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July 3, 2015 | 16th Tamuz 5775
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Conference of Presidents FAQs

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  1. I have a question. Whom should I contact?
  2. How do I initiate a clergy search and how do I find out the details of such a process, which may or may not include transition planning? What are the available resources?
  3. What do I do when I have questions about the details of clergy contracts?
  4. How do we initiate a conversation about having a URJ-facilitated board workshop?
  5. With whom can I speak if I have questions about support for the Reform Movement or want to get more information about URJ Membership dues?
  6. What is the Knowledge Network and how can I connect its members?
  7. What is The Tent?
  8. How can I quickly access resources about key topics?
  9. What is the Consulting and Transition Management team?
  10. Are there marketing and communications resources available through the URJ?
  11. How do I update my congregation's leadership roster, including providing the correct names, email addresses and titles of our leaders?
  12. What in-person learning opportunities specifically for presidents does the URJ provide?
  13. What is the URJ Conference of presidents?

 

  1. I have a question. Whom should I contact?
    Congregational leaders can contact the Knowledge Network. The dedicated members of the Knowledge Network connect congregational leaders with the wisdom of the people and institutions of the Reform Movement. (Learn more about the Knowledge Network in question six.) Members of the Knowledge Network can be reached at URJ1800@urj.org and at 1.855.URJ.1800.

  2. How do I initiate a clergy search and how do I find out the details of such a process, which may or may not include transition planning? What are the available resources?
    The search process for rabbis is coordinated by the placement director of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and the search process for cantors is coordinated by the placement director of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC). You can initiate a search or find out information about the search process by contacting the placement directors:

For transition planning support and additional placement support, please contact the URJ Strengthening Congregations Consulting and Transition Management team, Rabbis Jan Offel and David Fine. (Learn more about this team in question nine.)

  1. What do I do when I have questions about the details of clergy contracts?
    There are three options for pursuing questions about clergy contracts. 

The first is to contact the Knowledge Network and ask to be connected with an expert on the subject. Knowledge Network team members work in partnership with the URJ's counsel, who can call upon a group of knowledgeable lay leaders who are familiar with clergy contracts, and who are available to consult on a number of contract issues. While most, if not all, are attorneys, they do not provide legal advice; congregational leaders are strongly urged to have their congregation's own counsel review any and all contracts. It should also be noted that there is no "one-size-fits-all" contract, regardless of the position, and the URJ's counsel can only provide samples of what has been successful in other congregations.

The second option is to contact either Rabbi Jan Offel or Rabbi David Fine (see contact information above) for non-legal contract questions.

The third option is to pose your question to other congregational presidents and leaders in The Tent, the URJ's online collaboration forum (see question seven).

  1. How do we initiate a conversation about having a URJ-facilitated board workshop?
    Contact Lay Resources Director Gila Hadani Ward (ghadaniward@urj.org). Provide information about your board and congregation, and discuss both your general needs and the specific goals that you have for a board workshop. Gila will then find an appropriate trained facilitator that is best suited for your situation.  

  2. With whom can I speak if I have questions about support for the Reform Movement or want to get more information about URJ Membership dues?
    Because there are several different types of issues related to support for the Reform Movement, the person with whom you should speak depends on the type of question you have. The URJ has professional staff who can address most questions, and there is a large cohort of lay leaders who can provide assistance and information, as well. Contact the URJ Membership department at mum@urj.org.   [RR1] 

Congregations can use the EZ Calculator program to send in their financial information.

  1. What is the Knowledge Network and how can I connect with its members?
    The Knowledge Network connects congregational leaders with the wisdom of the people and institutions of the Reform Movement. Led by Michael Goldberg, director, the Knowledge Network team includes Gabby Kozak, Merry Lugasy, Judi Ratner, Robin Riegelhaupt and Karen Sirota. The team is part of Amy Asin's Strengthening Congregations division. Among the team's responsibilities are responding to questions about congregational life and Reform Judaism; finding and sharing best principles and exceptional programming examples; and helping congregational and Reform Movement leaders maximize their Tent experience. (Learn more about The Tent directly below.) Connect with the Knowledge Network by emailing URJ1800@urj.org or calling 1.855.URJ.1800 (1.855.875.1800).

  2. What is The Tent?
    The Tent is the URJ's collaboration space, connecting congregational and Reform Movement leaders. Hosted on a platform called Yammer, The Tent is a forum in which you can have ongoing conversations with multiple cohorts as well as share and store documents. With a familiar social network feel, The Tent is user-friendly and easy to join. (Visit yammer.com/thetent to sign up.) In addition to The Tent, the URJ has created a space within Yammer that is exclusively for congregational presidents (past and present), the Presidents' Lounge. This network has the same usability as The Tent network; the difference is the Presidents' Lounge is open only to presidents. The conversations that used to take place on PresConf are now taking place in the Presidents' Lounge. (Visit yammer.com/presidentslounge to sign up.)

  3. How can I quickly access resources about key topics?
    Visit The Tent! It is the place for congregational and Reform Movement leaders to connect with, ask questions of and learn from one another. In addition to engaging with your fellow leaders, you can also use The Tent's powerful search function to look for specific resources. Simply type your search term into the search box (located on every Tent page), and filter through the results to find what you need.

