This Shavuot, we need to recommit ourselves to telling our story, to constructing a worldview of meaning and transcendence that can redefine what synagogues mean in the twenty-first century. Yes, if our synagogues and institutions were lost to the world, we would lose so much, yet unless we can inspire others as to why the big picture matters, no facts will move others towards action.
Today, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote in preparation for Shavuot on the necessity of narrative, rather than facts, to transform our institutions. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
Today, as the Jewish Community struggles under the weight of financial, political, demographic and institutional constraints, there may be nothing more important than to take seriously the idea that we choose whether or not our institutions will become enslaved by our limitations. Leaders are obligated to recognize that we have limitations without allowing our limitations to have us, enabling limitations to become straight jackets around the possibility of any turnaround.
Today, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote in preparation for Pesah on the responsibility of leaders to dream in a world of countless potential limitations. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
Today, the words “Conservative Judaism” and “interfaith marriage” are seldom seen in-print without a story about some controversy. As a result, not enough time is spent in reflective conversation about the most important current trend affecting synagogues. This morning, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article I co-authored with my colleague Stacie Garnett-Cook of InterfaithFamily about where there are opportunities for growth and change. You can read the article by clicking on this link.
In the Purim story, Esther and Mordecai had every reason to give up in face of Haman’s cruelty when it seemed as though no God would save them. Yet in spite of no divine intervention of the kind experienced by Noah, Abraham or Moses, Esther and Mordecai chose the difficult path, and that made all the difference; Esther and Mordecai chose the pathway of solving the problem for themselves and the Jewish people. And we celebrate them because taking that risk was what God wanted.
Today, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote in preparation for Purim on what it means to recognize our capacity as leaders to solve our own problems. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
Today, too many synagogue leaders with whom I work serve under the shadow of a depressing equilibrium, where they know that the model they inherited is unsustainable, yet fear the disruption of even a step towards radical change. But the journey to transform synagogues does not begin with a technical change, but a mindset change. Yesterday, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article I wrote about what it means for synagogues to be adaptable likes Legos, and not concretized like bricks. You can read the article by clicking on this link.
The big questions facing the Jewish community are not tedious; they are complicated and consequential. Today, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote in preparation for Tu B’Shevat about whether or not our organizations value the deep work necessary to meet these challenges. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
I am honored to have been selected for the second class of the Wexner Field Fellowship. The fellowship is a three-year intensive professional development program. Together with a cohort of Jewish professionals from across North America, Wexner Field Fellows will grow as Jewish professionals, deepen their leadership skills, and develop a rich community of colleagues, becoming part of The Wexner Foundation’s network of professional and volunteer leaders in North America and Israel. You can read the announcement in eJewishPhilanthropy by clicking on this link.
Like many rabbis, I grew up worshipping the iconic images of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching together in Selma, Alabama. Few historical moments made me more proud to be a Jew and a rabbi. However, a closer reading of American Jewish history reveals a far more complicated legacy of Jews and the Civil Rights Movement. As we approach Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Forward published a piece that I wrote on what it means for Jews to engage in self-reflection about the racial environment we all help create. You can read the article by clicking on this link.
Conservative Judaism is a legacy brand that thrived in the 20th-century through world-renowned scholarship, bustling suburban synagogues, high-quality educational brands, and a religious message that resonated with Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. While no one can claim to predict the future, Conservative Judaism cannot thrive by re-litigating the debates of the past, but by trusting that we can create a brighter future together. This week, The Jewish Week ran a piece I wrote about the need for Conservative Jews to dare together, which you can read by clicking on this link.
Every Rosh HaShanah, we have the opportunity to see things for the first time and embrace the power of change. And if each of us can change, then so can our institutions. The future is happening to Judaism, and it is our obligation to take hold of the emerging future and help Jewish communities thrive within it. On Thursday, the Atlanta Jewish Times published a piece that I wrote about Rosh HaShanah and overcoming the paralysis of fear in Jewish life. You can read the article by clicking on link.