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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

New committee to head search for Jewish Chaplain

Published: December 7, 2007
Section: News

A new committee will be installed to head the search for a new rabbi on campus, sources from the Chaplaincy have said. The position has been vacant since the departure of Rabbi Allan Lehmann last spring.

Following the dissolution of negotiations with Rabbi Elizabeth Goldstein, Senior Vice President Jean Eddy has announced “the formation of a new search committee to find a full-time rabbi for Brandeis,” said Father Walter Cuenin of the Chaplaincy.

“The previous search was one that was thought of to fill with a part-time person and we may still find a part-time person to fill in for an interim basis,” said Hornstein Program Professor Larry Sternberg.

Discussing the recent visit by Rabbi Goldstein, Sternberg said “it was decided by both of us and that it wasn’t a good fit for a variety of reasons,” including problems accommodating the dates for the beginning and span of her term.

Because of this, the search has changed focus. “This is a new search for a full-time person,” added Sternberg. “Part of the outcome of the [previous] search was the decision to search for a full-time person.”

“In essence, we’ve gone back to the drawing board,” said Cuenin. “In the meantime, we’re hoping to have a few local rabbis fill in for the remainder of the semester, while we search around the country for a full-time rabbi.”

According to Cuenin, “our hope is by the beginning of the next academic year there will be a new full-time rabbi at Brandeis.” Stating that a one-year search is typical of most congregations, “we feel pretty confident that with the activities of Hillel and the local rabbis here, we can spend the time finding the right rabbi for the university.”

The Chaplaincy held an open forum regarding the search on Dec. 6, which was met with no attendance. Another forum will be held this weekend. Still, Sternberg said, “our goal is to listen.”

Students were hopeful that the rabbi selection would occur soon. “I don’t need it to be a woman or a man, but it needs to fit everybody,” said Ariella Herman ’11. “Everybody has to feel comfortable with the new rabbi.”

“We’re very confident we’re going to find a wonderful person,” said Sternberg. “I think it’s going to attract the attention of a lot of the best people in the country.”

During the search “I really learned of the richness and complexity of the Jewish faith,” added Cuenin. “Finding the right person is worth taking some extra time.”

Editor’s Note: Alison Channon contributed to this report.