We are a 117-year-old congregation located in historic Gloucester, MA, a coastal community of 30,000 on Cape Ann, 40 miles north of Boston. We are looking for a rabbi who will model and reinforce the values of warmth, caring, joyful service and humor that define our community’s approach to Judaism. We are a welcoming and financially secure congregation with a reputation for friendliness and inclusion. Our membership of 200 families is diverse in religious observance/education and family composition, with a growing number of interfaith families.
Qualities and competencies we seek in our new rabbi:
- Strengthening Community
- Excels at establishing meaningful relationships with congregants of all ages.
- Engages younger families and younger lay leaders and offers creative ways to drive their participation.
- Works productively and inspires lay leaders in all aspects of Temple life.
- Expands opportunities that deepen connections among members.
- Has a sense of humor and optimism.
- Ritual and Religious Experiences
- Creates joyful and participatory worship experiences including those on Shabbat, Festivals and weekly minyanim.
- Works with our visiting Cantor to create meaningful High Holiday services.
- Chants Torah and perhaps Haftarah for Shabbat and Festival services supported by a team of volunteers.
- Delivers thoughtful Divrei Torah and sermons.
- Identifies opportunities to weave music into all aspects of services and celebrations, and welcomes Music Director’s participation and collaboration.
- Engages members with meaningful life-cycle ceremonies, from b’rit milah and namings to b’nei mitzvah, weddings, funerals and shiva minyans.
- Recruits and trains lay ritual leaders to help lead services and ensure Torah and Haftarah readers are assigned for weekly services.
- Demonstrates love of Jewish ritual, prayer, culture, history, traditions and teachings and a passion to share this knowledge.
- Creates and implements, in partnership with lay leaders, robust educational and cultural programs for all segments of the community.
- Happily and regularly participates in the Sunday and Tuesday sessions of Sylvia Cohen Family Learning Project (our religious school) as a teacher, a leader and creator of relationships with our kids and their families.
- Supervises, supports and collaborates with our Director of Family Learning to build on our outstanding curriculum.
- Instills in congregants and our schoolchildren a love and respect for Judaism.
- Offers programs that engage congregants in learning about the State of Israel and exploring their relationship
- Pastoral Care
- Provides guidance in managing life transitions and challenges for individuals.
- Provides comfort to all who are ill and grieving and their families.
- Directs lay leaders and community volunteers on how and when to offer assistance to members in need.
5 . Tikkun Olam
- Seeks ways for members to work together on issues of social justice and environmental issues.
- Partners with Jewish, local churches, and nonprofit organizations to undertake projects that demonstrate commitment to tikkun olam.
- Represents Temple Ahavat Achim to the non-Jewish community on and beyond Cape Ann.
- Serves as Interpreter and representative of all things Judaic for public relations as well as city and cultural events.
- Interacts with city officials and serves as a resource for local Public School administrators as they address cases of anti-semitic student behavior,
- Administration, Finances and Membership
- Supervises the Executive Director, Music Director and Director of Family Learning.
- Has a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility.
- Actively supports efforts to recruit new members.
- Provides a presence on social media and digital platforms that help project a positive image of the congregation beyond the local community
About Our Congregation
Temple Ahavat Achim (TAA) is the only synagogue on Cape Ann in Gloucester, located on an island connected to the mainland by two bridges. We attract members from across the North Shore of Boston as well as members who maintain vacation homes on Cape Ann. We welcome and embrace Jews of all stripes, from “bagel-jews” to those who daven at home every day. While we have recently recruited an Executive Director for the first time in our history, we are a hands-on community led by volunteers.
We are innovative and evolving: In our search for new ways to express our Jewish faith and culture, we have embraced new traditions to be not only contemporary, but authentic. At Hanukkah, we build the world’s only Lobster Trap Menorah in our front yard and invite the larger community to celebrate with us. It symbolizes our deep connection to the historic fishing village where we live.
To comply with the Conservative Movement’s requirement that children born to non-Jewish mothers must undergo conversion before Bar/Bat Mitzvah, we devised an experiential educational program. All children immerse regardless of their ritual status. For those who have a Jewish mother, the ceremony affirms their identity. For those with a non-Jewish mother, the ceremony is a step in conversion. For all of them and their parents, it is a thoughtful discussion about identity in a pluralistic world. While there was concern that the program might be divisive, after several years it has become an anticipated “right of passage” for our teens.
During COVID, we took advantage of the opportunity to help our members be Jewish in their homes by hosting Zoom daily shofar soundings during Elul and nightly Omer counting programs in the spring.
The many authors, artists and musicians among our members host readings, art exhibits and give concerts. We take advantage of our scenic coastline and the robust local arts and culture scene on Cape Ann. We hold services and celebrations on our beaches, clean our beaches as part of “Reverse Taslich” and collaborate with local arts organizations.
We are stable and supportive of our rabbinic leaders: We have been blessed with multiple, long tenured rabbis (11 and 40 years respectively). We have a track record of supporting our rabbis to help them be successful. We are seeking someone to match the continuity of our more than 100 year old congregation and help us envision our long-term future potential.
We are good stewards of our resources: We have a new building, fully paid for, and endowments that supplement our operating expenses, school and building.
We are a close-knit community. We enjoy spending time together and making lasting friendships. Our strategic plan focuses on Relational Judaism to foster meaningful relationships among our members across demographic groupings through prayer, ritual and study and through shared interests and cultural expressions or social justice initiatives.
We are musical: Our members enjoy singing prayers together. Our services feature participation, not performance. Our Alle Brider Band and Chorus lead a Musical Kabbalat Shabbat every month. Our new Music Director is a professional violinist and Klezmer musician who works with the school children, the band, and the chorus. A visiting cantor enriches our High Holiday services.
