Engaging in a search for the next Hazzan of Chizuk Amuno has been an instructive and meaningful process. As a committee, with your participation and feedback, we learned much about what the Chizuk Amuno community wants for itself as it pertains to its musical and spiritual life. We gained an even greater appreciation for the range and diversity of musical opinions and educational needs within our community and obtained a much stronger understanding of the landscape of cantorial life in 2019.
From the outset, the committee’s mission has been to identify the best Hazzan for the Chizuk Amuno Congregation and Schools. We sought to identify the candidates who are the strongest in their field, and also the most suitable fit for our specific synagogue community. We were proud to present two candidates who we felt best matched the committee’s job description, and the community’s wishes as presented in roundtables and survey.
The extended Shabbat visits from Hazzan Brian Shamash and Hazzan Steve Zeidenberg were met with impressive levels of engagement from so many within Chizuk Amuno and its schools. During these visits, the committee, professional staff, lay leadership, and entire community observed the candidates in classrooms, prayer and conversation. The end product of both visits was a robust portrait of each candidate which allowed the community, clergy, staff and committee to assess the candidate’s compatibility with Chizuk Amuno.
After a thorough period of collecting feedback and reflecting on the implications for the Chizuk Amuno community, and many hours of profoundly introspective discussions, the search committee has decided not to recommend either candidate for hire as our next Hazzan. Each candidate, in their own way, brought to us beautiful music, thoughtful teaching, and deep commitment to Jewish learning. We were moved by the whole-hearted way in which the candidates immersed in the process. As part of its due diligence, the committee considered the opinions from all of our synagogue’s cohorts: among them lay leadership, professional staff, teachers and administrators, students and parents, and of course, participants in prayer and conversation. Ultimately, the committee felt that these various constituencies had not strongly coalesced around either candidate and that neither candidate fully met Chizuk Amuno’s complex and multifaceted needs.
Early in our process, we learned of congregations who chose not to fill the position in the first year, extended their Hazzan search into a second year, and gave themselves the gift of time. There are times when a job position has to be filled quickly, however at Chizuk Amuno we are blessed to have existing strong clergy and lay prayer leadership that provide us that gift of time as we work to identify our next Hazzan. This momentum allows us to continue our search and to apply all that we have learned this past year to move forward. In the coming weeks and months, you will hear more about the structure of prayer leadership and musical life at Chizuk Amuno for next year. But in the meantime, the search continues and the committee hopes that your vital engagement will endure as well.
Hazzan Search Committee Members:
Jenny Gamliel (Co-Chair), Antony Rosen (Co-Chair), Sandy Abramoff, Rabbi Marci Jacobs-Aronchick, Yifaat Asher, Marc Attman, Jay Baraban, Jerry Buxbaum, Jeff Cooper, Arnold Feiner, Judy Gerstenblith, Barry Gittlen, Jane Kahn, Rena Lapidus, Laura Reaven, Erica Schon, Meira Silverstein, Jeff Snyder, Charlee Sterling. Ex-officio: Sandi Moffet, Bob Hallock, Rabbi Joshua Gruenberg, Glenn Easton