Interim Rabbi Job Description for Congregation Beth Elohim, Acton, MA
Working collaboratively with the CBE board of directors and the CBE staff, the interim rabbi’s roles will include the following priorities as identified by our congregation:
Religious and Spiritual Leader – The rabbi will work with CBE’s cantor, ritual committee, choir director, and interested members to enhance spirituality and instill Jewish values in a positive way. Embrace CBE’s religious model and ritual policies in cooperation with CBE’s board.
Lead Erev Shabbat (including Tot Shabbat and Ruach Family Services), Shabbat morning services, lead mincha, and festival/holiday services
Ability to lead services in person, online, and in a hybrid (live and zoom) setting
Provide meaningful, spiritual, and intellectually stimulating sermons
Collaborate with the cantor to plan services and with the cantor and choir director to plan musical services and programs
Life Cycle Officiant – The rabbi will be involved with congregants during the range of Jewish lifecycle events. The rabbi should welcome and support Interfaith and LGBTQ+ families in these lifecycle events consistent with CBE religious models and ritual policies in ways that foster inclusion.
Officiate at baby namings or brit milah ceremonies in the synagogue or in the homes of congregants
Co-coordinate CBE’s B’nai mitzvah program with the CBE cantor
Work with B’nai mitzvah students & families including writing d’var Torah, a rehearsal with students and families on the bima, answering families’ questions, reviewing service program
Support B’nai mitzvah tutors in collaboration with the cantor
Teach a bi-weekly confirmation class (ideally)
Officiate at congregant weddings, including those of Interfaith and LGBTQ+ couples in accordance with CBE ritual policy
Officiate at congregants’ funeral ceremonies
Officiate at services during shiva in congregants’ homes
Facilitate Jewish conversion of adults and children
Pastoral Counselor – The rabbi will see their role of counselor, healer, and spiritual caretaker to be core duties.
Hold posted office hours for congregants
Respond in a timely manner to congregant needs
Counsel families in mourning
Call/visit sick congregants
Support and work in conjunction with the Chesed Committee
Internal Community Supporter – The rabbi should be a visible presence in order to connect with our diverse congregation both formally and informally. The rabbi should foster cohesion and inclusion by motivating adults, teens, and children to be involved in congregational life.
Have excellent interpersonal skills and connect with potential, new, and continuing members
Support interfaith and LGBTQ+ members
Participate collaboratively in weekly CBE staff meetings
Attend monthly CBE Board of Directors meetings and communicate regularly with Board President(s) and board members
Educator – The rabbi will be actively involved in the Religious School, Early Learning Center, and Adult Education.
Collaborate with the CBE Religious School Director and the CBE Early Learning Center Director, available for occasional consultation on religious questions.
Co-lead monthly Tot Shabbat and Erev Shabbat Family Services with the Director of Education.
Interact with the ELC children and staff
Interact with religious school classes and be available to support and counsel religious school teachers when necessary
Lead quarterly B’nai mitzvah family classes with 6th-grade families
Collaborate and advise in the planning of adult education classes (ideally)
Communicator – The rabbi should be an effective and compelling speaker with excellent communication skills.
Connect with community leaders in the local public schools, police, and community
Connect with local spiritual and religious leaders
Use the Internet to communicate with the congregation, for instance, in our synagogue newsletter, in email, and on our website
Use online communication and scheduling tools: for example, email, messaging, and video conferencing
Transition Guidance and Assistance – The interim rabbi will work to advise lay leaders in articulating a vision for what the CBE community desires in our next rabbi. Work with the CBE Board, transition committees, staff, and other lay leaders to affect that goal.
Personal Qualities – The interim rabbi should have the following personal qualities, which we believe to be most important to our congregation:
Approachable and Available – The interim rabbi should be a visible presence and be available in an informal way as part of the fabric of everyday synagogue life.
Embrace Diversity – The rabbi should be comfortable embracing a congregation with varying levels of Jewish observance. The interim rabbi should be comfortable interacting with all ages, interfaith families, and LGBTQ+ members, and embrace both matrilineal and patrilineal descent.
Inspiring and Enthusiastic
Sensitive / Good Listener
Sense of Humor, not essential, but wouldn’t hurt!
The CBE interim rabbi position is intended to be a full-time, onsite position. We are open to discussing a part-time arrangement.
While collaborating with CBE’s staff is essential to the interim rabbi’s responsibilities, we do not expect the interim rabbi to have supervisory or management responsibilities with respect to CBE’s staff.
