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Frequently Asked Questions 



The candidate bio is also included in the FAQ #2 and FAQ #1 below.

 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) #4 Posted December 27, 2020


This is the fourth of our Frequently Asked Questions about the rabbi search, designed to keep you up to date and to address questions we have received recently. Please click here for earlier Frequently Asked Questions. We will continue to keep you informed every step of the way.
Where are we in the search process?
Last weekend, candidate Rabbi Joshua Katzan visited us for services, teaching, and meetings so that as many Mishkonians as possible could meet him. In fact, more than a hundred people joined us on Zoom. Many more watched on the Livestream and/or watched the video recordings that were posted on the website. Additionally, several congregants took Rabbi Katzan up on his offer to have private conversations.
After the get-to-know-you weekend, the rabbi search committee encouraged the congregation to email opinions about Rabbi Katzan, and more than 20 members responded by the December 25 deadline.
What sort of feedback did the rabbi search committee receive?
As promised, individual responses are being held in confidence, but the committee reports that respondents were overwhelmingly in favor of Rabbi Katzan’s candidacy.
The search committee expresses its gratitude to all who took the time to send feedback and questions.
Has the search committee made a recommendation?
Today, the rabbi search committee met and, after careful consideration, recommended that the board hire Rabbi Katzan.
What happens next?
The board will hold a very short special board meeting this Tuesday evening, December 29, 2020, at 8 p.m. on Zoom to vote on the recommendation. All Mishkon members are welcome to observe the special board meeting, but as always at board meetings, only the board can participate and vote.
Here is the Zoom link for Mishkon members: 
               Join Zoom Meeting
               Password:  Mishkon (if required)     Meeting ID: 308 431 456
Log in using your first and last name so the host can identify you as a member.
 What happens after the board’s vote? 
If the board votes to approve hiring Rabbi Katzan, Cindy will negotiate a contract with the rabbi.
When does the contract start and end? 
The contract begins Sunday, January 24, 2021, the day after Rabbi Botnick leaves. The contract ends June 30, 2022. The approximately 17 months cover the period remaining in Rabbi Botnick’s contract.
Is there anything I can do to help?
Yes!  Keep an eye out for reasonably priced housing within walking distance of the shul (ideally with some outdoor space), and please write to us at to let us know if you find anything.
We thank you for your patience and your engagement with this process. 

 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) #3 Posted December 22, 2020

This is the third of our Frequently Asked Questions about the rabbi search, designed to address questions we have recently received and to keep you up to date. Please visit our rabbi search page here for earlier Frequently Asked Questions. 

Thank you to all who joined the get-to-know-you services and events with Rabbi Joshua Katzan on Zoom this weekend. Over the course of the weekend, more than 100 people attended the Zoom services, lesson, and other meetings in real time, and since then dozens more have viewed the videos. 

Thanks also to the many of you who have submitted your feedback on the weekend. 

I attended a session (or more) with Rabbi Katzan. Can I still offer feedback? 

Yes. We want to hear from as many members as possible. The deadline for comments is this Friday, December 25, before Shabbat. Please email any comments, questions, or concerns to We are taking all feedback into consideration, and in confidence. 

I missed a session or would like to watch it again. Is that possible? 

Yes. Please visit the Videos & Recordings page under the Rabbi Search tab of the website. 

I saw that the rabbi was offering private meetings during the get-to-know-you weekend. Is this still possible?

Yes.  Please write to, and tell us what you’d like:  A private meeting with the rabbi? A meeting with a group you gather? We’ll be able to arrange it for you.

Are there other candidates scheduled for get-to-know-you weekends? 

No. All other candidates were either not a good fit for the shul or turned out not to be available during our timeframe. 

What will happen next? 

•    After the feedback period, the Rabbi Search Committee will meet to consider all comments and questions and decide on a recommendation to the Board of Directors about whether to hire Rabbi Katzan.
•    The board will hold a special meeting to consider and vote on the committee's recommendation. This short board meeting will be on Zoom and will be open to members who would like to observe. The date is to be determined but will be announced in advance. 
•    If the board votes to approve, Cindy will begin negotiations with the rabbi. 

