Rabbinic Search

February 23, 2022

The Beth El Rabbinic Search Committee wishes to inform you that Rabbi David Helfand & his fiancé Rebekah will not be coming to Minneapolis this weekend. We wish Rabbi Helfand the best as he begins his rabbinic career.

The search committee will continue to explore options for filling our Assistant Rabbi position and we will continue to update the congregation in the coming weeks.


February 16, 2022

We want to thank each and every member of our congregation for your tremendous engagement over this past weekend with Assistant Rabbi candidate, Rachel Simmons, and the out-pouring of enthusiasm. 

Yesterday, we learned from Rabbi Simmons that she has accepted a position at Har Shalom in Potomac, Maryland, close to her family. She described the decision as gut-wrenching, as she reflected upon beautiful moments of spirituality, connection and the deep sense of warmth and welcome that our community exuded. 

We are excited to welcome Rabbi David Helfand and his fiancée, Rebekah Johnston, February 24-27, and we wish Rabbi Simmons the best as she embarks on her rabbinate.


January 25, 2022

February is officially “Meet our Next Rabbi Month.” We will have two outstanding candidates visit our synagogue to meet the congregation. Both candidates are graduating this spring from The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, which is the Conservative Seminary in California.

Mark Your Calendars!

Rabbi Rachel Simmons will join us for Shabbat the weekend of February 12

Rabbi David Helfand will join us for Shabbat the weekend of February 26

Lear more about each of these wonderful candidates HERE

Each of them will be here to meet us, teach us, learn with us and get to know what a wonderful community we have. Though the weather will undoubtedly be cold outside, we need to show them how warm we are and impress upon them why Beth El is the place for beginning a rabbinic career.

The full schedule of events for each visit is being coordinated by the search committee, building in flexibility due to the ever-changing COVID situation. Many sessions will be open to the whole congregation, but if you would like to host one of the candidates for the weekend (or just a meal), be a driver for them or contribute air miles to fly the candidates to Minneapolis, please reach out and let us know how you can help HERE.

We are very excited to have found two excellent candidates for our synagogue. Please feel free to contact us at clergysearch@bethelynagogue.org any time with questions or comments.


January 14, 2022

We are excited to provide this update to our entire congregation. In our next communication, we hope to share information with you about specific candidates whom we will be inviting to Beth El to meet everyone in person.

The search committee has been very active. Though the number of applicants is small, (and this is true for all synagogues seeking clergy) the quality has been outstanding. This is a testament to the excellence of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and The Ziegler School in California. Candidates have been warm, thoughtful, articulate and knowledgeable, and very complimentary about Beth El and its impressive legacy. 

The committee’s goal now is to identify the two or three highest-ranking candidates and invite them to spend a Shabbat weekend at Beth El. Over the course of a few days, the candidate(s) and their partners, if applicable, will meet with various groups within the synagogue and the broader Jewish community. In addition, they will share Torah from the Bema on Shabbat, and there will be at least one Zoom opportunity for the whole congregation to meet with the candidate(s) and ask questions.

In this COVID environment, we are planning the visits according to current CDC and synagogue protocols. As the saying goes, “Humans Plan, God Laughs,” so please understand that schedules could change at any moment. Regardless of whether we meet our candidates in-person or via Zoom, we will offer them the warmest of Beth El welcomes.


December 15, 2021

As 2021 draws to a close, the Beth El search committee is actively and enthusiastically engaged in finding our next assistant rabbi. Our goal is to communicate clearly to all potential candidates what a vibrant, spiritual and welcoming synagogue we all know Beth El to be. 

We are pleased to share that we were among the first to present our detailed synagogue summary to the primary Conservative rabbinical schools, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University.  We have begun receiving applications and hope to get more as the search season heats up.

Similar to most facets of our lives, the worldwide pandemic has impacted our search. More rabbis have retired, more congregations are looking for rabbis and, sadly, fewer students are graduating. In short, the demand for assistant rabbis exceeds the supply.

