Sign In Forgot Password

Honoring Rabbi Steven Folberg

CLICK HERE to view a recap of our Gather in Gratitude Weekend and learn more about the ways in which we are honoring Rabbi Folberg for his 33 years of leadership at CBI.

Rabbinic Transition 2024

March 2024

Dear CBI community,

Rabbi Steven Folberg, the beloved senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel since 1991, will transition out of his role at the end of June 2024. 

That means we’ll be seeking a new senior rabbi as we embark on a new phase of our congregation’s history, entering our 150th year serving the Reform Jewish community of Central Texas – a year that will include reimagining our campus while continuing to honor our past.

This is an enormous change for Congregation Beth Israel, and we will be transparent with our community about the process of selecting a new senior rabbi. We’ll keep this page updated with details about the transition. 

Sarah Holland
CBI board president

Corrie MacLaggan
CBI board president-elect and chair, rabbinic transition committee
transition@bethisrael.org


 

TRANSITION TIMELINE

Feb. 28 - April 7: Parlor meetings seeking feedback about our next rabbi


April 12-14: Weekend of events honoring Rabbi Folberg


June: Say goodbye to Rabbi Folberg


July: Interim Rabbi David Young begins at CBI


Early September: Post job application for senior rabbi


Fall: Zoom interviews with candidates


Late 2024 or early 2025: Bring finalists to visit CBI


Winter or spring 2025: Hire a senior rabbi


July 2025: Interim Rabbi Young departs and new senior rabbi joins CBI

 

Committees Supporting the Rabbinic Transition

SENIOR RABBI SEARCH COMMITTEE

This committee will advise the CBI board on who should become our next rabbi.

This amazing group of congregants represents the diversity of the congregation in many ways. They range in age from 22 to 81. They include lifelong Jews and people who did not grow up Jewish. They include Jews of color and representatives of our LBGTQ community; parents of small children, empty nesters and people who are not parents. They include a past president of CBI; a former school board member; experts in law, data science, human resources and real estate; a talented ceramics artist and a stellar shofar blower. 

Nathan Brill
Matthew Caplovitz
Laura Corman
Max Daniller-Varghese
Mimi Garcia
Kal Kallison
Jonathan Lass
Corrie MacLaggan (chair)
Annette Mass
Justin Nelson
Sarah Orman
Mimi Rosenthal
Claudia Sanchez
Melissa Scheinfeld

You may reach the committee at transition@bethisrael.org.
 

TRANSITION COMMITTEE

This committee is dedicated to helping the congregation through the transition from Rabbi Folberg’s final year as senior rabbi to the arrival of an interim rabbi to the settling in of a new senior rabbi.
This group will coordinate with the committee to honor Rabbi Folberg as well as the interim and senior rabbi search committees. The group will also communicate with the congregation and seek input from our members about what we need in our next senior rabbi.

Chair: Corrie MacLaggan

Members: Beber Helburn, Allen Kaplan, Abby Kenigsberg, Jonathan Lass, David Mann, Melissa Scheinfeld, Paula Fisher, Marsha Wilson and Dan Yahiel

 

INTERIM RABBI SEARCH COMMITTEE

Committee Chair: Ed Grauman, transition@bethisrael.org
Vice Chair: Beber Helburn

Members: Allen Kaplan, Abby Kenigsberg, David Mann, Kaitlyn Newell, Sarah Orman and Dan Yahiel.

 

COMMITTEE TO HONOR RABBI FOLBERG

Rabbi Folberg has inspired us, taught us and stood with us at pivotal moments in our lives. Now, we’re working to make sure he knows how much he means to us.

Chair: Jan Soifer, jsoifer@oconnellsoifer.com 

Members: Amy Goodwin, Amy Greenspan, Anna Barkin, Dan Yahiel, Ellen Muskin, Ellie Levine, Esther Teller, Jill May, Jo Kallison, Julia Mickenberg, Lara Zent, Leslie Rosner, Mae Daniller, Marsha Wilson, Mimi Rosenthal, Ruth Pool, Sally Grant, Sally Monroe, Sandi Mann, Sherri Greenberg, Stephanie Solomon, Stephen Portnoy, Susan Floyd, Theressa Lyons, Wendie Abramson, Rachel Slaton, Shelley Silverblatt, Rebecca Silverblatt.

Answers to questions you may have

WHY ARE WE HIRING AN INTERIM RABBI?

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, a Reform leadership organization, recommends bringing on an interim rabbi to help a congregation through the period of transition following the departure of a rabbi.

This interim period is especially important when a rabbi has served a congregation for a long time, as has Rabbi Folberg. Interim rabbis are specially trained to help a congregation process change.

