Temple Beth-El Cantorial Search

Temple Beth-El Cantorial Search

Overview

In May 2023, Temple Beth-El’s long-serving Cantor Julie Berlin’s time with the congregation came to an end. Changes in synagogue leadership are bittersweet; while we are so appreciative of Cantor Berlin’s fifteen years of service and the musical legacy she leaves behind, we are also blessed with a great opportunity to evaluate the congregation’s current needs and search for a Cantor to help lead us forward. 

Our new Cantor will be tasked with not only leading the Congregation in sacred song and prayer at services, but also working with youth, leading our volunteer choir and band, meeting the pastoral care needs of our congregation and so much more. 

While the cantor replacement is in process, an interim cantor will work with the congregation and clergy to support services and educational programming.

Meet our 2023-2024 Interim Cantor Sharon Kohn

Updates

After a robust cantorial search process led by Elaine Kovner and Brandon Henson, the Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the election of Cantor Seth Ettinger as Temple Beth-El’s new cantor. 

Cantor Ettinger comes to us most recently from Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale, Arizona where he served as cantor for the last six years. An avid creator and inventor, he collaborates to bring to life inspiring concerts, new service experiences, and new music. His intertwined love for Judaism and music allows him to create engaging educational programs and events for congregants of all ages. 

Fully ordained and intimately familiar with congregational life, Cantor Ettinger will be a powerful addition to our clergy team, elevating worship, enriching lifecycle events, and enhancing pastoral care. He shares our passion for interfaith programming and brings a flare for fundraising. 

Originally from California, Cantor Ettinger earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from California State University Northridge and a Master’s degree in Jewish Sacred Music as well as Ordination of Hazzan from the Academy for Jewish Religion California.  A published author, poet and composer of both Jewish and secular contemporary music, Cantor Ettinger is also an avid golfer, movie afficionado and fan of ice hockey.

Most importantly, Cantor Ettinger is a warm, easy-to-talk to person, full of stories, knowledge, and a delightful sense of humor. He is also a compassionate listener, holding space for those in his presence. 

We look forward to welcoming Cantor Ettinger, his wife Sarah and their children, Ronen and Georgina, to our Temple family this summer.  

The Congregational Application for Cantorial Placement was submitted to the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) placement department on August 11, 2023. We are now accepting resumes.  

The Process

In March 2023, Temple Beth-El formed a diverse Cantorial Search Committee to assist in the search for a new Cantor. The Cantorial Search Committee will use various techniques to find and make a hire recommendation to the Board of Trustees of a cantor that best fits the qualities identified by the congregation with the goal of employment to start on or before July 1, 2024.

Identifying our Congregation’s needs and desires

The first phase of the search led by the committee included conducting various community engagements to get input from congregation members on what qualities and experience an ideal cantor will have. The committee held diverse focus groups, an online survey, and a community town hall.

Launching the Application

Informed by the community input, the Cantorial Search Committee will draft an application to submit to the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) for cantor placement. The ACC will then work with Temple Beth-El to connect with vetted and qualified candidates interested in the role.

Candidate Review

Qualified and interested candidates will be reviewed by the Cantorial Search Committee. The top ranking candidates will be invited to Temple Beth-El to visit and further showcase their talents while getting to know our clergy, city and community.

Selection and Onboarding

The final task of the Cantorial Search Committee is to select a candidate to recommend to the Executive Committee of the Temple Beth-El Board. After approval, negotiations to hire the selected candidate will take place.

 

Timeline

Temple Beth-El and the Cantorial Search Committee aim to have a qualified, ideal candidate to fill the Cantor position by the end of Summer 2024. However, the committee and Temple Beth-El leadership acknowledge that finding the right candidate for our congregation is a process that may move a bit faster or slower than the timeline outlined. The priority is to find the best fit for the role, and the congregation and clergy will remain supported with guest cantors while the search is still active.

The Cantorial Search Committee will hold a standing monthly meeting during the search, and the following outline of activities will serve as a guide to a timeline:

Timeline

Activity

May 2023

First committee meeting

May-June 2023

Engage congregation for input on candidate qualities and experience

July 2023

Draft and review American Conference of Cantors (ACC) application for cantor placement

August 2023

Finalize and submit ACC application, build pool of applicants

August/September 2023

Build rubric for applicant review

September/October 2023

Review applicants

October/November 2023

Conduct interviews (calls/video meetings)

October/November 2023

Select finalists and coordinate in-person visits/interviews

November/December 2023

Coordinate visit logistics

December 2023/January 2024

Conduct in-person visits/interviews and solicit feedback from stakeholders

December 2023/January 2024

Build consensus among the committee to recommend action to the Executive Committee and may negotiate hire

January/February 2024

Wrap committee work and hand off onboarding/welcoming to the Board/staff

July 2024

New cantor employed at Temple Beth-El

Temple Beth-El Cantorial
Search Survey Results

From the middle of June through July 10, we held a congregational survey to learn what our fellow congregants felt were our priorities. We had 221 responses to the survey.  

  • The top five priorities for the respondents to the survey are:
    • Work with b’nai mitzvah students.
    • Lead worship
    • Offer pastoral care.
    • Lead the adult choir.
    • Work with musical accompaniment.
  • 80% of survey respondent households do not attend a religious school or youth programming.
  • 34% of survey respondent households attend Shabbat services weekly or more than monthly.

Cantorial Search Committee

The Cantorial Search Committee will:

  • Engage the congregation to identify ideal traits and skills desired in a cantor for Temple Beth-El; 
  • Create a description of the ideal candidate as informed by the congregational input;
  • Promote the cantorial search and build a pool of candidates;   
  • Establish interview questions and a scoring matrix to conduct preliminary interviews;
  • Narrow the pool of candidates to a group of finalists using various interview methods;
  • Host in-person visits of finalists to interact with the congregation and community;
  • Build consensus among the committee to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who will officially make an offer of employment. 

 

We will do this work incorporating the values of Kavod–respect, Kehillah–community, and B’tzelem Elohim–we are all made in God’s image.

Committee Members

Claudia Bankler

Brian Chasnoff

Samantha Fischer

Brandon Henson co-chair

Betty Indyk

Elaine Kovner co-chair

Mina Lopez

Rabbi Nathan (ex officio)

Cory Palmer

David Pinansky

Debbie Roos (ex officio)

Jeff Vexler