Many Jewish organizations celebrate Shavuot under the shadow of budget shortfalls, staffing cuts, and anxiety about the future. However, the bikkurim ritual on Shavuot challenges us to show constant appreciation for the unglamorous, daily work required to maintain a congregation. On Sunday, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on how Shavuot demands that we never treat people as expendable in our synagogues. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
Martin Seligman’s work on optimism and positive psychology plays a tremendous role in my philosophy as a rabbi, educator, and leadership trainer. Today, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article I wrote on how Seligman’s concepts of pessimism and “learned helplessness” affect the ability of synagogues to do powerful work in transformative times. You can read the article by clicking on this link.
Commentators love to criticize the question of the Wicked Child. However, the Wicked Child’s question in the Haggadah teaches us a powerful lesson about the impact of asking difficult questions, and the importance of leaders having the courage to bring an important but uncomfortable question to the table. On Monday, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on how Pesah teaches us that we need to listen to the question of the Wicked Child. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
I love listening to podcasts, and work my way through episodes of the Bill Simmons Podcast, the Weeds, Planet Money and countless others while I’m in the car, on the subway, or at the gym. Last month, I was interviewed by Michelle Malkin on her brand new podcast It’s Who You Know! about the future of synagogues. You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link.
God’s name does not appear in Megillat Esther, and this omission offers a powerful lesson about the necessity of taking ownership over whether or not we will achieve God’s mission for the Jewish people. On Sunday, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on how Purim teaches us that God will not save the synagogue; only we can. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
I am not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV, but that does not stop me from loving everything that Dr. Atul Gawande writes about medicine. In particular, I love Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto, which captures how people can “get the stupid stuff right” in a world of increasing complications and complexity. Today, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article I wrote about why synagogues need their own “Checklist Manifesto,” which you can read by clicking on this link.
Sacred institutions do sacred work, yet oftentimes the hustle and bustle of leading a synagogue or Jewish organization keeps us from remembering that our institutions are far more than the sum of all the things that we need to manage. Yesterday, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on Tu B’Shevat and naming the power of our sacred work, which you can read by clicking on this link.
Today, I was honored to find out that my article “Will Your Synagogue Be a Club or a Cause?” was identified as one of the top ten articles on eJewishPhilanthropy for 2016. If you are interested in rereading this piece, click on this link.
Just as we are commanded to publicize the miracle of Hanukkah by placing the Hanukkah lights in our windows, Jewish institutions must gain greater comfort at trumpeting their visions in a world where fewer and fewer Jews speak Judaism as a first language. Today, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on what it means to be a “fool for Judaism” this Hanukkah, which you can read by clicking on this link. Hag Urim Sameah!
Conversations about the future of synagogues tend to focus on content, while largely relegating questions of structure to second-tier status. I propose that we pause and consider the possibility that synagogues are facing disruptive technologies that will affect their future in the same way that disruptive technologies affect many other marketplaces around North America. Today, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article I wrote applying the theory of disruptive innovation to synagogue change, which you can read by clicking on this link.