Or Ami Welcomes Interim Rabbi While the Search Continues

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Congregation Or Ami in Lafayette Hill is on the hunt for a settled rabbi to join the synagogue full time, but Rabbi Glenn Ettman will lead the pulpit in the meantime.

Congregation Or Ami in Lafayette Hill is on the hunt for a settled rabbi to join the synagogue full time, but Rabbi Glenn Ettman will lead the pulpit in the meantime.
 
Ettman started July 1 and will continue as the interim rabbi until the end of June 2017.
 
He is replacing Rabbi Kenneth Carr, who led Or Ami for 15 years.
 
Larry Paul, co-president of Or Ami, said this is a different type of a rabbinic transition.
 
“Ideally, you go from settled rabbi to settled rabbi. We just weren’t able to do that,” he said. “So we decided to have an interim rabbi for a year. And there are rabbis who are trained to be interim rabbis. They sort of provide transitional re-sources — they help bridge the gap from one former rabbi to the new rabbi.”
 
The search committee is eagerly going through the application process, during which the synagogue is still and quiet through the summer months.
 
Ettman has led several Shabbat services that were “well received,” Paul said, and he’s helping with community building.
 
As a “very friendly congregation” — and the only synagogue in the area — Paul said, “like a lot of synagogues, we’ve been losing members over the last six or seven years. We need to do something to reverse that.
 
“Rabbi Ettman will be helpful with that. He understands our challenges. He can help with talking to members who are thinking of leaving. He’s very engaging, and he understands that’s one of the challenges. And that’s what he has to do as an interim rabbi, to really bridge that period between Rabbi Carr, who was with us for 15 years, and whomever our new rabbi is going to be.”
 
For a synagogue that’s been around for nearly 70 years, Paul said he and other members take pride in those decades.
 
“That’s a long time for a synagogue, so we’re really proud of that,” he said. “A lot of us who are committed members really want to do our best to keep the Jewish presence in the community and Or Ami vibrant.
 
“[Ettman will] be a great resource for us for the rest of the year.”
 
Prior to working at Or Ami, Ettman was in Southeast Florida working with the Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach, as well as working as an adjunct rabbi at Congregation B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, Fla.
 
And while the nationwide summer heat might make the transition up north easier, he’s not new to the Northeast.
 
“Philly is great. I grew up in Connecticut and went to college in Boston and my first grad school in New York City, so I’m familiar with the Northeast and all the seasons,” he laughed.
 
Ettman received his undergraduate degree at Brandeis University and his master’s in performance studies at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He then attended Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.
 
 This will be his first experience as an interim rabbi, but he went through special training to do so.
 
“I felt personally no matter where a rabbi goes in a job, there’s going to be a transition,” Ettman said. “I did the training personally so I could have a better handle on change management and what the spirituality of change is entailed with that.
 
“I hope to help the congregation and the lay leadership create pathways to move toward the future when they finally find a settled rabbi.
 
“Every organization changes. No one is permanent. No one is perfect,” he continued. “My goal is to help the community understand those moments of transition.”
 
He added that he and Cantor Jordan Franzel will be working together to enhance the Shabbat worship experience with music, message and prayer.
 
“People come for whatever reason, but hopefully they’ll walk away feeling something,” he said. “I hope to bring the community together — listening to people’s stories, hearing their wants, desires and wishes, as well as bringing some new ideas and new ways of interpreting services and other educational opportunities to really reach out to people who have felt a little bit lost in the community.”
 
But Ettman noted that through overall times of transition, life continues to go on no matter what.
 
“It’s important to make a smooth transition and to help with the smooth transition because the transition is going to happen whether you like it or not,” he said. “Life is going to move on — it’s the only [assurance] that we have in the world, that we’re moving forward. You either can be stuck and pretend that it’s not happening, which is not good for the community, or you can have tools and patterns and ways to address some of these concerns of moving forward.
 
“I’m only here for a year,” he continued. “And the leadership of the congregation and the congregation itself is going to last longer. Congregations last longer than all of us. That’s part of the joys of being in a progressive American Jewish community — there’s something bigger to it than one individual person.”
 
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0737
 

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