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Inside Leadership

If you listen closely, you can hear it – the inevitable sound of the shofar saying, “The High Holidays are coming…. The High Holidays are coming…”

With these sacred days so close at hand, congregations fill with familiar refrains around tickets, seating, and the inescapable questions about how to get people – especially millennials – in the door.

Last year, I sat with a group of 14 committed millennial Jews, leaders of Makom, Temple Sholom of Chicago’s 20s and 30s group, who were asking this very question. For most of them, a...

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When people sit together and there are words of Torah between them, the Shechinah dwells among them. (Pirkei Avot 3:2)

In Jewish communities, there is little that you do as a single individual. This is certainly true for those of us who are leaders.

A sense of community, belonging, and mutual support are culturally engrained in us as Jewish people. We pray in a minyan, and we are expected to provide for those less fortunate and to rejoice with the bride and groom. This communal network is especially important for those of us who are in leadership roles.


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Over the summer, I had the good fortune to serve on the faculty of Kfar Noar, URJ Camp Harlam’s unit of rising ninth graders. One of my responsibilities was to join the campers on their trip to New York City, where we attended Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway. 

Fiddler, based on a collection of short stories by Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, first debuted as a Broadway production in 1964 and has since been reproduced in countless theaters and made into a movie in 1971. Fiddler quickly became a part of the American cultural lexicon. 


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Jacqueline and Kevin Haney of North Caldwell wanted to send their children to a Jewish preschool, so last summer they took a look at the Early Childhood Center at nearby Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell. Because they both work traditional full-time hours, however, they were dubious that a synagogue preschool — even one with “extended hours” — would meet their needs. 

Jacqueline said that once they walked into the Agudath Israel preschool, “it...

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Congregational leaders work tirelessly to make their communities strong and allow them to flourish l'dor vador, from generation to generation. That includes bringing new families into the congregation, which strengthens the community both relationally and financially.

Of course, the inverse of a family choosing to join one congregation is that they don’t join the temple down the street or on the other side of town. As a result, our congregations often find themselves competing for every new member in the area.

This competitive spirit seems to extend to the online sphere....

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About Inside Leadership

Inside Leadership, the blog at, is a source for Reform Jewish leaders to get the latest news and though-provoking articles about Jewish communal life.