We are excited to announce that Temple Beth Sholom of Santa Ana, CA is one of 10 Reform congregations in North America selected to participate in a new Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) cohort. The URJ Congregational Governance Community of Practice (CoP) is a learning and networking group for Reform congregations that are ready to deeply analyze their governance culture and structures and identify an area for experimentation.
By participating in this initiative, our leadership team will meet with leaders from other URJ congregations to learn, share ideas and challenges, and form a network of support. We will also have access to the URJ’s professional staff and expert consultants, some of the most renowned thought leaders in their fields.
Our cohort will work together formally for 10 months to explore best principles of 21st-century congregational governance. We will delve into topics including foundational statements, governance structure, leadership culture, and leadership development. As part of this project, we will participate in virtual convenings, coaching sessions, online discussions, and targeted sessions at the URJ Biennial 2019. We will also plan and implement an experiment in a specific area of congregational governance.
“As the oldest congregation in Orange County with a dynamic new board of directors, we felt that the best way to develop new leadership models was to utilize the many resources of URJ” said Mitchell Cohen, President. “I attended the URJ’s Scheidt Seminar for new & incoming presidents back in February of 2019 & was very impressed by Rabbi Jacobs & his team of professionals, eager to guide us & share best practices for the nearly 900 URJ synagogues.”
Temple Beth Sholom’s Rabbi Heidi Cohen & Executive Director Ruth Irving also attended the URJ’s 4-part Congregational Governance Course from April to June with Mr. Cohen. In addition to inducting a new board of directors on June 12th, #TBSOC utilized URJ facilitator Skylar Cohen for their board retreat, July 7th, a Hawaiian retreat held in their Boardroom.
“Temple Beth Sholom of Orange County will always be a Jewish Center of Life, Learning & Connections. It’s imperative that we adapt to the challenges Reform Judaism faces, both internally & externally. This course & the networking opportunities it creates will help us accomplish that” said Mr. Cohen.
As participants in the inaugural cohort of this URJ CoP, our feedback and impressions will help shape future iterations of the program. Our experiences and outcomes may also be shared with the wider Reform movement.