Rabbi’s Review – October 2018

Reflecting on Our Future

Rabbi Douglas Kohn


Dear Friends,

Our year is moving along. It is October, we are reading Genesis, Torah School has been in session for a few weeks, we had an inspiring High Holy Day season, and there is much that we are learning about Temple Beth El.

Here are a few thoughts from the last few months. These are observations and analyses, and offer starting points for reflecting on the Temple and our future.

Temple Beth El as a whole is flexible, yet patterned. We have our routinized schedule of services, of staffing, and of meetings, and we have that old standby or bugaboo: “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” And at the same time, there is an openness to consider novel ideas and to new approaches, though not infrequently this openness is colored by the comfortable routines. I have found both of these aspects of our congregational culture to be normal, and refreshing. However, it is helpful and wise to be sensitive to these two core traits of TBE.

Similarly we are rooted in our past, yet open to creativity. There is a distinct remembrance of the historicity of TBE, yet in my experience, this hasn’t impeded the will to explore new experiences in worship, study, and community. We should note that being rooted in history is not tantamount to being patterned or routinized. The former is a foundational ethic, the latter is a response to change. The former asserts a value system, the latter is a comfort. It is helpful to reflect on the meaning of our history in establishing the value system for our future.

We have both strong leadership, and we have leadership opportunities. We have been fortunate with our lay leadership, yet we do not have a leadership training program, nor a clearly articulated process for recruiting and establishing leadership and leadership succession. Yet, leadership training and development would offer long-term benefits. Thus, we have opportunities for our membership, and especially for our younger and newer members, to advance in Temple involvement and leadership.

We have a devoted staff which especially appreciates collegiality. With much staff change and transition this summer, building collaboration and collegiality have been priorities. Recognizing that the newcomers required the input of the existing staff, there has been a remarkable culture of supporting, advising, questioning, and listening. I do hope that this staff ethos will continue and remain a central character of TBE’s DNA going forward.

So, these are a few of my observations. I would deeply welcome your thoughts, assessments and opinions. Feel free to drop me an email (address is above). I’d welcome the ideas!