Last week, from the rolling hills of North Carolina, I wrote about some prominent examples of Jewish men behaving badly, and how I think a lot about positive role modeling. Which was a perfect segue for me now to talk about my colleague, Rabbi Greg Harris, who, after an extraordinarily thorough process led by the Clergy Planning Committee (CPC), has been nominated by the Board to be my successor as your Rabbi.
As you may have noticed, I did not play a role in this process – partly to begin on the “letting go” aspects of my retirement, and more importantly to give you free rein to make up your own minds on this important matter. The synagogue leadership, and anyone who asked me, knew from the start that I was strongly in favor of the Rabbi Harris succession plan, and I am pleased that the CPC and the vast majority of congregants who participated in the process came to the same conclusion.
Greg Harris is one of the finest human beings I have ever known. Beyond that, he raises the rabbinate to a higher level through his caring and the communities he builds and the relationships he makes. The experts now think that the key to success for Jewish organizations of all kinds, in this post Pew Survey world, is not in fancy programming or gorgeous facilities but in the quality and quantity of human relationships that people are able to make as they participate in the life of the organization. This is key, and there is nobody stronger at making this happen than Greg Harris.
There was only one year of the thirteen that I have been rabbi of Beth El that Greg was not by my side. Whatever success I can claim I happily attribute to two factors beyond mazal and what I learned in Hillel: 1) Greg’s skills at community and relationship building and 2) the fantastic human resources that Beth El is able to call upon from within its own membership. That would be you. Rabbis come and go, each of us brings different skills and strengths to the work. If we have any brains and self-confidence, we know to surround ourselves with winners (both professional and volunteer) who can do whatever we cannot do and who will make us look good. I have every reason to believe that Greg understands all this, and that Beth El will continue to thrive with him at the helm.
Today I write to let you know that I support Greg to lead Beth El and to tell you why. Later I will ask you to support him in his endeavors so that we can continue to be a community to be proud of. In the meantime, have a good Wednesday. Bill Rudolph
P.S. The decision on whether to promote Greg Harris to (head) Rabbi of Beth El, effective the summer of 2015, will be made at the Annual Congregational Meeting on May 28th at 8:15PM. Please mark your calendar and join me there.