Congregation Beth El (“CBE” or “Beth El”) is looking for a full-time solo rabbi to be the spiritual and religious leader of our congregation.  We do not have a cantor so the position envisions the rabbi as the leader of services (along with congregational participation, which we not only encourage but pride ourselves on) and sole clergy.

Ideally we would love to find a permanent rabbi, but we are also mindful of the potentiality of a future merger within the local Conservative community. Therefore, we are open to filling this position on an interim basis.

In either event, a rabbi who has experience with transition would be most beneficial, as ours is a congregation that feels itself to be in transition. That is not an easy landing spot for a new rabbi, but it is important that he or she understand it upfront. We are looking for someone who will embrace the challenge and become engaged with the congregation in its journey forward. We are looking for someone to work with us in visioning our future, a leader who will provide guidance and support for the congregation during these challenging times. We need a rabbi who is committed to collaborating with us in preserving what is best about us, building cohesiveness amongst our Beth El family, and lending a guiding hand toward finding our way to a better tomorrow for CBE.

At the same time, ours is a congregation that offers the opportunity for change, a chance to be an integral part of a community in the process of reinventing itself. While the synagogue, like any institution, can become stuck in its ways in certain respects, CBE finds itself now in a position where innovation and creative thinking have taken on a new urgency. In light of demographic trends in the Jewish community, reflected both locally and across the country, now is an optimal time to seize the initiative to rethink and reformulate how best to serve our congregation and our community. Our new rabbi along with our board will work together toward visualizing the changes needed to achieve these goals and helping us to implement them.

The rabbi’s principal focus will lie in providing direction and stewardship to the congregation in pastoral, spiritual, ritual and educational matters. We view strengthening the bonds of our Beth El community to be an integral part of the rabbi’s leadership role. The ability to motivate the congregation from the pulpit, to furnish guidance and instruction to members in all of the various aspects of synagogue life, and to inspire by the power and persuasiveness of his or her example are key components of rabbinic leadership.

Our current rabbi is leaving at the end of June so we are aiming for a July 1, 2024 start date.

Timing Expectations: Full-time position starting July 1, 2024
Community Description:

Beth El is located in Norfolk, VA, near the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Beach, an area referred to locally as the Tidewater region or Hampton Roads. It sports a mild climate and Southern hospitality. One of the outstanding features of our geography is what we like to call the ‘best of the four seasons:’ spring and fall are simply glorious; we’re far enough south to appreciate an occasional snowfall without worrying about becoming Buffalo or Minneapolis; and we’re far enough north to enjoy summer weather without sweltering like the folks in the Delta or on the Bayou.

As for the people, there is much truth in that old cliché about Southern hospitality. People here are genuinely friendly and polite, quick to make a newcomer feel at home. The lifestyle is more relaxed than you will find in a major metropolis, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s slow. It’s home to the United States Navy’s Fleet Forces Command as well as the campuses of several colleges and universities. Hampton Roads pulses with the youthful energy and openness to creative change that comes from the influx of people from all over the country and from every walk of life.

Another attractive niche is our size. The Tidewater area is comprised of several independent cities, each with a distinct personality but all of which blend together to provide the advantages of a more cosmopolitan feel. Norfolk itself is a city of some 250,000 people, while the Hampton Roads area boasts a population of approximately 1.8 million. It’s a bit like our weather in that it creates an enticing mix: big enough to offer many of the benefits of a larger metropolitan area, yet small enough to still feel local and accessible. Our region provides a wide range of cultural offerings, including museums and historical landmarks, music venues showcasing everything from opera to country music to hip-hop, beautiful beaches, waterways galore (with plentiful fishing and boating options) and several exciting dining scenes.

Economically, Hampton Roads attracts a diverse array of companies in sectors ranging from information technology to logistics to manufacturing, and is home to the fastest-growing port on the East Coast. These sound economic fundamentals provide for an affordable lifestyle: local housing prices and other important cost-of-living metrics are significantly below the national average. Naval Station Norfolk – the world’s largest naval base – along with representatives of all other service branches give the region a strong military presence, including a prominent Jewish military community. At the same time, the region boasts the largest concentration of college students in Virginia, which together with the military service personnel ensures a youthful vibe as well as a steady, renewable flow of young talent in our area.

• We are among the oldest, if not the oldest, continuously operating synagogues in the region, having served the local Jewish community for almost 175 years. (Fun fact: CBE and the State of California are the same age!) We have families in our congregation who have been with us for as many as six generations. We are connected to the very roots of what “being Jewish” means in the Hampton Roads region. We continue to embrace and represent the values of the Jewish community as we have done for over a century and a half.
• At the same time, we are a congregation that prides itself on its warmth and openness. Hampton Roads is a region that, owing in significant part to the strong Navy presence, has a sizeable transient population, and CBE provides an abiding presence for newcomers and those who may not be looking to lay down roots. We also seek to connect with our neighbors of differing faiths. We understand interfaith outreach to be an important part of our purpose here in Norfolk.
• Beth El has long been a stalwart of the Conservative movement in Norfolk, representing, as it were, the Conservative voice to speak to Jewish individuals and families in search of the right choice for them. Given our prominence and history, the rabbi at Beth El, by virtue of his or her position, immediately becomes a recognized leader in our local Jewish community as well as a leader of the Jewish community in the greater Tidewater region.

