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November 21, 2014 | 28th Cheshvan 5775
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Clergy Installation
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CLERGY INSTALLATION

  1. The Union's Worship Department [worship@urj.org] has sample services that can be mailed to interested people.

    In addition, I learned from a fellow member of our transition-in committee who has contacted another congregation in our area that was in a similar situation a couple of years ago that the installation service liturgy was worked out by the incoming rabbi and the installing rabbi. That is, the service was not a major project for the transition-in committee.

    David
    440 member units


  2. We recently installed our new rabbi. While there were some small additions to the liturgy, which I'll outline below, it was the congregant participation and choreography of the service that was more distinctive. Our Transition Committee made suggestions to the new rabbi and helped him contact volunteers...[A]n HUC faculty member and former rabbi here also made helpful suggestions.

    Here are the major elements of what we did on a Friday evening:

    • Processional--we never process in on Fridays.
    • New rabbi and installing rabbi.
    • Bimah guests (older past presidents who couldn't walk easily).
    • Past presidents.
    • Transition committee.
    • Current officers.
    • Youth group leaders.
    • Rabbi emeritus (with Torah).
    • All this while cantor/soloist is singing Mi Shebeirach for the congregation.
    • Rabbi emeritus passes Torah to a past president.
    • Past president passes Torah to current president.
    • Current president passes Torah to youth group president.
    • Youth group president passes Torah to a recent bar or bat mitzvah.
    • Bar or bat mitzvah passes Torah to new rabbi.
    • New Rabbi puts Torah in the ark.
    • Current president leads congregational responsive reading appropriate to the moment (I think this one was written or edited by [rabbi], but we got it by e-mailing others for services, not directly from rabbi).
    • Rabbi emeritus speaks about the generations of the congregation, his pride in seeing his congregation select a new rabbi and his confidence that they've made a good choice. In our case, the rabbi emeritus left seven years ago. We've had two rabbis in between, neither of whom has the "emeritus" title.
    • Service--a regular, Friday night service.
    • At the sermon: Installing rabbi speaks, installed rabbi speaks, cantor/soloist sings song ("My House", Bernstein).
    • Finish the service, same as other Fridays.
    • Oneg--Big.

    For us, the physical symbolism of passing the Torah through the generation of leaders to the children to the rabbi and having the rabbi place it into our ark was visually and symbolically powerful to start and set up the service. After that, relatively little needed to be said or done differently.

    This also helped create the sense that the congregation was installing the new rabbi, not some stranger from out of town. The installing rabbi spoke wonderfully, but the processional and Torah passing signaled the congregation's ownership over the selection of the new rabbi and the future with that rabbi.

    Alan


 
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