Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Presidential Vacancy

Among the findings of the Pew Research report on American Judaism, there was a clear message that people regarded ideology more highly than the organizations that promote ideology.  Judaism has elements of religion and culture and ethnicity, all distributed in different proportions among the individuals who self-identify as Jewish.  As annoying as the institutions are, the civilization would collapse without them so there is a vested interest in keeping them afloat.  Everyone agrees that the decline occurred on some leader's watch and therefore more leadership is needed.  Not better leadership.  As the motto of the House of God attested, We're Not the Best but the Most.

When AKSE amended its bylaws a few years ago to eliminate term limits for all officers except President, I voted with the minority, predicting correctly they would take the path of least resistance and apply the Peter Principle to the executive function.  It's finally come home to roost with the Executive Committee functio0ning as a recycling center for willing people with functions of the officers taking the form of accounting of members or filling up schedules instead of the higher cognitive challenges of planning, creating better relations with congregants, making the sanctuary sparkle or more simply, making entry into the building for whatever purpose a form of K'doshah.  It's not happened.  Eventually the Bylaws mandated Presidential turnover takes effect and nobody from the executive board is really promotable.  While nearly all have been there five years, all have one year's experience repeated five times when they should have amassed five years experience.  And no takers at any level of talent or vision.

So if the Presidency remains vacant and the various VP's plod along in their usual way, will anyone be able to tell?  There are objective measures such as membership, attendance at events, maybe volume of programming if not its quality.  There are real intangibles, most importantly community reputation, which defies measurement but frames the attractiveness of the congregation as people shift from one place to another, or if the Pew study is accurate, pursue their own form of Jewish entropy.

While the Rabbi really cannot be burdened as CEO, and really is an entity separate from membership, he can be expected to promote Rabbi Schwarz' Megatrends suggestion that congregations need to create Chachma, Tzedek, Kehillah and K'doshah independent of how well or ineptly the governance supports those things, or even realizes what constitutes those things.  From a congregational standpoint, I've found the governance approach to congregational appeals for generosity from the constituents as more of solicitation that we owe AKSE more than AKSE has cemented relationships that merit special consideration.  And until that view changes at the leadership level, meaning a cadre of people with a different mode of thought doing the promotion, it will be very hard to reverse the rather predictable decline no matter who holds the title of President.

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