Posts Tagged ‘Synaplex’

 

Relaunching Confidently Together Into the Future

Posted on: April 10th, 2013 by Hayim Herring No Comments

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:

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Incomprehensible: My Reaction to Cyd Weissman’s Blog Post

Posted on: March 11th, 2013 by Hayim Herring

 

I read a blog post by a friend and very talented colleague of mine, Cyd Weissman, titled, “Surprisingly East to Quit My Synagogue” with disbelief. Perhaps I could have understood the response of her clergy if it was 2000 and not 2013. But while I try to be respectful of my fellow klei kodesh (clergy), their response to Cyd’s request is incomprehensible to me. And I say this as a former congregational rabbi who, already in the mid-1980s, was working in congregation that already had multiple happenings on Shabbat morning.

 

I’m only going to list three reasons why I find their response so baffling: (more…)

Incomprehensible: My Reaction to Cyd Weissman’s Blog Post

Posted on: March 11th, 2013 by Hayim Herring

I read a blog post by a friend and very talented colleague of mine, Cyd Weissman, titled, “Surprisingly East to Quit My Synagogue” with disbelief. Perhaps I could have understood the response of her clergy if it was 2000 and not 2013. But while I try to be respectful of my fellow klei kodesh (clergy), their response to Cyd’s request is incomprehensible to me. And I say this as a former congregational rabbi who, already in the mid-1980s, was working in congregation that already had multiple happenings on Shabbat morning.

I’m only going to list three reasons why I find their response so baffling:

I hope that the leadership of the congregation will reconsider its stance.  I am sure that their efforts where well intentioned, but their logic is flawed.

Renewal Efforts: Synagogue Friend or Foe?

Posted on: June 11th, 2009 by Hayim Herring No Comments

Rather than focusing on a particular organizational topic this week, I wanted to make sure you’ve seen a fascinating online debate about synagogue renewal efforts.

It was initiated by a post by Rabbi Gerald Skolnik on Synagogue 3000’s Synablog entitled Synagogue 3000: A Concurring Dissent; Or, Of Babies and Bathwater.  Rabbi Skolnik first describes his Orthodox childhood and education and his journey to becoming a Conservative Rabbi. 

Rabbi Skolnik writes:

It is from this vantage point that I approach the work of Synagogue 3000, STAR, and similar organizations dedicated to the re-creation and re-vitalization of the American synagogue. I understand the challenge at hand. I work with those “Jews in the pews” (or not in the pews!) every day, and know the deep sense of alienation that so many of them feel from traditional synagogue worship and ritual. They are profoundly disconnected from that world of Jewish practice that I live, breathe, and so value. But I have a nagging feeling that, though I understand the goals of organizations like Synagogue 3000 and appreciate what they are trying to accomplish, re-creating the synagogue and its worship is, at its core, a flawed enterprise. That’s why I’ve called this piece a “concurring dissent:” an oxymoron if ever there was one. I agree with the problem, but I’m uncomfortable with the solution. We are changing the davening to suit the daveners, and in so doing, we are losing something precious and irretrievable.

STAR is mentioned specifically in the post and I’ve responded fully to Rabbi Skolnik’s comments. Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve offered to meet with Rabbi Skolnik in Minneapolis or New York to explore the rich, independent data we’ve gathered over the years which tell a story of positive impact that our initiatives have had on congregations of all denominations across North America.  We have a good grasp on what has been successful and what has not, and we think that it’s important to have conversations with others who share our passion for Jewish life and the synagogue which are informed both by feeling and fact. 

We are inspired by the rabbis and synagogues with whom we work – their willingness to hold on to two goals simultaneously: 

These goals can be compatible.

We encourage you to take a few minutes to weigh in on these issues.  Read the Synablog post and comments.

Rabbi Hayim Herring