As part of its quest to continue as “the heart of Conservative Judaism in Southern Arizona,” says Rabbi Robert Eisen, Congregation Anshei Israel is launching a search process for one or more professionals to fill the roles of cantor and educator.
“Our mission statement is wordy (CAI shall serve as a source of spiritual, educational, and social enrichment in order to encourage and ensure Judaic values in accordance with the principles of Conservative Judaism),” says Eisen, “but what it says is: ‘We are you … we are here for you.’ And, to abide by that mission, we are moving forward in a new and different way into the future. We need to continue to evolve.”
As identified by its membership, two of CAI’s most important priorities are “to continue and grow its abilities to educate children and youth through its religious school, B’nai Mitzvah programs, and beyond” and to provide “meaningful and engaging worship services, which would, preferably, include a person (or persons) with cantorial talents and skills.”
Although CAI’s leadership has models in mind for fulfilling those needs, says Eisen, “we don’t know what will emerge until we see what’s out there.”
Board President Richard Fink, with direction from CAI’s trustees, has appointed a search committee to pursue multiple tracks. One track will engage national organizations such as United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Cantorial Assembly and the Jewish Educator’s Assembly. A parallel search will be conducted locally.
“More than anything, we’re looking for someone who can be part of the synagogue’s future, that is really committed to being a part of the Jewish community here in Tucson,” says Stephanie Roberts, who is co-chairing the search committee with David Polan. It might be an educator with cantorial skills, a cantor with educational and administrative experience, or more than one person.
“We know that we have a lot of local talent and experience, and opportunity and possibility,” she says, “so we have to be really open and flexible to different ways to meet our objective.”
Assistant Rabbi Ben Herman will continue at CAI through June, when his contract expires.
“We’re thankful that he was present here for the three years. He did much to enable us to continue to move forward. As our models change and as his needs and professional growth continue to evolve, we do want to see him successful as he continues his journey,” says Eisen.
For more information, email CAI. Search.Committee@gmail.com.