The 13th Annual URJ Scheidt Seminar for congregational presidents and presidents-elect that took place March 24-27, 2011, was a success by any measure. Eighty congregational leaders spent three days of intensive learning, exchange, worship, study and eating!!!
What makes the Scheidt Seminar truly unique is the emphasis on presidents sharing and interacting with each other. The participants hear from the URJ's president and board chair and they rotate through four workshops that provide them with tools for creating an effective presidency. Participants, divided into groups consisting of presidents from congregations of similar sizes, bond through the workshop cycle, and everyone joins together for worship and meals. On Shabbat afternoon, participants engage in an idea exchange, sharing a successful program from their own congregation. The bonds that are formed remain strong, with many participants staying in touch for years afterward.
This year's Seminar was the first time Rudi and Honey Scheidt from Temple Israel, Memphis, Tennessee, saw in action what their generosity has provided to so many congregations.
In 1997, retiring URJ Board member Rudi Scheidt asked the question: Why isn't there a place where presidents can talk with each and learn from each other; at the same time Rabbi Yoffie expressed a desire to provide consistent training for all URJ congregational presidents. Rabbi Lennard Thal, then URJ vice president and director of Regions, sat with Rudi and they drafted a plan on the back of an envelope and engaged other staff in that conversation. That initial program has been the framework of the Scheidt Seminar ever since.
Each Seminar has its own character, yet the more than 970 presidents who have gone through the Scheidt Seminar have all come away with information, materials and ideas for their congregation and support for their presidency from the URJ and from their fellow presidents. For more information about the Scheidt Seminar, contact Dale Glasser at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jean Bowdish at email@example.com.