and new cantor
• Job description created for interim cantor and tutors
• Identified possible temporary cantors for interim period 
• Identified interim tutors
• Interviewed Rabbi Starr and Cantor Kintisch about hiring process
• Work on temporary tutor and cantor concluded. Board of Directors to take on role of hiring and salary negotiation for these positions

August/September 2020
• Participated in zoom call with transition VP Stu Berlin, Rabbi search chair, Alex Ross, and Jackie Land of the Reconstructing Judaism movement concerning effects on hiring in the wake of the pandemic shutdown
• Created a new timeline with a 6 month delay for the new cantor and the addition of an interim cantor (s) and temporary tutor (s)
• Presented CSC update to the Board of Directors. Requested delay of cantor search for 6 months to give the new rabbi a chance to settle in and to have input as to the new cantor
• Break for the High Holidays (end of September)

June/July 2020
• Clergy Search Survey distributed to every member of the congregation to learn what qualities are wanted in our next cantor (and rabbi)
• Analyzed results of survey responses
• Presented the survey results to the Board of Directors
• Created timeline for cantor search

April/May 2020
• Attended Congregation Town Hall meetings for Rabbi Search, Cantor Search and CJCS 
• Reviewed and incorporated ideas emanating from 3 focus group discussions, as well as the town hall meetings
• Developed a survey instrument to gain feedback from the members of CJC