Magen David Sephardic Congregation, in North Bethesda, is still searching for a new rabbi, after Rabbi Haim Ovadia left in July 2018.
The Washington area’s only Sephardic congregation faces a unique challenge, according to Debbie Shemony,
the congregation’s recording secretary.
“[We want] a Sephardic rabbi or a rabbi with Sephardic leanings,” she said. “[But] There are many more Ashkenazi rabbis than Sephardic rabbis.”
Sephardic customs differ from Ashkenazi customs in several ways: prayers have different melodies, holiday customs are different and Hebrew often is pronounced differently.
Magen David is conducting a worldwide search for candidates, she said.
“We have a pretty lengthy list [of requirements],” she added. “We’re looking for someone to grow the community [and] set a vision for us for the next five to 10 years.”
During the past seven months, the synagogue has brought in guest rabbis and hazzanim to lead services, some of whom are candidates for the permanent position, Shemony said. Other services are led by congregants.
Shemony said the synagogue hopes to hire a new rabbi by the upcoming High Holidays.