Thursday, March 29, 2012


AKSE accepted the report  of its nominating committee.  While the Rabbi has never taken a position on human cloning he may not have to since the President's relatively hand-picked governance assembly comes pretty close.  There has been negligible turnover in officers since a By-laws amendment a few years ago did away with term limits for all officers but the President.  Diversity of thought, or even creativity of uniform thought, has not been there in a while.  Membership reports, the lifeblood of the congregation not only financially but for future vibrancy, have become lists of who came and who departed when they should be opportunities to develop the people they have and plan expansion to the people they might like to have.  Financial reports again come across as lists rather than analysis of where to put the resources that we have and reallocate them for a purpose.  My lab sheets are also aggregates of numbers but they generated decisions.  The financial reports do not.  This is a variant of human cloning where everyone looks and thinks alike, where recessive genes or organizational incest take form as the norm.  I do not think a person or an organization can pursue excellence with that manner of uniformity.

Lest I be too harsh, AKSE is not the only place that defaults to mediocrity due to inability to engage the most capable baalebatim. presented a wonderful symposium recently on this reality that has pervaded many synagogues.

There are entrepreneurs and there are corporate system managers.  There are people who work with what is there and there are people whose talent is to pursue what might be.  All four are not only needed for a place to thrive but all four need to be valued to for what they bring to the composite.  That has not been the case at AKSE for some time.  There are only two entrepreneurial visionaries which may be what is needed but the most capable third got lopped off.  There is no outreach to legitimate talent that would prefer to stand outside the tent and pee in.  As annoying as they sometimes are, or maybe more accurately as we sometimes are, they protect you from a course of mediocrity misrepresented as pseudoexcellence.  Increasingly AKSE has not been a place that justifies the benefits of laytzanos.  Its results reflect that.  Nobody puts themselves out to read more than a shlish of Torah or a haftarah that was not their Bar Mitzvah portion.  It is dominated by functionaries who fill slots in schedules.  They get filled but nobody gets the satisfaction inherent in meeting a new challenge.

A dearth of baalebatim may have infused much of the Jewish world, one in which people increasingly seem rewarded more for their loyalty than their ability.  There really are people of ability around pursuing the things that challenge and satisfy them.  The Jewish organizational world, AKSE among them, has just accepted less than it could have had.  Unfortunately projects like the Nominating Committee functioning as a Telephone Tree for the President when it should be an analytical body assessing what different people can do to make AKSE a more attractive place reinforce the impression that other forums value talent, energy, and diversity more.

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