Monday, January 31, 2022

The Great Resignation is fueling a rabbinic hiring crisis that could leave synagogues without leaders

In early December, Judaism’s Conservative movement sent a disquieting message to dozens of synagogues looking for a new rabbi: Many of you won’t make a hire this year.

At least 80 Conservative synagogues anticipated rabbi vacancies — approximately one of every seven affiliated with the movement, the email said. At most, 50 to 60 rabbis would be looking for new jobs.

“We are not presenting this information to alarm, but rather to help you prepare for and navigate the challenges of this search season,” said the email, which was signed by the “career search team” of the Rabbinical Assembly, the Conservative movement’s rabbis association, and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the group that represents its nearly 600 congregations.


  1. Sorry but this isn't a big deal. Conservative rabbis are hired to give sermons, do some pastoral counselling and give nice speeches at weddings and funerals. The synagogue's "ritual committee" makes all decisions on rituals and roles. The board decides what it wants the rabbi to say.
    The synagogue I grew up in didn't have a rabbi for a year when I was in my late teens. No one much noticed as there were a couple of guys who thought they were just as smart as the one that had just left and they ran the show.

  2. well it is a big deal, if there are active congregations
    maybe they can hire some orthodox rabbis , and jsut ask them to give sermons and conduct weddings - at least they will do it lefi haalcha

  3. That's now how it works nowadays. Back in the mid 20th century, Orthodox rabbis could find work in Conservative synagogues. At that time the only real ritual difference was a lack of mechitzah and remember that some Orthodox shuls were experimenting with "family seating" as well.
    Today a Conservative synagogue is indistinguishable from a Reform "temple". Furthermore, the congregation, or more specifically the board, runs the synagogue and the rabbi is just an employee who's told what to do and how to do it.
    However, it does bring up the thought: how many OO rabbis might feel comfortable in such a place?

  4. even mo or chabad.
    There would need to be some kind of agreement. Not sure many conservative would accept a frum rabbi.
    Although, aryeh Kaplan ministered at 3 conservative congregations, and never a proper orthodox shul.

  5. Again, back in Rav Kaplan's time, the difference between a right wing Conservative synagogue and an MO shul was the mechitza. Even their Silverman siddur was pretty decent. Today their prayer books are unrecognizable as belonging to our religion and unless the Lubavitcher wants to talk about tikkun olam and justice and recognition for sexual deviance, he's not going to find a welcoming crowd.

  6. Oh I see. I've not been to a conservative place in America. Are they all the same?

  7. There's always been a range. When I was a kid at Camp Ramah in Canada in the 1980's they tried to create egalitarian minyans for all the units above bar mitzvah age. A couple of days later they realized that all the boys had skipped out on the prayers and made their own traditional minyan. That same summer we hosted a group from one of the American Camp Ramahs and their girls were shocked that ours didn't wear tefillin.
    The range, however, has shifted radically to the left. What was once traditional right wing Conservatism is the uninfluential Union of Traditional Judaism. The Conservatives themselves are essentially Reform but with more or less ritual depending on the congregation's desires. So some places you might get a service with some prayers you might recognize and in others it's completely foreign to us.

  8. this is not bad

    they have an optional amidah which includes matriarchs as wella s patriarchs (Elokei Sarah, Elokei Rivkah etc.) - which is not untrue -
    they still recognise G-d in their prayers, rather than Buddhizing it like Aryeh Kaplan does.

  9. Yes, but their god is okay with all sorts of things the God of the Bible isn't.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.