Why Should Your Synagogue Exist?

Hanukkah presents an opportunity to use the simple act of lighting the Hanukkiyah for eight nights as an opportunity to give attention to the power of ordinary, daily work at sustaining our congregations.    Miracles inspire us and lead to transformation, and they can be found any moment, as long as we take the time to look.

This week, The Times of Israel published an essay I wrote about what it means to reaffirm your synagogue’s core purpose on Hanukkah.   You can read the article by clicking on this link.   Hag Urim Sameah.

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A Career Highlight: Getting Quoted By Chabad

In 2016, I published an article in eJewishPhilanthropy about disruptive innovation, specifically citing Chabad as a paradigm of a disruptive technology affecting the business model of traditional congregations.    Last month, this article was quoted by Chabad Lubavitch in an article about the future of synagogues.   A career highlight!

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I Am Wrong (And By The Way, So Are You)

The Jewish Community is going through massive change in the way we do prayer, serve interfaith families, talk about Israel, and too many issues to count. Yet by definition successful change means that something we or our institutions did in the past was a mistake.  The good news is that Judaism is more forgiving of us than we are of ourselves.

This week, The Times of Israel published I wrote about how each of us needs to take a pause and embrace that scar that something we did for the Jewish people, however noble our intentions, was not the right decision.    You can read the article by clicking on this link.   Shanah Tovah Umetukah.

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Shabbat, Status Anxiety, and Social Media

The Talmud teaches that Shabbat provides a person with an “extra soul” for the twenty-hour period on Friday night until Shabbat ends on Saturday evening. As such, Shabbat is an opportunity to care about ourselves and spend time with the people who care about us not because of a glossy picture we post on Instagram or Facebook, but because of who we are at our core.

Yesterday, Thrive Global, a new media venture of Arianna Huffington, published an article I wrote about Shabbat as a critique of how we use social media. You can read the article by clicking on this link.   Shabbat Shalom!

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Choose People Over Things

On Tisha B’Av, it is important to clarify what values must be at the center of Jewish Community.  And in Jewish tradition, the choice is always clear: we choose people over things.  Today, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote in preparation for Tisha B’Av on the need to put people first.  You can read the post by clicking on this link.

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The Blessing of Epic Failure

At the end of the synagogue programming year, many leaders find themselves depressed at missed opportunities and financial targets, and an anxiety as to whether or not the coming year will bring more of the same. But in that moment, the most important thing that leaders can do is bring those concerns into the open.    Today, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article I wrote about the power of psychological safety in our synagogues. You can read the article by clicking on this link.

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Facts Are Not Enough

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.

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Enslaved to Limitations

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.

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Interfaith Families and Conservative Synagogues

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.

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God Will Not Solve Our Problems (And That’s A Good Thing)

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.

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