Shabbat Shalom!
Dear Co-Congregants,

Greetings! Although it has been less than two weeks since we gathered for our Annual meeting, so much work is going on that I thought a letter was in order.

Rabbinic Plans 5781   Much of the last ten days has been spent working on KHN’s rabbinic plans for 5781. The plan revolves around bringing on a consistent, part-time Rabbi for the coming year  13 KHN young people become Bnai Mitzvah this year, so a significant share of rabbinic time will focus on providing guidance and support for our Bar and Bat Mitzvah families. Other areas of emphasis will be providing pastoral care for congregants and guiding lifecycle events, such as baby namings and funerals. Our goal is that congregants can rely on guidance and support from a consistent Rabbi despite the transition.

This plan is coming together in consultation with the URJ (the organization of Reform synagogues) and the CCAR (the professional organization of Reform Rabbis) to ensure that our framework and expectations of a rabbi in an interim role are sound, will meet our congregational needs and are fairly compensated. Identifying potential candidates in the Seattle area and determining interest and availability is the current step.

It is our hope to have the part-time Rabbi under contract by the end of July to ensure a solid hand-off between rabbis. I will keep the congregation updated as these plans are finalized.

Rabbinic Search Committee       We are also working hard to lay the foundation for the Rabbinic Search for the permanent rabbi. The initial steps are to impanel and charge the Search Committee. That process involves two important elements. We need to select about ten congregants to serve on the committee, and find a mix of people who can approach the search through a range of vantage points, such as members of diverse age groups, family structures, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as Jews by conversion, interfaith families, spiritually focused and Tikkun Olam focused,  West Seattle residing and non-West Seattle residing. If you are interested in serving, please send an email to me by July 1.

A strong committee needs a clear charge. As a Reform congregation, we will base our Rabbinic Search Committee process on the CCAR guidelines and will consult with the URJ and the CCAR about recommended procedures. First and foremost, we want to make sure that every member has the opportunity to make their desires known to the Search Committee, even if they are not on the Committee itself. The search process will invite broad congregational input, have clear milestones and communication, and ensure the committee has the tools and information it needs to discharge its duties effectively on our congregation’s behalf. We plan to brief the membership on the full Rabbinic Search Committee plan by mid-August.

Listening Sessions and All-Congregational Meeting          With all this work coming on-line by the end of August, I am planning listening sessions over the next two months and an All Congregational Meeting for early September. The listening sessions will be announced in the weekly newsletter with various topics. The Congregational Meeting will be a time for us to reflect on the planning completed over the summer, hear out each other’s hopes and worries about the transitions, and turn our attention toward moving forward together in the year ahead. Please do email me if you have specific topics you would like to see included.

Annual Meeting Reflection        Finally, I wanted to take a brief moment to appreciate the success of our Annual Meeting on June 14 th . The thoughtful questions and answers during the well-attended pre-meeting and the record-breaking participation at the meeting itself were heartwarming. Both the budget and slate passed with overwhelming support. It was an honor to present the Ruth Award for outstanding service to the congregation to Michael Seidel and Richard Curtis, to offer our appreciation to our outgoing board members Ilana Guttman, Ethan Trooskin-Zoller and Lisa Mohr and to welcome our new board members, Jackson Holtz, Kara Schoonmaker, and Karen Weisser. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Annual Meeting. Our community ruach means so much to me.

Thank you! So many people have reached out to express their support for the congregation as a whole, and the Shammes Committee in particular. Thank you so much for sharing your encouragement, your lovingkindness, your k’vod, and your future visions for Kol HaNeshamah. I look forward to talking with you more over the summer and in the year to come.

Best wishes for your Pride weekend and Shabbat shalom!
Jennifer Stewart

Shammes President

P.S. I hope to see you this shabbat at tonight's ensemble-led Kabbalat Shabbat or tomorrow's Game Night Havdalah!