Gila Hadani Ward

Gila Hadani Ward

Inside Leadership
Colorful image of a data growth chart against a white background as if on a desk

In 2016, the Union for Reform Judaism piloted an experiment. What would it look like if congregations could take an intentional look at themselves from different vantage points? What if each congregation could compare its internal data to congregations of like demographics? And what if we assigned each congregation a URJ-trained mentor to help them understand the data and catalyze change based on the results?

And so, the URJ Congregational Benchmarking and Assessment Project was born.

Since the first group of pilot congregations in 2016, 130 congregations have engaged in...

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Closeup of a reflective droplet hitting a body of water

By It’s that time of year again. The Hebrew month of Elul is here and in the Jewish community, life is abuzz. Schools are starting, we’re learning new melodies for the High Holidays, and we may even be buying new clothes for services (an annual tradition in my home growing up – a new dress for the New Year).

There is another custom that is an integral part of the spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe – that of cheshbon hanefesh, which literally means “taking an account of the soul.”

Although there is no one formula for taking an accounting of one’s soul, scholars...

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Sign-post with these signs: help, support, advice, guidance

There was a time when congregational leadership roles were clearly defined. Staff members served one role and volunteers served another. When an “expert” was needed, congregations either turned to outside consultants, or, if they were part of a denominational movement, they called the movement office to ask, “Who on your staff can work with our synagogue?”

Times have changed.

Although congregations still seek outside experts to work with congregations (and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) provides them), we also are training increasing numbers of volunteers to offer...

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