Work Remotely: no
  • We need our rabbi to prioritize and embody the spiritual growth and connection of our congregants. Essential skills for providing pastoral counseling and care are a must along with having a knack for leading services with poise and depth. Management skills to lead, participate and work as a team are also sought after.
  • We are aware of the many areas that need support and the right rabbi will guide us.
    • Beth El needs a rabbi who understands the need for and is committed to the care a rabbi is meant to provide.  We desire a person who will connect with congregants not just in sick or critical times, but one who will genuinely develop relationships, seek to meet all members where they are spiritually, and teach and guide with devotion and discretion. We need a rabbi who will take the initiative to counsel and comfort congregants in times of death and critical needs as well as during life’s transitions.
    • Saturday morning Shabbat services are the main, weekly gatherings at the synagogue. We seek a rabbi who will lead services creatively and inclusively, allowing and encouraging congregants to participate. We are also seeking a public speaker who is articulate and inspirational, someone who can frame contemporary issues in a compelling way while providing depth by drawing on Judaism’s rich traditions and liturgy.
    • In addition, we seek a team player who prioritizes working together by actively engaging, listening and following through with staff and congregants.
    • Beth El seeks a rabbi who will lead the congregation by example in thinking and living Jewishly. We desire a rabbi who will bring creative programming ideas and work with congregants of various ages to help develop and instill Jewish faith and customs.
Position Start Date: July 1, 2024

Major medical covering rabbi & family
4 weeks paid vacation
FMLA 12 weeks unpaid in accordance with law.
Convention/Education/Rabbinical dues allowance to $1,500
Up to $15,000 relocation reimbursement

Salary Range: $160,000 - $180,000
Send resumes and cover letter to:

Congregation Beth El
c/o Mark Delevie, Search Committee Chair

About Congregation Beth El

Congregation Beth El is an innovative and inclusive synagogue. It was established in 1850 and was a charter member of the USCJ. CBE is the largest Conservative synagogue in the area and is made-up of a warm and committed congregation, some of whom are second- to sixth-generation members. It follows a strategic plan based on four pillars: Sacred Community, Social Engagement, Lifelong Learning and Fiscal Responsibility.

The following are the core values and principles which guide the actions of our congregation at all times, independently of clergy, lay leadership or other internal or external forces:

  1. From Generation to Generation (L’Dor Va’Dor)
  2. Community and Holy Relationships (Kehillah U’Kesharim Betzelem Elohim)
  3. Conservative and Egalitarian (Masorti V’Shivyoni)
  4. Outreach and Welcoming (L’Kiruv V’Hachnasat ’Orchim)
  5. Deeds of Loving Kindness (Gemilut Chasadim)
  6. Lifelong Learning (Talmud Torah)
  7. Prayer (Tefillah)
  8. Charity and Repairing the World (Tzedakah and Tikkun ‘Olam).

Our mission is to cultivate an active and engaged sacred community built on the strengths of relationships, innovation and outreach. Congregation Beth El brings to our lives the joy and wisdom of Judaism through innovative, creative and spiritually enriching programs and services.

In short, our mission statement is: Sharing Judaism. Enriching Lives.

We are a community, and feel strongly that relationships form the cornerstone of successful, healthy communities. One of our core values and principles is Community and Holy Relationships, so the very essence of relationship building and maintenance is hard-wired into our mission. We seek to cultivate an active and engaged sacred community built significantly on the strengths of relationships. We have a Kiddush luncheon following every Saturday Shabbat service, and usually an Oneg on Friday nights, in order that members can break bread together and get to know each other. We regularly feature programming to encourage members to socialize together, outside of formal services or educational activities. Of course, the latter also deepen relationships; whether at a minyan, over weekly services or Lunch and Learn sessions, out on the trails of our beautiful local parks or at someone’s home, our commitment to spiritual enrichment and lifelong learning is grounded in members coming together in their desire to experience the journey together.

We view our rabbi’s role as critical to the successful realization of this goal. Our educational programs, whether for adults or children, envision the rabbi as an active participant in the process, and not merely as the presiding instructor; the aim is to build relationships between the members and their rabbi as well as among all involved beyachad. To the same end, we believe that the rabbi’s encouragement and facilitation of participation by congregants in our weekly services greatly strengthens our communal ties. One-on-one and other pastoral interactions between the rabbi and congregants are of great importance to us at Beth El, and in these, too, we seek to foster the deepening of the bonds we share. In all that we do, relationship building is prioritized and the high value we place on community emphasized and underscored.