We have been told that of the 23 rabbinical students graduating from JTS/Zeigler – closely divided between men and women – only 14 are interested in pulpit positions.  We will maintain exceptionally high standards as we strive to find a rabbi grounded in both Jewish knowledge and observance and who will add diversity, sensitivity and new competencies to our congregation. We will also explore (with the aid of our clergy) non-traditional sources of candidates that meet our standards. We know that this will attract additional qualified candidates. 

Our committee is poised to act very quickly as great candidates are identified. We may end up bringing some rabbis to Minneapolis during the winter, but feel confident that our warm congregation will help alleviate any fears from non-midwestern applicants. We need everyone to make an effort to engage with the candidates whenever they come into town. This is your synagogue and your rabbi. We need your feedback!

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to the search committee co-chairs, Adrienne Berman and Jerry Ribnick at clergysearch@bethelsynagogue.org.


December 6, 2021

The days are getting shorter, the weather cooler and the Rabbinic Search Committee is working harder! The overall process involves three phases and we are now entering phase two.

Phase l – Listen to the congregation and complete a more-than 40-page description of Beth El’s community and what we are looking for in our assistant rabbi. This was finalized and submitted in late October. 

Phase ll – Receive applications and give each applicant an opportunity to meet with the committee to determine if the candidate is a good fit for our congregation. We begin this process with an initial screening, followed by an increasingly robust series of follow-up interviews.

Phase lll – After the above vetting process, only those candidates who express a serious interest in Beth El’s community and meet our standards will be scheduled for an in-person visit. This third phase entails a number of extended interviews, time on our Bema, and a congregational event that engages the entire congregation in the final hiring process.

As the search proceeds, we are committed to keeping you regularly informed of our progress and to maintaining transparency throughout. Feel free to contact us at clergysearch@bethelsynagogue.org if you have any questions.


October 31, 2021

The recently expanded Search Committee has been working very hard since the High Holy Day update. After hearing from many members through numerous focus groups and other discussions, along with clergy, staff and the board, we have completed an extensive 41 page questionnaire (think SAT’s for a congregation!) that is required by the Rabbinical Assembly to serve as both a job description and job posting for our Assistant/Associate Rabbi position.

There were more requests to join, than slots available for the committee, but we believe that the committee represents our diverse Beth El family and brings together the range of skills required to search for and hire a new rabbi. The committee includes those who are both extensively involved in the synagogue and those whom we hope the new rabbi will be able to reach and engage.

We are ready to post the position and hope to get some immediate interest. The committee will receive applications, review candidates, interview individuals and arrange visits (most likely) in the spring with candidates who appear to be good fits for our shul. Scheduling and coordinating these visits so that the entire congregation has an opportunity to meet the candidates is a key element of the search process. We look forward to your assistance, attendance and feedback during this time!

Todah Rabah to the Rabbinic Search Committee:

Adrienne Berman; Co-chair
Jerry Ribnick; Co-chair
Robyn Awend
Dina Blumenfield
Marty Chester
Jim Cohen
Emma Dunn
Sally Forbes Friedman
Susie Kaufman
Gary Krupp
Brad Ingber
Tyler Rendleman
Gail Rosenblum
Elly Sternberg
Alan Yousha

Ex Officio
Rabbi Alexander Davis
Cantor Ben Tisser
Matt Walzer
Liz Rappaport


September 4, 2021

Beth El is in the process of searching for an Assistant Rabbi to work with Rabbi Davis as a spiritual leader for our synagogue.

Early in the summer, we held congregational listening sessions where individuals shared their insights and hopes. Future phases include crafting a job description, creating a Rabbinic Search Committee, interviewing candidates, hosting candidates for Shabbat and hiring. It is a long process and we hope to have a new Rabbi by July 2022.

As the process unfolds, the Committee will provide regular updates in the Kesher, on the Beth El website and via Beth El’s social media platforms to keep the congregation fully informed and to solicit additional assistance as needed.

Would you like to participate?

Beth El’s congregants are diverse and we are looking for a wide-range of people to help either as full members of the search committee or by contributing their expertise and assistance as needed, especially in the following areas:

Interviewing Candidates
Logistics and Visit Coordination
HR Experience

If you are interested in being involved in this special task please email the committee co-chairs Adrienne Berman and Jerry Ribnick at

Shana Tova u’Metuka,
Adrienne Berman Jerry Ribnick