With our synagogue's rabbi's recent announcement that he and his family will be leaving us next summer to live in Israel, it is not too early for us to consider who will fill the role next. Some want our congregation to hire someone part time while others want us to wait a year. The last time we faced this conundrum, I floated amongst a small circle of other progressive thinkers my approach. I was obviously ahead of my time but am now confident that, with the magic of Al Gore's Internet, my idea will not only take hold within our community but become a model for congregations of all faiths worldwide.
What is this earth shattering approach, you may ask? Well, you may. Now that you have, I can sum it up in three words-perpetual interviewing process, also known as PIP. The PIP is very simple. Rather than hire one rabbi full time, we continuously interview supposed candidates.
The PIP carries some obvious benefits. First and foremost, the financial savings will be tremendous. Assuming that most candidates will come from the New York area with their spouses, at an average ticket cost of $250 per person for fifty weeks a year (our "search committee" will need some vacation time), our annual cost for airfare for the year should be approximately $25,000 per year. With no benefits like health insurance to pay, $25,000 should be our total cost.
The logical question is what we would do with all the money that we will save by not paying a full time rabbi. While other congregations may have other needs, ours has a major need-a men's clubroom. We can use the savings to build a lounge with recliners, large televisions, beer kegs, etc. Since the room will undoubtedly attract new members, the room will certainly pay for itself in no time.
Another immediate benefit will be the quality of sermons we will hear. Since the "candidates" will be under the impression that they are applying for a real job, they will bring their "A" games each and every time. Also, because they will not want to offend our congregation, we won't have to sit through some hectoring guilt trip. With the promise of top-notch, guilt-free sermons every week, people will flock to and join our congregation, providing revenue in addition to the salary savings.
This idea is so simple and yet, dare I say, ingenious that I cannot believe no other congregation has tried it. As soon as ours does though, it will become the next best thing. Who's with me?