There is so much for which we are grateful. This week I have the honor of sharing with the Temple Chai family that our Special Congregational Vote overwhelmingly approved the selection of Rabbi Emily Segal to be our next Senior Rabbi.
Getting to know Rabbi Segal through the search process has been a joy. Rabbi Segal’s warmth, intelligence, vision, energy, excitement, and passion for Temple Chai are unmistakable in every interaction with her. I know she will lead us to great places.
Rabbi Segal will be with us full-time starting on July 1st.
A special thanks goes to my co-chair Helen Holden, whose leadership throughout this process has been extraordinary as well as every member of the Search Committee, each of whom spent dozens of hours working through both developing and implementing the process which produced such a wonderful result. Finally, we want to express our gratitude to Rabbi Simon, Rabbi Koppell, Cantor Wolman, and the entire Temple Chai team for their outstanding leadership during a challenging time. Our debt to them is incalculable.
I hope you share my excitement about this new chapter for Temple Chai. We could not have found a better rabbi to lead us as we move forward. Please see below for a message from Rabbi Segal.
David Weiner, President
We are delighted to share with you that the Temple Chai Senior Rabbi Search Committee and Board of Directors are unanimously and enthusiastically recommending that the congregation approve Rabbi Emily Segal as our new Senior Rabbi.
The congregation will vote on Rabbi Segal’s appointment electronically, from January 23-25, 2022. Stand by for details about how to participate.
Many of you had an opportunity to meet Rabbi Segal during her visit to Temple Chai. The feedback we received was not just overwhelmingly positive but extraordinary. For example, 94% of Temple members found that she had “exceptional” leadership skills, and in no category did she receive less than 92% “exceptional” ratings. Here are a few things your fellow congregants had to say about Rabbi Segal:
We can’t wait for you to get to know Rabbi Segal better, both in advance of the congregational vote and, we hope and expect, in the years to come.
About Rabbi Emily Segal
Rabbi Segal is a visionary and transformational leader, currently serving as Rabbi of Aspen Jewish Congregation in Aspen, Colorado. In five growth-filled years in Aspen, Rabbi Segal spearheaded the creation of a new system for recruitment, welcoming and retention of members, leading to a 65% increase in annual new members. She partnered with the congregation’s lay leadership to reinvent the role of the Board and committees. A gifted teacher, Rabbi Segal’s adult education classes were a highlight of the congregational calendar. And her connection with children and teens is unmistakable; under her leadership, post-B’nai Mitzvah retention increased from 15% to 60%.
As Co-President of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, Rabbi Segal is a national leader of the Reform Movement, playing a central role in addressing some of the most complex issues facing our community. She co-created a landmark Family and Medical Leave Policy & Resource that is being used throughout, and beyond, the Reform Movement.
Rabbi Segal was selected for the Balfour Bricker Social Justice Fellowship from the Religious Action Center, and the Clergy Leadership Fellowship from CLAL and Hazon. She is currently completing an Executive Scholar program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.
Before Aspen, Rabbi Segal served as Associate Rabbi at Temple Jeremiah in suburban Chicago where she provided leadership to a 900-member congregation.
About Our Process
The recommendation from the Senior Rabbi Search Committee and the Board of Directors is the culmination of an eight-month long process.
A Search Committee that reflected the diversity of our membership -- with participation from Jews by Choice, ECC parents, seniors, LGBTQIs, Jews of Color, along with those that have participated in Mussar and our educational programs -- came together in April for intensive training in how to recognize and avoid implicit basis in the search process. In May and June, the Committee, with the help of a large Advisory Committee, defined the criteria it would use in evaluating rabbinic candidates.* In June and July we prepared the application material to submit to the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), which manages the search process.
*These were the following: Warm and welcoming presence; Inspirational for community; Can provide innovative spiritual programming; Grow and understand Judaism for 21st century; Imagine a sustainable future; Fundraising Experience; Attract and retain families with children and teenagers.
The process picked up steam in September, when resumes began coming in. We were quite pleased to receive applications from 15 rabbis. We made a first cut, and during September and October the Search Committee conducted first interviews with six candidates. In early November we had second interviews with four of the candidates and selected the two finalists.
The finalists each visited Temple Chai in December. The Search Committee worked hard to design visits that allowed as many congregants as possible to see the candidates in as many different settings as possible. After the visits, the Search Committee sought feedback from congregants, and worked to evaluate the two finalists. The Committee brought the Board of Directors, as noted above, a unanimous and enthusiastic recommendation that we offer Rabbi Segal the position as Senior Rabbi of Temple Chai.
The Board has now added its own recommendation, and the decision moves to a vote of the full membership. (Under our bylaws, hiring a new Senior Rabbi requires approval by a vote of the membership.)
We want to acknowledge and thank the hard-working members of the Senior Rabbi Search Committee:
We will hold the Congregational meeting on January 23, and the vote from January 23 to January 25. Given the reemergence of the COVID virus, we will conduct the meeting and election electronically. We will share information about the logistics of voting soon; probably next week.
In the meantime, we hope you will begin to learn more about Rabbi Segal. Here is a link to her website (which includes a number of her recent sermons).
We could not be more excited about the possibilities that this new chapter holds for Temple Chai. Thank you for your continuing support.
David Weiner, President, Co-Chair, Senior Rabbi Search Committee
Helen Holden, Co-Chair, Senior Rabbi Search Committee