Local travel is required, for example, to visit congregants during shiva and to attend various community events.
Acton is a beautiful suburban New England town, twenty‐one miles west‐northwest of Boston and just west of historic Concord, Massachusetts. In 2015, Money Magazine named Acton the 11th best place to live in the country. There are 21 conservation areas spanning over 1,650 acres of woods, ponds, trails and arboretums. Acton provides a wide range of social services, has several community theater groups, provides numerous opportunities for recreation, and a renowned children’s museum. The town’s proximity to Routes 495 and 2 and the South Acton commuter train station heading into Boston make Acton commuter‐friendly. The ethnically diverse population of 22,000 live mostly in single‐family homes, but there are many condominiums and rental options as well. The population is well educated and there is a very low rate of unemployment. http://www.acton‐ma.gov/
Acton is a short drive to the greater Boston Jewish Community, the 4th largest Jewish community in the US.
There are at least 4 Jewish Day Schools within 30 miles of the synagogue.
• There is a JCC in Newton, approximately 23 miles away.
• Trader Joe’s in Acton carries Kosher meat. There are several Kosher options in Brookline and Newton, both about 40 minutes drive from Acton.
Rabbinical ordination or cantorial investment and a college education
Able to assist the congregation through the transition to a permanent rabbi
Skills in pastoral counseling
Experience and comfort with diverse religious observances including those with interfaith families
Skills in officiating life cycle events: funerals, shiva minyans, baby namings, b’nai mitzvah services, and must be comfortable doing so in accordance with our Interfaith policy
Openness to officiating at Interfaith and LGBTQ+ weddings consistent with CBE ritual policy
Skills in problem solving, relationship building, and successful communication
The Rabbi’s personal observance should be in line with CBE ritual policy and be a role model for the congregation.
Comfortable with online communication, email, texting, zoom
In addition, the following skills and traits are desirable:
Experience with serving as an interim rabbi, or as a congregational rabbi in at least one other congregation.
Has experience working with synagogue boards and lay leaders
Have a mastery of synagogue skills
Comfortable with online communication, email, texting, zoom
Medical Insurance Stipend, Pension (negotiable), Cell Phone, Parsonage Certification, Professional Development Allowance, Tuition Credit for Pre-School and Religious School
About Congregation Beth Elohim, Acton, MA
We are an Independent, progressive synagogue with the following strengths:
Sense of Community: We are welcoming, supportive, and energetic. Our Chesed Committee does incredible work to support our members in times of need, while online & hybrid services, programs, and events, and weekly newsletters keep us connected, even during a global pandemic.
Religious Diversity: As an unaffiliated congregation, we are committed to respecting different levels of observance, traditions and religious identity. We have highly participatory Shabbat services in a variety of styles, weekday afternoon minyan, and multiple Torah study groups.
Love of Learning: We have a joyful and vibrant Religious School and Early Learning Center preschool, and many teen volunteers who continue to participate after Confirmation. Our Adult Education Committee, Brotherhood, and Sisterhood constantly offer exciting and stimulating programs.
Jewish Values in Action: We are a progressive and inclusive community. Our Na’aseh Initiative embodies the values of tikkun olam and tzedek, taking action to support basic human rights, civil rights, social justice, and environmental protection. We have the largest array of solar panels of any faith community in Massachusetts, providing clean energy to our facilities and lower income families in the surrounding community. For more information about our core values click here https://www.bethelohim.org/mission-and-vision.
Creativity & Talent: We have a wonderful choir and outstanding annual Purim Shpiel, and our talented members enhance many events and programs.
We are proud that our community is diverse in many ways. We are welcoming to all, regardless of age, race, gender, economic or family status, ethnic background, mental or physical ability, or sexual orientation.
We are an inclusive and affirming community whose LGBTQ+ membership has grown over the past several years, and we have support for LGBTQ+ adults and children as well as ongoing programming on LGBTQ+ topics.
A substantial portion of our congregation consists of interfaith families, who are welcome in all aspects of synagogue social and religious life. We recognize patrilineal descent, and our Ritual policy allows non-Jewish partners and parents to participate in a meaningful way in all life-cycle events.
We have members who have been at CBE for over 40 years and others who have just recently joined. We take pride in our multi-generational nature.