  4. What is the Consulting and Transition Management team?

The URJ Strengthening Congregations Consulting and Transition Management Team boasts the talents and expertise of Rabbi Jan Offel and Rabbi David Fine. When there is a transition of the senior or only rabbi in a synagogue; when there is an issue between clergy and lay leadership; when there is a crisis situation within the congregation; when there are questions about collaboration or merger, as well as other matters of significant change (whether anticipated or unplanned), Rabbis Offel and Fine are available for consultation and referral. (See contact information above.)

  1. Are there marketing and communications resources available through the URJ?
    Yes. Several marketing and communications resources have been added to The Tent (see the Communications group in Yammer; additional resources are continually added). In addition, the URJ provides guidance on creating bulletins and websites, including the popular RJ Web Builder program, which provides websites to URJ congregations at no additional cost. There are also other suggestions for better communication with members and non-members.

  2. How do I update my congregation's leadership roster, including providing the correct names, email addresses and titles of our leaders?
    Whenever there is a change in congregational leadership, it is important to send such updates to the URJ so that relevant information gets to the appropriate people. You can easily update your congregation's leadership roster by using the URJ Confidential Congregational Update Tool. Should you have any questions about logging into or using the URJ Confidential Congregational Update tool, please contact our Data Management department at datamgmt@urj.org.

  3. What in-person learning opportunities specifically for presidents does the URJ provide?
    The Scheidt Seminar is the North American training institute for congregational presidents and presidents-elect, and is held each April in Atlanta, Georgia. Participants have the opportunity to meet other presidents; share ideas; and engage with the senior leadership of the URJ, including URJ President Rick Jacobs and URJ Chair Steven Sacks. For more information, write to ScheidtSeminar@urj.org.

  4. What is the URJ Conference of Presidents?
    The URJ Conference of Presidents (COP) is a body within the URJ comprised of presidents of URJ congregations. It serves to represent congregational presidents to senior professional and lay leadership within the URJ, including the URJ Board and Oversight Committee. In addition, the Conference of Presidents helps represent URJ leadership to congregational leaders.

The URJ COP is managed by a 16-person Steering Committee. The initial Steering Committee is comprised of 12 members who were appointed by the URJ district chairs, three from each district and four members appointed by the URJ chair. The members of the Steering Committee were selected to represent the geography, size and diversity of our congregations. Beginning in 2013, there have been elections for members of the Steering Committee in each district.

The URJ COP holds regular webinars for all presidents with Rabbi Jacobs and members of the URJ senior leadership, and other webinars as necessary. The URJ COP also conducts surveys of presidents so that it can accurately and properly represent the opinions and views of presidents to leadership.

The current roster of the Steering Committee is at the end of this document. You can contact the Steering Committee or URJ Conference of Presidents Chair Michael Laufer at confpresidents@urj.org.  

Union for Reform Judaism Conference of Presidents Steering Committee
(term beginning 9.1.13, as of 9.23.13)

[Note: because this document is posted in a public forum, contact information has been removed. For more information, write to confpresidents@urj.org.]

East District

Donald Simon, IPP
Rodef Shalom Congregation (1100)
Pittsburgh, PA

Steve Messner
Temple Sinai (1044)
Washington, DC
Term: 9/1/13 - 8/31/16

Eric Fels
Congregation Keneseth Israel (438)
Allentown, PA Term: 9/1/13 - 8/31/15

Lisa Borowitz
Congregation Kol Ami (751)
White Plains, NY
Term: 9/23/13-


West District

Judi Amsel, President
Congregation Brith Sholem (47)
Ogden, UT 

Jordan Sarick
Aspen Jewish Congregation (200)
Aspen, CO
Term: 9/1/13 - 8/31/16

Lori Stein
Leo Baeck Temple (555)
Los Angeles, CA
Term: 9/1/13 - 8/31/15          

Central District

Susan Burack, President
Temple Jacob (17)
Hancock, MI

Marc Whitefield, President
Temple Israel (3400)
West Bloomfield, MI

Paul Weichsel
Sinai Temple (281)
Champaign, IL
Term: 9/1/13-8/31/16

South District

Stephen Enda, IPP
Temple Shalom (800)
Dallas, TX

Paul Vanek, President
Agudas Israel Congregation (174)
Hendersonville, NC

Rick Glaser
Temple Beth El (1,086)
Charlotte, NC
Term: 9/1/13 - 8/31/16

 

URJ Board/Executive Committee

Michael Laufer, Steering Committee Chair, IPP

Temple Shaaray Tefila (1525)

New York, NY

 

Charlie Rothschild, Past President

Congregation Beth Am (1500)

Los Altos Hills, CA

 

 

David P. Kasakove, IPP

Congregation Beth Elohim (640)

Brooklyn, NY

Term: 9/1/13 -

 

Largest Congregation Task Force

Nancy Solomon, Past President

Congregation Rodeph Sholom (1700)

New York, New York

 

 

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