Thursday, July 29, 2010

Synagogue Committees

Over the years my professional and Jewish life has brought me to multiple committees.  Some had specific tasks like arranging a symposium for the local medical society.  More often the mission did not have an end point, and too often no point at all.  When I took my synagogue sabbatical in 2008, I set aside all my committee work except for our Education Committee which meets tonight.  We sponsor a variety of programs, most continuations of what we did last year.  Newton understood that inertia gives the world stability and predictability.  And then there is my program, known as the AKSE Academy, concepted by me (or actually a form of Genevah purloined from what another place does better) and designed by me as a hybrid of a medical style professional meeting and four ring circus.  My intent was to have two sessions of four classes on a variety of off-the-beaten path topics give by people who actually had proficiency in those areas.  The evening would start with Havdalah and have a brief social schmooze between classes.  Assembling classes to be taught by people with expertise?  Maybe a foreign concept in a world where mediocrity of the Hebrew School classroom has become the way Judaism is imparted to large numbers of people.  The initial project was well received, particularly in the quality of the classes so it is now time to set some rules and standards that can be perpetuated while the program morphs into a signature event to be used as a means of attracting more people to our synagogue.

With the committee meeting tonight, I have to assemble some thoughts.  What I want to establish this year might be called a predictable structure.  I'd rather exclude clergy and just have this as a congregant driven event to showcase the talent that our congregation has that none of the other places can duplicate.  This may not fly as derech eretz and clergy always attract people into the classrooms even if the subject were researched the night before and could be duplicated by a kid in the dalet class.  Last year I had a guest and would like to do the same each year.  I already know who I want and what I'd like him to talk about.  Ideally the guest should be an individual who used to attend our shul but moved on to make good for him or herself someplace else.  We have enough of those people to last about another six years.  If they tee me off enough and I leave, then perhaps seven, eight counting my wife.

I think I can create all six machshava sessions from actual events that took place under the synagogue that irritated me.  There might be a discussion of "Titles and Entitlement", the views of self as presented by Hillel and Miss Piggy, excessive piety, the broad spectrum of Genevah and Gezeilah, beauty or sacred space assigned to building committee VP's who will definitely have to look this up.  And then there are changing roles of women, both in the frum world and in Israel.  That is our Achilles Heel.  More will undoubtedly emerge.

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