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CREATING A MODEL OF LEADERSHIP

A

LEADER

MUST

A LW AYS

SH OW

RESPECT

FOR

TH E

C O M M U N I T Y.

TA L M U D,

SOTAH

40A

As a synagogue board member, it is appropriate for you to educate yourself about Judaism and leadership and to also provide such opportunities for the members of your congregation.

Educating yourself Jewishly can simply mean taking advantage of the myriad opportunities that are available to you: Studying our heritage, our history, and our traditions; learning about the Reform Movement and its place in the world today; taking advantage of Jewish cultural opportunities, such as plays, movies, books, and music; enrolling in courses and attending lectures; understanding what is happening in Israel and the meaning of those events for every Jew; and seeing the world through Jewish eyes.

Some specific ways in which educating yourself Jewishly can enhance your role as a board member and your relationship with the congregation include

  • Attending Torah study sessions, learning how to lead a d’var Torah, encouraging others to do so, and starting each board and committee meeting with Torah study. The Union’s Ten Minutes of Torah (www.urj.org/Torah/ten) is a searchable online source of board and committee study material.

  • Committing yourself to acknowledging members’ life-cycle events by bringing meals to a new mother and the proud grandparents; presenting bar/bat mitzvah gifts from the bimah; visiting sick or homebound members; and attending shivah minyanim.

  • Becoming comfortable with Hebrew so that you can learn to chant Torah and be a lay leader of minyanim and other services.

  • Connecting with Israel and organizing a trip by your temple or another local Jewish organization.

  • Attending Union regional and international biennial meetings, reading Union publications, and visiting the Union Web site at www.urj.org.

It is also important for you to educate yourself about leadership and to work with your board to encourage others to become involved in synagogue life by developing a good system of training leaders within your congregation and also taking advantage of outside opportunities.

At the outset, you can foster leadership by treating your fellow members with respect and promot- ing free thinking. You will create a more dynamic congregation by encouraging thinking “out of the box,” keeping an open mind, welcoming new ideas and ways of doing things, encouraging creativity and openness to change, and making it possible for board and committee members to be risk takers when sharing their ideas.

Board orientations and leadership training programs are often utilized to educate new and potential board members. You may also consider consulting the following other resources for yourself and your congregation:

UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM • 13

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