The interim period will give us time to reflect together on what qualities are important for a new senior rabbi. The interim rabbi will not be a candidate for the senior rabbi position.

 

WHAT ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF RABBI FOLBERG’S TENURE?

Four years into his tenure, with CBI experiencing unprecedented growth, Rabbi Folberg oversaw the hiring of Congregation Beth Israel’s first assistant rabbi, Elizabeth Dunsker. Rabbi Dunsker was also the first woman ever to serve an Austin congregation. Under his mentorship, a series of gifted associate rabbis, including Rabbi Benjamin Sternman, Rabbi Cookie Lea Olshein, Rabbi Rebecca Epstein, and Rabbi Sam Rose launched their rabbinic careers and served CBI with distinction. All have gone on to serve at their own congregations across the United States. In that lineage, Rabbi Kelly Levy brings her own unique gifts to our community.

Rabbi Folberg encouraged the creation of CBI’s Alzheimer’s Respite group, Circle of Friends, and spearheaded CBI’s program hosting unhoused families in our building through the Interfaith Hospitality Network (CBI was the only Jewish congregation in Austin to participate). He also provided a steady hand through the expansion of our campus in the late 1990s, including the addition of the Shirley Barish Learning Center and the remodeling of Smith Auditorium and the Koen Foyer. He has been a community leader in connecting Judaism to the protection of the environment, advocating for the installation of solar panels on our Barish Learning Center.

Rabbi Folberg has long been a voice for LGBTQ inclusion at CBI and other Jewish communal spaces. Some of you will remember his Yom Kippur sermon on this subject in 1996 that elicited a standing ovation from the congregation. Today, CBI is recognized throughout Austin as a safe and welcoming space for all, regardless of sexuality or gender identity.

Most recently, we counted on Rabbi Folberg and his CBI colleagues to carry the congregation through the fear and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the arson attack on our sanctuary. Remarkably, even during the COVID-19 lockdown, Congregation Beth Israel managed to thrive and grow.

Beyond his long list of accomplishments, Rabbi Folberg means an enormous amount to each of us personally. He has conducted our weddings, told wise and funny stories to our children, comforted us in times of loss, and inspired us with his teachings. His sermons are legendary, filled with truth, Torah, vulnerability, and humor. And in millions of one-on-one moments over the years, he has given us the gift of deep listening, compassion, and love.

Here's a recent article about Rabbi Folberg in the Jewish Outlook.

WILL RABBI FOLBERG CONTINUE DOING EVERYTHING HE’S DOING THROUGH JUNE 2024?

Yes!

 

WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS AFTER RABBI FOLBERG STEPS DOWN?

Rabbi Folberg will become rabbi emeritus of CBI. 

In addition, he has announced that he has accepted the position of interim rabbi at Falmouth Jewish Congregation in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

 

WHAT DOES A RABBI EMERITUS DO?

Rabbi emeritus is not a formal job description. It is an honorary title that a congregation may bestow upon a rabbi, in appreciation for their past service, when their term of service to the congregation has come to a close. The ongoing involvement of the rabbi emeritus in the life of the congregation, if any, is typically worked out in conversations between the rabbi emeritus and their successor. The Central Conference of American Rabbis recommends that, when possible, the newly named rabbi emeritus take an extended leave of absence from the community to give their successor time to establish themselves with their new congregation.  

 

CAN RABBI DAVID YOUNG, OUR INTERIM RABBI, BE OUR NEXT SENIOR RABBI?

No, he is not eligible for that position. The role of an interim rabbi is to help guide a congregation through a rabbinic transition.

 

CAN RABBI LEVY BE OUR INTERIM OR NEXT SENIOR RABBI?

Because of the important work the interim rabbi must do to help the congregation transition to a new senior rabbi, hiring an interim rabbi from outside the community, without a vested interest in who is hired next, is crucial.

We welcome Rabbi Levy to apply for the senior rabbi position if she chooses to do so. 

 

WHAT DOES THIS TRANSITION MEAN FOR MY CHILD’S BAT MITZVAH IN AUGUST 2024?

We want to make sure that your family’s life cycle event gets the care and attention you deserve. The clergy team will work closely with you to decide who will support you on your important day. We expect to have an interim rabbi in place by summer 2024. 

 

HOW CAN I PLAY A ROLE IN THE SELECTION OF THE INTERIM RABBI OR THE NEW SENIOR RABBI?

The search committee absolutely wants feedback from our congregation about what members want in our next senior rabbi. That’s why we’re holding a series of parlor meetings with members. For those who don’t want to attend a meeting, we are collecting feedback via a survey. For information about the parlor meetings or the survey, email transition@bethisrael.org

Sun, July 21 2024 15 Tammuz 5784