The Alban Institute announced yesterday that it is closing. Until not long ago, Alban was the premiere publishing house and consulting firm for churches. Even before it began a concerted effort to work with synagogues, I knew many rabbis who drew heavily upon its abundant resources. What made Alban unique was its ability to apply serious research to real-world issues of congregations: leadership, conflict, clergy personality types, congregational culture, finances—and pretty much every pertinent issue for congregations. When it opened 40 years ago in 1974, it was far ahead of its time. Now, like so many religious endeavors, it seems that time has passed it by.
So what can the Jewish community learn from this significant event?
• Organizations have lifecycles. There is wisdom in knowing when it’s time to turn off the lights.
• If you are personally involved in one of these situations it can be incredibly painful and stressful.