Open Letter November 16, 2006

November 16, 2006

Dear Aquarian Minyan members,

We're pleased to be writing you about an extraordinary opportunity for Minyan members to take part in shaping spiritual leadership for our community.

We’ve just completed our evaluation of the recent High Holy Days services. Participants gave us a lot of useful information about how to strengthen what is working and improve those things needing attention. There were several points of substantial agreement; one of them is our reason for writing now. A large number of High Holy Days participants were strongly moved and inspired by Rabbi Diane Elliot’s leadership and contributions—so many that the Council has determined to explore the possibility of an ongoing relationship between the Minyan and Rabbi Diane.

To oversee this exploratory process, we have convened a task force of Minyan members who are willing to take part in a series of meetings and discussions designed to clarify the community’s needs, enter into dialogue with Rabbi Diane, and, if this proves feasible and desirable, prepare a proposal to bring to the community as a whole for discussion and decision.

This letter is going to all current Minyan members, inviting any of you who are interested to take part in the task force. The qualifications we are looking for are:


  • A strong commitment to the Aquarian Minyan;
  • Availability and willingness to work cooperatively to see the entire process through, including taking part in task force meetings and deliberations;
  • Commitment to abide by the guidelines set by task force members for the process, including any appropriate confidentiality guidelines, as in any personnel process.


If you can bring these qualities and commitments to the second task force meeting 2-4 PM on Sunday, November 19th, at the home of Ljuba Davis, 2746 College Ave., Berkeley, you will be enthusiastically welcomed.

If you can’t commit to an entire task force process, or can’t attend this meeting, but would like to be part of or offer advice to the task force, please feel free to email your comments to aminyan at aquarianminyan dot org or call the Minyan office at 510-655-8530. Part of the task force process will include opportunities for all members to take part in deliberations, so if you prefer to wait for these, that’s fine too.

In general, the task force will be considering the community’s wants, needs and resources, prior to opening discussions with Rabbi Diane. Rabbi Diane has posed several useful questions to focus the task force’s thinking:


  • What is the Minyan's current relationship to the notion of rabbinic leadership or facilitation?
  • What would you hope and want and need (each different!) from a rabbi, both spiritually and on a practical level? Possible formal and informal roles include ritual and prayer leadership, pastoral duties, education, healing, meeting facilitation, and more. (Bear in mind that as the chevra ages, there are increased duties in tending to the ill, hospital visits, funerals and shiva minyanim. So, how full-service a caring community does the Minyan consider itself? And who organizes the lay folks to fulfill the caring roles?)
  • How full a position would you see this being, both in terms of roles fulfilled and hours worked?
  • What kind of resources is the Minyan willing and able to gather to create a rabbinic position?


We encourage all of you to respond to these questions, whether or not you want to participate now in the task force. Please email your comments by Sunday morning November 19 to

Many thanks for considering doing this service for the community, and for sharing your thoughts, concerns, and questions with the community. We are grateful that the Minyan is blessed with so many caring and thoughtful members, and are certain an excellent task force group will come forward to carry this important responsibility.


The Aquarian Minyan Council

Don Adams, Fran Avni, Barry Barkan, Shoshana Dembitz, Yehudit Goldfarb, Abigail Grafton, Julie Sherman, Miriam Stampfer, Marika Wertheimer

The Rabbinic Task Force

Barry Barkan, Debbie Barkan, Jake Birnberg, Frank Born, Shoshana Dembitz, Lynn Feinerman, Abigail Grafton, Eryn Kalish, Ariel Lenchner, Julie Sherman, Marika Wertheimer