Friday, January 14, 2011

Yallah, get up and move---how folks do it


No one says, "Lets keep the status quo" for congregational education.

A strong will for change is there, yet there is an equal amount of inertia.

In New York around 2,000 children experience Jewish education in models that don't look like your father's Oldsmobile. Regular family engagement, learning that looks more like living than schooling,learning that speaks to daily life (get me started on Quotidian Judaism and I won't stop) ..you know.

So you are right to ask, "How about the other 34,000 children who participate in congregational education in NY?"

Why aren't more leaders saying I won't rest until we engage children and their families in ways that matter in their lives?

Why aren't more parents insisting and making happen Jewish learning that enriches their lives?

What breaks inertia? Who breaks inertia?
I know some heroes in New York who work at the edge of their imagination. They say, "I believe congregational engagement can nurture the lives of children and families. And I'll lead a team to make sure that happens."

The other day I said to Nancy Parkes of Temple Israel Center in Westchester, "I'd like to make a big H for you. You are one of my heroes."

Nancy, like the other leaders in New York who are making real change, manage to balance never being satisfied and being proud of what they do. Not so easy to have the respect of your congregation for what is while you are saying, we are moving to a very new place, because what is, is not good enough.



How to make the change?
In the coming months I hope to write about how leading congregations actually do the work. In New York, these leaders are part of what is known as The Coalition of Innovating Congregations.

So I'll write about the steps they take to make real change.
And try to talk honestly about the barriers.

I'll pepper what I share with stuff from a course I teach at Hebrew Union College, Organizational Dynamics. I'll write about the intersection between the theory of change/innovation and what happens on the ground.

The newest generation of clergy and educators are being equipped with frameworks that say, if we are going to be a tree of life, we better know how to help the tree grow in new climates.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and the rest of New York.