As a board member for the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts this is an emotional season. Nothing to do with football – our organization’s Executive Director is getting ready to retire after 33 years of incredible service. And like most everything Alan Teperow does, his path to retirement has been planned with concern for various stakeholders of this organization, an organization that has been committed to the mission of Jewish unity since 1941 (for the whole story, read Alan’s book published in 2007 One Community, Many Branches: An Historical Overview of the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts). We're about to close the application process for the new Executive Director position and are at a point where we are both looking back at what SCM has done and to what the next leader will help the organiationaccomplish.
I first met Alan as a second year student in the Hornstein Program for Jewish Professional Leadership at Brandeis – the very same program which he graduated from just a few decades before me. I had been encouraged by one of my professors to attend SCM's Unity Mission – a two day trip to NY where 45 participants from Massachusetts and Haifa hailing from varied denominational backgrounds visit with students and leaders at the flagship institutions that ordain rabbis who will lead the North American Jewish communities. I still recall the barriers that trip broke for me – connecting to people who were so different from me and seeing how much we had in common – and that was thanks to the skilled facilitation and camaraderie of Alan. Those who have attended the Unity Missions, the shabbatons, the Connie Spear Birnbaum lecture, the Kolot learning programs, as well as and the 120 member congregations and minyans all remark about what amazing work SCM does to build bridges. And that has been thanks to the leadership of Alan, so there are some big shoes to fill.
Alan’s retirement was announced last Spring at the SCM’s Annual Tribute Celebration – and was met with a standing ovation in recognition for all of Alan’s work in the Boston Jewish community. But Alan won’t leave his desk at SCM’s Newton office until next fall, September 15th to be exact, and the board is working towards hiring someone by the start of the summer so that the new hire will have time to learn from Alan and work with him to assure a smooth transition. The efforts towards hiring a new Executive Director began a few months back and a committee of volunteers overseeing the process will stop accepting applications on the last day of this month. Several rounds of interviews will then commence – the first being over video and the subsequent ones in person – in an effort to hone in on someone who is the right fit for the culture, the goals and the future of the Synagogue Council of Massachuestts.
If you know of anyone who would be a strong candidate to lead this incredible organization in it’s next stage, please encourage them to apply before the end of January (apply online or ontact firstname.lastname@example.org to submit an application)
And finally, I hope you’ll check out the ever helpful online synagogue directory at www.synagoguecouncil.org and save the date of June 22nd to celebrate Alan Teperow's Retirement at this year’s SCM Tribute Celebration.
Posted by Elisha Gechter, Program Manager of the Wexner Israel Programs at the Harvard Kennedy School who lives in Cambridge with her husband and daughter where they attend the partnership minyan, Minyan Tehillah.