We are inclusive: Our members are single, married, divorced, widowed, and LGBTQ; Jews of every background as well as people with no religious education or minimal Jewish identity. Our services are egalitarian, with men and women participating equally and with non-Jewish spouses incorporated into life-cycle celebrations and committee roles. We have a dues structure that allows people to pay as they are able. We look for ways to engage our members in actions that reflect and support Jewish values of Learning, Chesed and Tikkun Olam.
We are a resilient community: In 2007, our synagogue burned to the ground. Four years later we opened a new modern temple on the same downtown site; in the interim, we never missed a service or a holiday celebration. Our members show-up in times of crisis and in times of joy.
We are not without our challenges: We have a committed group of members who attend weekly Shabbat services. Yet those traditional services don’t resonate with many of our members who draw meaning and connection to Judaism in other ways. Our other challenge, like so many congregations, is that a significant portion of our congregation is over the age of 60, so we need to find ways to engage the next generation of temple leadership.
Religious and Spiritual Life
Our traditional Shabbat morning services enjoy a consistent weekly attendance of 20-30 regulars both in-person and on Zoom. A larger group participates in our monthly musical Kabbalat Shabbat services. We use Siddur Lev Shalem, Mahzor Lev Shalem la-Yamim Ha-Noraim and the Etz Hayyim Chumash.
Our calendar is filled with holiday celebrations. Except for Rosh Hashana, we observe “one-day chagim” with morning services. Over 100 people share our congregational second-day Passover Seders. Our Simchat Torah, Hanukkah, and Purim celebrations are full of music, dancing and delicious food lovingly prepared by our Kitchen Committee in our kosher kitchen.
Our weekly Torah Study led by our rabbi counts over 30 regulars. We have a strong program to teach our adult members how to read Hebrew and chant Torah, and as a result we now have a growing bench of Torah and prayer leaders. A few years ago we held a joyous group adult Bat Mitzvah. Our family education program is another source of religious education and spiritual inspiration that strengthens the culture of learning in the wider synagogue community. We experiment with practices that deepen spiritual life, such as Jewish renewal services and Jewish meditation.
Family Education - Our Religious School
Our Sylvia Cohen Family Learning Project (SCFLP) is not your parents’ Hebrew school. SCALP fosters authentic and fun learning experiences for children from pre-K through high school, for young adults in their twenties, and for their families. Over the past 12 years, our Director of Family Learning, in collaboration with our rabbi, created this unique program. We start programming days with kavanah-setting and a learner’s minyan for all ages in the school including the parents because we teach through the practice of Jewish traditions. The whole learning community looks at a section from our sacred texts and we “do Jewish” together. We learn not only what the blessings mean but what they mean to us. We create an enthusiastic classroom environment that gives children and their parents a content-rich experience in a way that also fosters community.
Each year our rabbi in conjunction with our lay leaders offer courses on Jewish practices and issues related to Israel and modern Jewish life. In 2022, members participated in the “I Engage Israel” study program of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Over 30 people attended a 14-session course taught by our rabbi entitled “Together and Apart: The Future of Jewish Peoplehood.” This past year, several members traveled together to Israel with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, our local Federation, and our rabbi. Several members joined them in pre-and post educational discussions.
Other examples of recent adult education programs include: study of Rabbi Alan Lew’s book This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared, to deepen our self-reflection during the High Holidays; and, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbors by Yossi Klein Halevi, which furthered our discussions on conflicts within Israeli society. We have also hosted Scholars-in-Residence weekends with rabbinic and academic speakers such as Rabbi Art Green and musician Joey Weisenberg.
The Jewish Community beyond Cape Ann
Our rabbi will be a member of the North Shore Rabbis and Cantors Association. Synagogues of various denominations are located nearby in Beverly, Peabody, Marblehead, Swampscott, Newburyport, Andover, and Haverhill. Chabad has centers in Swampscott, Peabody, Andover and a new one on Cape Ann.
Other local Jewish institutions include Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), the Lappin Foundation, whose mission is to enhance Jewish identity across generations; the Jewish Journal of the North Shore, an independent bi-weekly newspaper distributed free to 15,000 area Jewish families; the Epstein-Hillel School in Marblehead, a Hebrew Day School for Grades K -8; and the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore, with branches in Marblehead and Peabody. Larry Levine’s Kosher Market and Catering is 30 minutes away in Peabody, and there is a kosher bakery at the Stop and Shop in Gloucester.
Our next rabbi will inspire us, teach us and challenge us to ask questions, think deeply about our lives and our responsibilities and to deepen our understanding and appreciation of Jewish traditions, history and values.
We want our rabbi to help us strengthen ties among our members. To do this he/she/they must have excellent communication and counseling skills. He/she/they should be eager to connect with our diverse membership both formally and informally. He/she/they should actively reach out to interfaith, LGBTQ and elderly members and be aware of their needs and translate their concerns to the lay leadership. He/she/they must meet congregants where they are along their spiritual path, accepting different levels of observance; he/she/they must be welcoming to families of all compositions, as well as people curious about Judaism. The rabbi should foster cohesion and inclusion by motivating adults, teens and children to get more involved in synagogue life. We want our rabbi to help us explore our connections with Israel; to study and discuss the history, culture as well as current events, while keeping our minds and hearts open.
We’ve told you something about us, now it’s your turn. We want to know what experiences have shaped you and drawn you to the rabbinate. We want to know what you believe are your strengths and your challenges. Tell us about an experience that challenged/changed you. What kind of leader are you? Why do you think you are a match for TAA?