Fools for Judaism

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!

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Can Synagogues Develop a Playbook to Survive Disruption?

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.

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Unetaneh Tokef and Courageous Vulnerability

As Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur rapidly approach on the Jewish calendar, it is important that we take time to ask ourselves what these holidays teach us about what we gain by exposing our true selves as leaders.   Today, The Times of Israel published my latest blog post on Unetaneh Tokef and the power of vulnerability, which you can read by clicking on this link.

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Looking at Zion

Few things hurt the Jewish people more than our current inability to have an honest and civil conversation about Israel.   To change the conditions of the conversation, Israeli editor Yinon Royhman created Looking at Zion, an online forum where Jews around the world can share their honest thoughts about Israel.  I was honored to be interviewed for this project, and you can read my responses by clicking on this link.

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Institutions Are Not Holy

Jewish institutions are my life and my livelihood.   However, I consider it essential for Jewish leaders to remember that our mission and vision are far more important and holy than any given institutional structure.   Today, I published my latest piece in The Times of Israel about what Tisha B’Av can teach about the courage to name failure and align ourselves with God’s mission, which you can read by clicking on this link.

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Will Your Synagogue Be a Club or a Cause?

The synagogue of the twentieth-century was designed to be a club, a place where membership itself was a form of participation. But at a time when all membership organizations face dwindling numbers, a thriving synagogue in the twenty-first century must be a cause, a place where people invest their time, energy and money because the purpose and mission of that synagogue compels them to engage.   Today, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article I wrote about what it means for a synagogue to be a cause, which you can read by clicking on this link.

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Community, Covenant and Polarity Management

When trying to solve a painful and difficult challenge, leaders must developing a genuine sensitivity to diametrically opposing views so that they might develop the capacity to navigate a seemingly intractable problem, what Barry Johnson calls “polarity management.” This week, I published a blog post on The Times of Israel about Shavuot and whether or not the Jewish Community is capable of managing polarities together, particularly regarding intermarriage.   You can read the article by clicking on this link, and read a quote I gave to The Jewish Week about the challenges of working with interfaith families by clicking on this link.

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Can We Fight Fairly?

When my rabbi taught me how to do marriage counseling, he told me that one of the most important questions to ask a couple is, “How do you define a fair fight?”   For me, the question of how to fight fairly defines the long-term health of the relationship, both for individual couples and entire communities.   Today, I published a blog post for The Times of Israel about Passover and whether or not the Jewish Community has the courage to fight fairly.   You can read the article by clicking on this link.

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What Do You Do With An Idea?

Until Jewish organizations develop a heartfelt and systematic interest in trying to understand and meet the needs of unengaged and under-engaged Jews, little progress will be made in stemming the tide of disengagement with Jewish life.   Today, eJewishPhilanthropy published an article that I wrote with my friend and colleague Emily Winograd from The PresenTense Group on what Jewish organizations can learn by taking customer empathy seriously. You can read the article by clicking on this link.

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Organizational Mashups and Rethinking Millennial Engagement

One of my proudest achievements in putting together the program for the USCJ Convention was helping our organization rethink our strategy for engaging a greater number of millennial Jews, the end result being that 25% of the attendees at our convention were between the ages of 18-35.  eJewishPhilanthropy just published a piece that I wrote outlining our millennial engagement strategy, and the lessons that can be learned for other legacy organizations in the Jewish Community.   You can read the article by clicking on this link.

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