Clergy Monthly Message - Rabbi Pokras
A Season of (Executive Director) Change
Dear Beth Ami Friends,
What are the qualities of a good leader? Our tradition teaches that leaders lead for the benefit and wellbeing of the communities they serve. To do this they need to be responsible, good listeners, and compassionate. Good leaders are creative problem solvers and flexible in their approach, while remaining true to the values of our tradition. They need to lead not only with mind but with heart, and they need to know the people they serve.
For more than twenty-eight years, Janice Rosenblatt has not just been a good leader, but a great leader. She has exemplified all of these traits (and more), and served as a model not only for us, but also as a president of the National Association of Temple Administrators. The executive director’s job is neither simple nor easy, yet she handled it with grace, professionalism and focus.
During one of the first conversations Janice and I ever had, possibly even before my arrival here, she brought up her retirement. Her generous offer was this: “I am ready to retire,” she said, “but will stay for as long as you need.”
Originally, we thought she would stay on for about a year. Janice quickly became not just a colleague, but a trusted friend and advisor. Before long, I asked her to continue for a second, and then a third year. Now, into the fourth year of my rabbinate at Beth Ami, it seems unfair not to honor Janice with retirement, but I will miss her as a colleague even as we continue to grow in friendship.
Of course, it would be impossible for Janice to retire, if just the right person had not come forward to become her successor. Over the past six months, a team of dedicated lay leaders conducted an extensive national search. And, just like in the stories from the rabbis (where ‘Shlomi’ travels the world to find a buried treasure in his backyard), we discovered that the right person had been here all along.
Debbie Ezrin is the right person, at the right time, to build on Janice’s tremendous leadership and help guide us to an even stronger future. As an active Beth Ami member and lay leader, she is committed to our mission and understands the culture of our congregational community. As a C-Suite professional in mission driven non-profits with depth in development, project management, marketing and technology, she is ready for this executive leadership role at Beth Ami. I am confident in her abilities, excited to be her partner, and very much looking forward to what we can accomplish together as she joins our professional team.
When we complete one book of Torah and prepare to begin another, we say chazak chazak v’nitchazek (from strength to strength, we grow in strength). May both Janice and Debbie continue to grow from strength to strength, each in their own ways. And, as they are each sources of strength for Beth Ami, perhaps we might change the traditional phrase just this once: “from Janice to Debbie, Beth Ami grows in strength.”
On behalf of our entire senior team, and with a heart filled with gratitude,
Rabbi Gary Pokras