Sometimes I get annoyed with the congregational leadership. Sometimes the irritations are petty, sometimes they seem to be neglecting activities that portend the future. Among my beliefs, probably true though maybe not, is that if Shabbos does not measure up as a synagogue's centerpiece, none of the other offerings will compensate for that. And so it was when the last few times I entered the place of worship and found that nobody had placed the necessary Chumashim, or in the main sanctuary even ample siddurim. I have come into the building on a Shabbos morning to find the talesim strewn when it would have been more attractive to find them neatly folded. My daughter visited in January, commented that she felt chilly, yet the basket of woolen or acrylic shawls kept in a basket for that purpose were not displayed in their usual conspicuous place. So last Shabbat with the President in the pews I pulled him aside and asked him to count books in a few of the rows. I then asked if there was a checklist of who had to do what for Shabbat. There wasn’t. Moreover he seemed rather annoyed at the question but at least not hostile, something that I cannot say when I posed the suggestion to the Ritual Chairman at Kiddush who retorted in his lawyerly way that if I thought it was important I could write a draft myself, give it to him and he would have the Rabbi edit it. Hardly Embracing/Engaging/Enriching as the logo on the Home Page displays.
So should I write it? There are things that are just fine. The Torah is always at its proper place, the big print haftarah book is always to be found. Kiddush has been a reliable centerpiece worth the price of admission every week. The weekly newsletter is mostly accurate. Never saw any litter on the floor on Shabbos morning. If a mechitza is needed it is set up. Yet there really isn’t a sense of having to correct what is obviously deficient, and perhaps even a little irritation with the messenger.
There was an interesting study some years back. With the disclaimer that I didn’t read it but know about it second hand, it involved neurosurgeons in a training program whose entering class was tracked forward many years. Of the cohort, most become neurosurgeons in various communities but a few achieved major prominence or became department chairmen while some dropped out of the residency to do something else. The one consistent characteristic that separated the future stars from the drop-outs was their tenacity in correcting their own shortcomings, whether spending extra time in the research lab or acquiring a mentor to show them the fine points. They were the ones who moved ahead. That's true of upper tier places of worship as well.