Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ending My Sabbatical

This has not been as easy as it would seem.  It was my intent to immerse myself in the type of thriving Judaism that has passed my congregation by these past few years, then return ready to engage in activities that would import what I've acquired.  Since the onset of 2014 I've run the possibilities past a few people, including one of the past presidents this morning.  Despite his position of responsibility and continuous commitment to the congregation since turning over his office to others, he could not come up with a single project for the betterment of the synagogue that currently remains undone.  I could come up with five while I was chatting with him at the breakfast table and tell him where his successors dropped the ball.

I think I will make the offer to the Rabbi next week, though I can guess his response.  I do not think he has a coherent vision of what the shul should be like and how the human resources within the congregation can get it there.  I doubt if the departing President did either.  If the Rabbi advises me to do something trivial like populate the current activities more rather than upgrade them, certainly my expectation, I'll pose the offer to the VP's, none of whom strike me as visionary either.

In his monograph, Tomorrow's Synagogues Today, Hayim Herring described the role of contemporary congregational Rabbi as part visionary and part talent scout.  I could say the same of the President who emasculated the latter role by turning the Nominating Committee into his telephone squad to populate the board with the people he wanted on it.

And while I am probably their principal scholar with the most innovative, critical mind, that has a lot less value to them than adding your tush to the Sunday morning minyan, even though you do nothing more while there than add to attendance.  The untapped talent strikes me as stunning coming from a professional environment where one's knowledge and skill is usually the coin of the realm.  I do not think it has been in the non-Orthodox Jewish world for some time, with an outcome relatively predictable from that approach.

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