Monday, April 22, 2013

Help me: find worthy words of "visionary leaders to interpret current trends impacting synagogues."


Help ME: I can't afford a whole new wardrobe
It is very cool to be on a panel with Rabbi Sid Schwarz and Lisa Colton at the UJA Synergy conference on May 29...Connected Congregations. It's a great excuse to buy a new outfit. 
Speaking gigs equal shopping for me-it helps me feel like I have something worthy to share. I may need to buy shoes too because wow, what am I going to say about trends after Rabbi Sid Schwarz speaks about his book on Jewish Megatrends? What do I add to Lisa Colton's project on connecting folks through relationships, networks and online and onland life? 
Help me. I can't afford a new wardrobe. Here are some ideas. Challenge them and add your own. 
Topic: Folks are re-imagining synagogues. What trends should inform imagination?
I'm thinking trends are running as: Paradoxes.
LIfe is not as simple as a list. Two ideas that are in direct contrast exist at the same time and need to be addressed equally.
Leaders of congregations can't follow "to do lists." The simplicity of lists don't represent the complexity we face.  
We live in a time of paradox (e.g.): 
  • we are hyper connected via social media while people are more alone
  • we have more stuff  than anyone's grandmother could have imagined and we are always wanting something more
  • information comes at a snap of our fingers and we are more impatient
  • we have a million time savers and we have less time
  • we have more weapons and we are less safe
  • Other 21st century paradoxes?
Reality is not one thing or the other..rather we exist with truths in tension.

From my perch, Congregations that are effectively enacting their role as vibrant centers of meaning are navigating the following paradoxes (which ones did I miss):

1. Worthy mission and  individual desire
Congregations  navigate the paradox of inspired missions that direct action. They have missions that make you say I want to be part of that and they have a stance of inquiry toward individuals. They actively ask "what do you individuals needs and care about? How do we link your passion to the greater purpose and explore your life need?  

I see congregations have a foot in higher purpose and individual quest. 

Example: Congregation B'nai Jeshurun
They are branded leaders in mending the world. They are also helping families explore what they individually care for with their  Mitzvah map learning where families get their own coaches and make their own plans for learning and doing. 

2.  The master story and the individual story
Congregations navigate the paradox to serve as the story carriers of our people (Torah, history) and to equally see their role in supporting individuals in self authoring their own lives.

Example: Temple Israel Center White Plains
TIC is a Torah strong congregation. Torah is on the walls, the schedule and the agenda of leaders and participants. It's the language of the place. Rich Jewish content is at the core. At the same time high school students are supported in identifying the "career paths" they care about. Leraning then is designed to help them on that path. You wanna be a lawyer..here is the Talmud class with attorney mentors. Another example? You want to be a journalist? You'll learn with the reporter from Fox News to cover Israel.
  

3.  Strong leaders and the end to rabbi centricism 
We all know the downfall of the rabbi centric synagogue. So what does it look like when you have strong rabbinic leader without all the good falling on the strong shoulders of the rabbi?

What we see are new structures of lay leaders-when lay leaders take on decision making but also teaching, visioning, pastoral care. We see new structures of professional staff that spreads responsibility to others.

Example: Temple Beth Sholom of Roslyn
Rabbi Alan Lucas is awesome. You'd spend just a little time with him and say it is so. you'd say the same thing of Gila Hadani Ward and Sharon Solomon, their educators.
And they have:
  •  strong lay leaders who have revisioned education.
  • professional learning team that leads ongoing learning for teachers
  • lay leaders trained to be "morei derech" to be spiritual guides to families
  • yedidim, all children are mentors to other children and mentored by still other children
the hands and heart of the congregation go beyond the clergy and lead staff


4. Sacred Judaism and Quotidian Judaism
Congregations engage individuals in the sacred moments of time-life, death, holiday, birth and have equal focus on the time when we wake in the morning, walk on the way and go to bed at night..every day.

Example: Community Synagogue of Rye
Children in their Havurah model celebrate Shabbat and holidays with families-they learn to prepare for bnei mitzvah and are asked: what are the questions from your daily life? Equal focus is given for the holy and the profane.


OK..now help. This is a first draft. Given the changing landscape of the Jewish community,  do congregations need to respond?  What do they need to be thinking about now as they endeavor to develop and sustain communities of purpose?

What do you think?  And if you want to go shopping with a Macy's coupon give me a call.


Connected Congregations:
From Dues and Membership to Sustaining Communities of Purpose
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

UJA-Federation of New York
130 East 59th Street
New York City


As our Jewish community advances and changes in response to the ever-evolving needs of its participants, we look to our synagogues for inspiration, connection, and shared purpose. Our congregations, however, are facing an important moment of self-determination and the need to align their purpose to the sacred as well as the strategic and sustainable. On May 29th, SYNERGY: UJA-Federation and Synagogues Together invites you and the leadership of your congregation or organization to take part in a groundbreaking conference. Join us as we:
  • Engage with visionary leaders to interpret current trends impacting synagogues:
    Cyd Weissman, Director, Innovation in Congregational Education, The Jewish Education Project
    Lisa Colton, Founder and 
    President of Darim Online
    Rabbi Si
    dney Schwarz, Senior Fellow at Clal: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and author of Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future
  • Reveal new research findings about the alignment of synagogue models and congregational purpose:
    Beth Cousens
    PhD, Imagine: Jewish Education Consulting
  • Connect with New York synagogue and organizational leaders to consider the possibilities for sustaining our sacred communities