We are an egalitarian Jewish community that is diverse in many aspects of synagogue life. Our congregants come from a variety of Jewish backgrounds, and our services reflect that diversity in drawing from Conservative and Reform ritual practice. We welcome people of varying backgrounds including interfaith and LGBTQ+ families and members. All our services are a hybrid of in-person and Zoom participation, in the spirit of remaining as inclusive as possible.
We offer weekly Friday night and Saturday morning Shabbat services, as well as an afternoon minyan three days a week. Our Friday night services rotate through a variety of styles each month, including a Tot Shabbat & Family Ruach Service, a Musical Service with instruments, a “Power Hour” early Erev Shabbat service, and a more traditional Kabbalat Shabbat service.
Saturday morning Shabbat services are egalitarian/Conservative, accompanied by an hour of Torah study. When there are b'nai mitzvah, Shabbat morning service is more consistent with Reform practice.
CBE has a volunteer choir that participates in High Holiday services, occasional Friday night services, b’nai mitzvah services and is the centerpiece of one musical Shabbat service each year.
We use a variety of prayer books for different services, as reflects the diverse religious background of our community. For Friday evenings we use Chaveirim Kol Yisraeil and Siddur Hadash, on Saturday mornings we use Lev Shalem and Siddur Hadash, for High Holidays we use a modified version of B’Sefer Chayim, and our chumash is Etz Hayim.
All synagogue staff positions report to the CBE Board of Directors. Our staff includes our CBE Rabbi, Mike Rothbaum; Cantor, Sarra Spierer; Synagogue Administrator, Shoshana Zuckerman; Education Director, Beth Goldstein; and Samantha Valente-Philips, our ELC pre-school Director.
Rabbi Michael Rothbaum became our spiritual leader in 2017. He is a graduate of the pluralistic Academy of Jewish Religion in New York (AJR-NY) where he received his Rabbinic S’michah (ordination) in 2006. He graduated from the New College of Florida in 1997 with a BA in Public Policy/Economics. He is committed to the Jewish imperative of r’difat tzedek – the command to pursue of justice – and before coming to CBE he had already worked in Jewish communities for over 20 years as youth director, rabbi/educator, and pulpit rabbi, as well as serving as Co-Chair of the Bay Area Regional Council of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. His writing has been included in the Forward, Tikkun, Sojourners, Alma, Ha'aretz, and the anthology, Peace, Justice, and Jews: Reclaiming Our Tradition. Since joining us, Rabbi Mike has been nominated to the board of the New England Jewish Labor Committee, and the rabbinic advisory committee of Boston-based JALSA (Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action).
Cantor Sarra Spierer joined Congregation Beth Elohim in 2007 as our first pastoral associate and cantor. She was awarded her Cantorial degree from Hebrew College in Newton, MA. Cantor Sarra earned a Masters’ degree in Jewish education and completed a training program in Clinical Pastoral Education at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Cantor Sarra is a member of the Cantors Assembly and the New England Board of Cantors. Here at Congregation Beth Elohim, Cantor Sarra serves as a pastoral and spiritual resource for our community. She enhances our prayer through music, enjoys creating opportunities for congregational participation on the bimah, supports the teachers and students of our Religious School in the learning of prayer melodies and Torah trope.
In 2018 we welcomed Beth R. Goldstein, RJE, as CBE's Director of Education and Community Engagement. Beth has been a Jewish educator for over fifteen years, teaching students from kindergarten through high school and developing religious school curriculum and family education programs. She has also been a soloist at several synagogues. A graduate of Brandeis University, Beth holds a Master of Arts in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College Institute of Religion and a Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service from the School of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Beth believes her role as a Jewish Educator is to help each person find his or her own Jewish path while connecting to others in the community.
Early Learning Center Director
Samantha “Sam” Valente-Phillips assumed the role of Director of the CBE Early Learning Center on March 14, 2022. She previously served as Assistant to the Director and a teacher in our Parparim (preschool) Class. Sam attended Brandeis University where she worked at the Lemberg Children’s Center. She has worked for a non-profit organization that trained and provided services to families interested in fostering and/or adopting children who were currently in the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. After a few years of active participation as a parent of the JCC Early Learning Center in Acton, Sam was offered a teaching position with the JCC and remained on the job as it transitioned to the CBE ELC. In her time at CBE, she has earned her Infant/Toddler Lead Teacher, Preschool Lead Teacher, and Director 1 certifications. For more information about CBE’s Early Learning Center, click here http://cbeelc.org.