December 1, 2017 (slightly modified from article appearing in the December Shofar)
In late November the Congregational Long Term Planning process entered the small group meeting phase, during which we will provide every member of the Congregation with the opportunity to participate in the discussion of what we would like the Congregation to be in 3-5 years. We anticipate holding at least 15-20 small group sessions between now and January 10th to ensure that every member of the Congregation has the opportunity to participate in this process.
The purpose of this article is to provide an update on where we are in this process—what we have accomplished to date and what remains to be done.
Tasks initiated and completed to date
In late 2016 the Committee prepared and submitted our application to be one of just a handful of synagogues to participate in this year’s United Synagogue Sulam program for long term planning. This included our initial internal and external research of facts related to our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges as a Congregation.
Earlier this year in June-August, we conducted and evaluated a Congregational survey. The survey was intended to develop additional information as to perspectives within the Congregation of our strengths and weaknesses and to begin the process of engaging the membership in this year-long evaluation and dialogue. We hoped to have at least 20-25% of the Congregation respond to the survey and this was achieved.
September and October were spent with additional information gathering through meetings with most of the committee chairs/acting chairs and some committee members who serve on one of the Beth Emeth’s nine committees. These meetings were extremely helpful in identifying specific ideas, needs, concerns and visions that should be addressed as we work on the long-term plan. We hope to meet by December 1st with the chairs/members of some of the committees who were not available in September or October.
The small group sessions are intended to provide individual Congregation members with the opportunity to share their perspectives in small meetings of approximately 10 individuals, a size that is hoped to facilitate participation and discussion. Many sessions will be held in homes, with several to be held at the shul. We conducted the first training session for the leaders (facilitators) and reporters for these meetings in October, as well as held the first small group meeting. A second training session will be held in November. A critical need will be for members of the Congregation to host meetings in their homes. If you would be willing to help, please contact the office or Robyn Feuerberg or Jane Torman as soon as possible. A special thank you to Kate Rosenberg, Hillary Hirsch, Liz Cordero and Rachel Shor for assisting with the outreach to our young professional and young family members.
Remaining Tasks and Anticipated Time Frame
We expect to conduct at least five of the small group meetings this November, with the remaining meetings to occur in December or early January. We hope to complete these meetings by mid January.
The survey and meetings with committee leaders have identified items that will require further study, and the small group meetings will likely identify additional areas to review and research. We will be creating Task Groups to address these items. These Task Groups will be formed by December 20th. We are planning to have these Task Groups complete their work and submit their reports by the end of February. If you are interested in serving on a task group, please contact the office or Aaron Schulman, Keith Rubin or Jay Myerson.
The Committee initiated work on the Congregational Vision Statement at the November Congregational Board meeting, using much of that meeting to brainstorm vision building in a session led by our United Synagogue advisor, Nadine Kochavy. Work will continue and accelerate on the vision statement with an expectation that a draft of the Vision Statement will be submitted to the Board by April 4. The hope is that the Final Vision Statement will be approved by the Board and presented to the Congregation by June, with implementation starting with the newly elected Board during 2018.
If you are interested in assisting with the Long Term Planning effort, please contact the office, Keith, Aaron or Jay. If you have not received an invitation to attend a small group session by November 27th, please call the main main office (703) 860-4515 ext 101 and we will make sure that you are invited to one.
Dear Fellow Congregants:
Periodically, successful organizations engage in a long term plan review. Congregation Beth Emeth has done this in the past and it is time to do so again. The goal of this effort is to engage the Congregation in dialogue, focusing not on the Congregation’s challenges of the next week, month or even year, but rather to examine our Congregation’s mission and define our vision for where we would like the Congregation to be three, five, ten years from now.
This endeavor will require the active participation not just of our chairs or committees but the entire Congregational community.
This effort is being undertaken as part of United Synagogue program known as Sulam for Strategic Planners. Its mission is to guide leaders through the process of creating a mission and vision for the future, assessing the wants and needs of their community, and developing strategies that best utilize their capacities resulting in an implementable action plan to strengthen congregations.
We anticipate that this strategic planning effort will take approximately a year to 18 months to complete and it is our current expectation to finish it by to July 1, 2018.
United Synagogue has selected six Congregations from around the United States to form a strategic planning action community to go through this process together. The other five Congregations synagogues selected to participate in the current process are: Ahavath Achim (Atlanta, Ga.), Beth Yeshurun (Houston, Tex.), Tiferet Beit Israel (Blue Bell, Pa.), Agudas Achim (Alexandria, Va.) and Orangetown Jewish Center (Orangeburg, N.Y.).Rabbi Mina and Keith Rubin attended an all-day training session in New York City in March, braving the ferocious non-blizzard. There will be a follow-on session in Atlanta in December.
It is important that everyone in the Congregation recognize that this effort is going to be a process. Currently, the core Long Term Planning Committee is recruiting task force leaders and members for the three primary task forces: Data Gathering; Mission/ Vision; Communications. Over the next twelve months there will be many discussions with staff, committee chairs, board members, trustees, at least one Congregational survey, and many small group meetings with interested Congregants. The result of this effort will be an action plan approved by the Congregation’s Board.
We anticipate that much of the fact-finding work will be performed in the coming months and will be completed by the end of the summer. Please watch for a Congregational survey that is expected to be distributed shortly, and for your invitations to small group discussions over the coming few months.
The current core committee includes co-chairs Jay Myerson and Keith Rubin, Marty Zelman, Rabbi Mina, Fran Besalel, Leslie Lesch, Linda Eisinger, and Alex Stillman. Additional members will be added as the process progresses, to include former long term planning members and other past, current, and future congregational leaders and members.
As the chairs, we will be coordinating this effort and facilitating the Congregational discussion. We will be providing regular updates at Board meetings and providing progress communications to keep the entire Congregation informed as we will need the active involvement of the entire Congregation for this effort to succeed.
We look forward to working with you in this process and we will be sharing information and updates starting in June at http://bethemeth.org/strategic-planning.
Jay Myerson and Keith Rubin
Chairs, Long Range Planning Committee