What else will happen? 

If the board votes to approve hiring Rabbi Katzan, the rabbi will be looking for reasonably priced rental housing within walking distance of the shul (ideally with some outdoor space). Please keep an eye out for anything appealing and let us know.

We thank you for your patience and your engagement with this process. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) #2   Posted December 13, 2020
This is the second round of our Frequently Asked Questions, designed to keep you informed during every step of the rabbi search process. FAQ #1 can be found at the bottom of this page.
How many applications have we received?
As of mid-December, we received 8 applications for the rabbi position.
Any good ones?
Yes! All the applicants brought impressive credentials, comprising diverse and compelling varieties of life experience, rabbinical work, scholarship, and approaches to Jewish learning and living.
How were the applications evaluated?
Immediate Past President Melissa Tarsky led a group that reviewed the applications.
After carefully considering the applications, the committee judged that some of the candidates would not be a good fit for Mishkon’s current needs. Melissa then conducted initial phone interviews with the other rabbis.

 Where are we in the process now?
The clear choice among the candidates is Rabbi Joshua Katzan, whom many of you may remember as a finalist in our 2016 rabbi search. At that time, many in our community thought that he was a perfect fit for Mishkon, and nothing has changed our opinion about that. He brings warmth, excellent listening skills, consistency, follow-through, success in nurturing congregations, and experience in developing synagogue education programs. As a result, we are delighted to have you consider him for our next rabbi.  The fact that he is available now and living here in Los Angeles is an unexpected blessing after the hurdles and challenges our congregation has faced in the past year and a half.

We invited Rabbi Katzan to meet the congregation the weekend of December 18, 19, and 20. Instead of the typical in-person get-to-know-you weekend at the shul, it was a virtual weekend, as required by the Rabbinical Assembly during the pandemic.
What do we know about Rabbi Katzan?
Rabbi Katzan served as the senior rabbi at Congregation Habonim in New York City for 8 years, but he has deep roots in Los Angeles. In fact, his great-grandparents were founders of Mishkon, his great-grandfather was the first president of Mishkon, and his parents were married at Mishkon. 
Rabbi Katzan has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal State Northridge and received his Rabbinic Ordination at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University), along with master’s degrees in education and rabbinic literature. Additionally, he holds certifications in non-profit business management and Jewish meditation instruction. He has wide experience in education at all levels, non-profit organization, and music, especially guitar. He has also studied and worked in Israel. Most recently, he’s been teaching at Ziegler.
What will the get-to-know-you weekend include?
Rabbi Katzan will the lead Kabbalat Shabbat services on Friday night. He will lead parts of the Shabbat morning service and deliver a sermon on Saturday, as well as leading Havdalah on Saturday night. He will also teach a class on Sunday. Everyone is invited to all these events.
Rabbi Katzan is also eager to meet virtually with Mishkonians in groups or individually. He has specifically asked for a separate meeting with each of these groups: prospective and current religious school parents; potential and returning preschool parents; and the Board of Directors. These meetings are your opportunity to meet the rabbi, ask questions, and tell him what you want him to know about Mishkon as well as what you’re looking for in a rabbi.
In keeping with Rabbinical Assembly guidelines to make this process safe during the pandemic, all events and meetings will be by Zoom, livestream, Facetime, or phone.
How do I offer feedback?
After you have attended the services, the class, and/or a meeting with the rabbi, we encourage you to send your opinions and questions to our rabbi search committee (, which will take everyone’s input into consideration. Opinions will be held in confidence.
How can I help?
Three main ways:
1 – Attend get-to-know-you sessions and offer feedback.
2 – Join the transition team to help the rabbi we hire feel welcome and get to know the ins and outs of our wonderful community.
3 – Keep an eye out for reasonably priced housing rental opportunities within walking distance of the shul. Ideally, the location should have some outdoor space.
What if I have further questions or comments?
Contact the rabbi search committee at
We thank you for your support during this period of transition.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) #1   Posted November 23, 2020

