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.
While Tisha B’Av is a day on the Jewish calendar that commemorates major moments of destruction and despair, our rabbis see the events of Tisha B’Av as the result of little things and big things that the Jewish people got wrong. All of our communities worry about resolving major issues in the present and the future, yet oftentimes it is the minor issues that lead to dysfunction and strife. Today, The Times of Israel published a post I wrote on how Tisha B’Av teaches us the consequences of getting the little things wrong. You can read the post by clicking on this link.
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.