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  • Your Auxiliaries: Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) and North American Federation of Temple Brotherhoods present opportunities for newer members to get involved and learn about the congregation while serving worthwhile and community-building functions. The auxiliaries offer unique and valuable leadership training on the local, regional, and international levels.

  • Your Committees: Membership in and rising through the ranks of any congregational committee offer participants practical hands-on opportunities to learn about how to plan, follow through, and get things done within your congregation.

  • Your Union: The Union offers leadership training at its regional and biennial meet- ings and will even conduct leadership training seminars at your congregation.

As a board member, you may be called upon to chair a committee, which in itself is excellent leadership training. A challenging aspect of chairing a committee is leading a productive meeting. If you succeed, you will be rewarded with loyal and productive committee members, the successful achievement of your goals, and the respect of your congregation. Consider the following ten “commandments” for leading a productive synagogue meeting:

  • 1.

    Be prepared Schedule your meetings for the entire year, prepare an accurate agenda for each meeting beginning with Torah study, have all written material copied accurately, and make sure all presenters understand what is expected of them.

  • 2.

    Create an appropriate environment Reserve a quiet room and provide refreshments.

  • 3.

    Start on time Even if just a few people are present at the outset of the meeting, committee members will quickly appreciate the respectful aura you create.

  • 4.

    Follow your agenda It is the road map that will keep you on track and enable you to avoid inappropriate digressions.

  • 5.

    Treat everyone with respect Allow all members similar opportunities to speak, and consider all opinions thoughtfully.

  • 6.

    Clarify goals and expectations Participants will be more productive if they know what is expected of them.

  • 7.

    Record and review minutes Appoint one person to record minutes, or rotate this func- tion; request transcribed minutes one week before the next meeting for distribution in advance, along with the agenda for that meeting.

  • 8.

    Develop a follow-up plan Assign tasks to others at the meeting or soon thereafter, and keep a running list of what you need to do.

  • 9.

    End at a reasonable time Designate the length of time for each item on your agenda, and appoint a member to be the timekeeper.

  • 10.

    Conduct your business in accordance with Jewish values and ethics.

Although decision making by committee is not the most efficient process, it allows for an exchange of ideas and opportunities for socialization and involves many congregants in the process of governance. Empowering committees to make recommendations to the board fosters Jewish values by establishing an atmosphere of inclusivity.


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