This is the first of our Frequently Asked Questions, designed to keep you informed during every step of the rabbi search process.
Why are we hiring a new rabbi?
In November 2020, Rabbi Botnick announced his resignation from Mishkon, effective January 23, 2021. Our goal is to have a new rabbi in place by the time Rabbi Botnick departs.  
Why the rush? Why can’t the congregation just run lay-led Shabbat services?
Mishkon’s rabbi serves many functions beyond leading Shabbat services. These include, in no particular order:

  • officiating at lifecycle events, like funerals, baby namings, brises, and weddings
  • overseeing religious education for our preschool and religious school
  • teaching Torah
  • offering halachic advice
  • providing spiritual care to the sick, the grieving, and others in need
  • working with the board of directors and staff
  • representing the shul in the wider community
  • holiday preparation and services

The pandemic has only heightened the need for all of these services, and we would also like our new rabbi to be ready to restart normal operations once the pandemic ends.
I thought Rabbi Botnick’s contract went until mid-2022. What happened?
Rabbi Botnick asked to be released from his contract as of January 2021, and the board honored his request. The rabbi cited family reasons.
Who is in charge of the rabbi search?
Board member and longtime Mishkonian Andy Bender has generously offered to chair the search committee, with assistance from current and past officers Johanna Schmidt, Ira Schreck, and Melissa Tarsky, and the rest of the board.
What are the procedures for hiring a new rabbi?
As a recognized Conservative synagogue, Mishkon follows the procedures and guidelines of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) and the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), which is the organization of rabbis in the Conservative movement, for recruiting and hiring Conservative rabbis, including the following:

1. A detailed job listing we provide that answers hundreds of questions about our congregation, our facilities, the Los Angeles Jewish community, the wider community, and the role of and expectations for the rabbi.
2. When and how the position may be publicized.
3. When and how interviews may be conducted.

Last time we did a rabbinic search, surveys, focus groups, interviews and sample services were conducted. Why aren’t we doing those now?
With less than two months to hire a rabbi and get him or her up to speed by the time Rabbi Botnick departs, there is not enough time for such a detailed internal process. However, we will be guided in part by the congregation’s input received before Rabbi Botnick was hired in 2016, as well as congregants’ opinions gathered over the years since.

If you feel strongly that certain issues need to be considered, please email the search committee at
What are the main criteria we are seeking in a rabbi?
First and foremost: an RA-accredited rabbi able to perform the tasks noted above and maintain good relationships with individual members and the congregation’s various membership constituencies, board, and staff.
In addition, under the RA’s system (and Mishkon’s rabbi contracts), the typical start date for rabbis is July 1. The unusual timing of our search means that few rabbis will be available even in a normal year. Because it will be difficult for a rabbi to uproot from another region on such short notice – and during a pandemic – we expect that most candidates will come from the Los Angeles area.
Also, our rabbi will need to live within walking distance of Mishkon for Shabbat and will need to find housing on very short notice, an expensive proposition even in the best of times.
Will this be an interim position?

No. Under RA rules, an interim rabbi may only fill in between other rabbis and must leave once his or her time is up, even if the congregation wishes to extend the rabbi’s contract. At that time, the congregation must conduct another search, and the interim rabbi is not eligible.
Our new rabbi will be contracted until what would have been the end of Rabbi Botnick’s term, the end of June 2022. Not having an interim rabbi will allow the shul the flexibility to extend the contract or begin a new search.
I know someone who I think would be a perfect rabbi for Mishkon.  What should I do?
Tell that rabbi to apply through the RA process.  Remember that only rabbis affiliated with the RA are eligible.
Are there other ways I might be able to help?
First, keep an eye out for affordable housing within walking distance of Mishkon, ideally with some outdoor space.  It needs to be available early next year.  Please email the search committee at with any suggestions.
Second, once the new rabbi is hired, we will need a transition team to welcome and orient the new rabbi to the congregation, so that she or he may hit the ground running. Whether or not you join the transition team, we have no doubt that a shul as heimish as Mishkon will welcome the new rabbi with open arms.
We thank you for your interest, input, assistance, patience, and forbearance during this process.

Mon, April 19 2021 7 Iyyar 5781