Posts Tagged ‘Organizations’


Sign of the Times for the Jewish Community, Too: Alban Institute to Close

Posted on: March 20th, 2014 by Hayim Herring


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.



How to Minimize the Risk of Network Unweaving

Posted on: May 6th, 2013 by Hayim Herring


In continuing to think about conversations related to “network weaving” in organizations, I remembered Homer’s epic classic, The Odyssey. The heroine of the poem is Penelope, who has been separated from her husband, Odysseus for twenty years while he was away at war. Pursued by suitors, Penelope promises to remarry once she completes weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus’s elderly father. She weaves the shroud during the day, but as a stall tactic, every night for three years she undoes a part of her work until her deception is discovered. She’s a weaver by day and an un-weaver by night.


“Network weaving” is a term in vogue in Jewish organizations that refers to increasing the quantity and deepening the quality of social relationships. The emergence of this term reflects a paradigm inversion. Don’t expect community to grow top-down from activities, but out of organically fostered social ties. (You can learn more about network weaving by searching eJewishphilanthropy’s website.) But these efforts are likely to be threatened by two significant roadblocks: governance and mission. Why?



Relaunching Confidently Together Into the Future

Posted on: April 10th, 2013 by Hayim Herring

I recently made a presentation to a group of synagogue leaders in St. Paul. A very bright volunteer who was familiar with Synaplex , an initiative that I developed, asked me, “Why are your ideas about the Jewish community different since you last presented to our congregation?” My ineloquent answer: “Umm…things have changed since we last worked together.” Not exactly a satisfying answer, but that was the best I could do given the time constraints.


Later that evening, I asked myself, “Okay, many things changed. But what are some of the most significant changes that have occurred within the past five years or so?” Not coincidentally, this was a question that I had been thinking about for sometime. I have been very concerned about how organizations are either in paralysis, denial or a state of confusion as they struggle to conduct business in post-economic bust that is stubbornly persistent. I’ve seen some organizations: