Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why a blog on temple boards?

As my maiden voyage into the blogosphere, BoredofDirectors.blogspot.com was based on my experience as a paid marketing consultant working with voluntary boards, mainly in trade milieus, and as a volunteer director and officer of voluntary boards, many in the synagogue milieu. Although it contains some good stuff, in rereading my posts there, I recognized that it was largely a way for me to vent about whatever was bugging me about the behavior or misbehavior of a given board. This blog will hopefully focus more on what's bugging others -- questions folks are asking at meetings, on list-servs, or wherever else I encounter them.

Although many issues overlap, some are more or less unique to synagogues, or take a special spin in that environment. And I've spent a huge chunk of my life working in synagogues -- 30 years or so on the board and in the presidency of a large urban Reform temple, 15 years on the road facilitating leadership development and strategic planning workshops for congregations from coast to coast, and several hours a month sharing my insights on synagogue issues with the subscribers to a variety of list-servs operated by the Union for Reform Judaism, where I post as hinneni@aol.com.

List-servs create an interesting dynamic, with some overtones of community for those who post, and presumably delivering some sort of satisfaction to those who only lurk. But what I write on temple-chat or iWorship is ephemeral, and restricted in its audience to subscribers. I'll guesstimate that at least 20,000 people, maybe more, serve on the boards of Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist synagogues -- I have virtually no insight into the governance of Orthodox congregations -- as compared to 1000 on my two major list-servs. Lots of people that I don't know know me, and when I meet them at conventions or meetings recognize the name Larry Kaufman.

So this medium creates the possibility (I won't hazard any guesses on the probability) of helping the leadership in two thousand synagogues of the liberal Jewish denominations in North America, and perhaps elsewhere in the world as well. And, as Jewish congregational leaders, perhaps they'll make a connection with the translation of my nom de list-serv, Hinneni, which means Here I am.

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