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The “development synagogue” based on a culture of relational organizing Meir Lakein Greater Boston Synagogue Organizing Project, 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "The “development synagogue” based on a culture of relational organizing Meir Lakein Greater Boston Synagogue Organizing Project, 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 The “development synagogue” based on a culture of relational organizing Meir Lakein Greater Boston Synagogue Organizing Project, 2005

2 How can we become a development synagogue? Synagogues can use the tools of broad based community organizing not only to build power to create a better world for their families – they can use the same tools to learn how to become a “development synagogue.” This creates a virtuous cycle. Healthy, Development Synagogue Culture Successful Broad Based Organizing A thriving development synagogue is able to engage in successful community organizing A synagogue uses the tools of broad based organizing, the leaders it develops through organizing, and the lessons it learns from organizing to create a better congregation.

3 How will we know a development synagogue when we see it?

4 The synagogue is built around talented leaders The synagogue is always working to identify, recruit, develop, support, and honor leaders who: Can bring many people they know together to work on a common goal Act rather than wait for others Are accountable Prefer acting collectively to individually Develop other leaders

5 The synagogue has a clear mission NOT a dusty mission statement – a sense of where they want to go, why they matter in the world, and how they will do G-d’s work The clearer the better The more people who know it and are willing to act on it, the better The more people who feel that they had a role in creating it, the better

6 People determine the needs and programs, not vice versa We often think the “salvation” of our synagogues is one more perfect program. That’s making the cart bigger while the same size horse is pulling it – which leads to burnout. In organizing, people come together to identify their passions and values and then develop programs for these identified constituencies – building up the horse before adding to the cart. peopleprograms

7 The synagogue is constantly engaged in ACTION and evaluation The primary mode of activity is clear action that leads to tangible change – educated Jews, engaged youth, social justice – not constant committee meetings. Efforts and meetings are focused on the action people are trying to accomplish and the reactions they hope to generate. Action generates a sense of possibility; the assumption is that congregants can act together on their vision, around ritual, learning, community building, or social justice. The evaluation that is automatically part of any action asserts that action is also a learning opportunity. Part of the idealism of possibility is the assumption that people can learn to do even better.

8 The cycle of an organizing campaign The synagogue uses organizing tools to identify a common concern, develop the leaders to address it, formulate a concrete strategy to bring about concrete improvements, carry out that strategy, evaluate, and end that campaign. It uses the same tools to improve the synagogue internally that it would use to organize for justice. Outreach : 100s of discussions to find out what is important to people Leadership: Forming a team of leaders responsible for the campaign Research and Strategy: Learning how to turn the “problem” into an “issue” that people can address Action: Many months of carrying out the strategy, tapping the relationships and resources needed to succeed and involving as many as possible Evaluation: Formally learning from the campaign

9 The synagogue has members, not customers It is NOT providing a fee for service to customers It IS connecting members to something larger than themselves It encourages and helps members act in ways that are meaningful to them and help them grow as people and as Jews It practices the iron rule: never do for others what they can do for themselves

10 The synagogue develops its staff Staff is a resource to be developed. Staff should set priorities and do them well rather than being everything to everyone.

11 The congregation uses the 1:1 relational meeting to build relationships and identify leaders and priorities Relational meetings are one of the most effective ways to identify common interests and new potential leaders and to build a culture of relationship, stewardship, and commitment. People in development synagogues relate through conversation, rather than announcements. Relational meetings are built into the life of the synagogue, including meetings, and sometimes even services. A 1:1 is a face-to-face conversation for two people to develop a public relationship by sharing their stories, values, concerns, self-interests, and visions.

12 The synagogue is always training and teaching The synagogue sponsors regular trainings and follows them up with opportunities for new leaders to act on what they have learned. Leaders combine skills training and Jewish learning to grow both as leaders and as Jews. The best leaders and best staff train other leaders Experienced leader New leader

13 The synagogue relates to the outside world and makes it better. Part of how the synagogue asserts that Judaism is about every hour of every day of our lives is by working to have an impact on communal issues and issues of justice that people care about. The only way the synagogue will have enough power to do this will be to work with other institutions which can help it build power and help it learn. “A prisoner cannot free himself from prison”, TB Berachot 5b

14 The synagogue respects people’s time Meetings and events start and end on time. Meetings don’t last more than an hour and a half unless there is special business. Meetings without clear purpose are cancelled.

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