The Agency for Jewish Learning has begun interviewing candidates to replace Rabbi Danny Schiff as community scholar.
Executive Director Ed Frim confirmed that one candidate visited Pittsburgh last week, and another is scheduled to come soon. Frim hopes to announce Schiff’s replacement by the end of March.
“You never know what’s going to happen in these processes,” Frim said. “We’ve been really pleased with the level of applicants. This is a very unique position nationally and has been really attractive to a lot of people. A lot of rabbis find the prospect of teaching to be something very attractive.”
Dozens of resumes have been sent into the AJL, a majority of them being from outside the area.
“We have not had many applicants from Pittsburgh,” Frim said. “It (community scholar position) requires someone with a particular type of experience and skills. As big as our Jewish community is, there isn’t a big pool of people here.”
When candidates visit Pittsburgh, they are thrown right into the sessions to see how they interact with the participants.
The students, Frim said, “are participating in sessions with the candidates, so we can evaluate their teachings.”
He noted that they want a candidate who can continue the positive progression the AJL has seen over the past few years.
“We’ve been pleased with the direction with the way things have been going,” Frim said. “Both in terms in the nature and quality with the collaborations we’ve been developing with the community and the number of learners who have been coming. Those numbers have been increasing because we have been working with congregations and the JCC.
“We want someone here who is not only a master teacher and a scholar, but someone who can help to build those kinds of relationships in the community.”
Schiff is scheduled to leave the AJL at the end of July, meaning his replacement would start in August. However, Frim wants the new community scholar to have the opportunity this summer to begin the transition into the community.
Schiff has been active in the search process.
“He’s been advising in the process,” Frim said. “Candidates will speak with him. He’s leaving us on very good terms. The only thing I’m mad at him about is that he’s leaving.”
(Mike Zoller can be reached at email@example.com.)