Some synagogues want a rabbi who's a good sermonizer, others want a scholar; some want someone who relates well to their teenagers, others want a rabbi they can call by first name and play tennis or basketball with; some want an individual well known in the larger community, others want a rabbi who knows them well; some go for formality, others for lots of hugging. Some want it all.
In "The New Rabbi: A Congregation Searches for Its Leader," investigative reporter Stephen Fried gets inside the congregational mindset the way no other writer has. He intensely follows the process of finding a replacement for Rabbi Gerald Wolpe, when he steps down after leading a Main Line Philadelphia synagogue, Har Zion, for 30 years. But the compelling book is as much about Judaism in America and the role of the rabbi, as it's about Har Zion. And it's as much about Fried's return to synagogue life as it's about Wolpe's departure.