Shefa's Rabbi Blog List
Monday, February 20, 2012
Two quick pieces:
1. David Horovitz, former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, has started a new online newspaper, The Times of Israel ( http://www.timesofisrael.com/ ). Aside from all the great things about online newspapers, it also has the option of letting nearly anyone write original op-ed/blog pieces for the site.
2. I figured I would share an adaptation of the devar torah that I shared last week with the Schechter Recommendations Committee. Among other things, this piece focuses on my thoughts regarding gay and lesbian rabbis: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/are-we-ready-to-meet-god-in-new-places/
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Ynetnews.com: "Yair Lapid: Shas has country 'wrapped around its finger'"
"Look how Shas, with 11 (Knesset) seats, has the entire country wrapped around its finger," the journalist-turned-politician told a business conference in Eilat.
Lapid, who left his job as a Channel 2 anchorman to join politics, said Israel "does not belong to interest groups, lobbyists or tycoons. It does not belong to stone-throwers or people who threaten IDF officers, and this country does not belong to politicians either. This country belongs to us. It belongs to those who pay taxes, those who do IDF reserve duty and whose children enlist in the army – it belongs to the Israeli middle class."
"Israel belongs to the State of Israel's working and productive public, which gives the most and receives the least in return. It belongs to the people who finally began asking 'where is the money?' This is a question I am going to ask again and again. It is not just a financial question, it is a moral one as well," he said.
'Palestinians don't have to fight us'
Lapid, whose late father Yosef (Tommy) Lapid led a political battle against the ultra-Orthodox Shas party as the head of Shinui party, said "look how Shas, with its 11 (Knesset) seats, has the entire country wrapped around its finger. Look howUnited Torah Judaism, which is even smaller than Shas, conquered the Finance Committee. Why? Because they know what they want."
In his speech, Lapid said the "damaged" system of government has turned politics into a "corrupt game in which we are constantly controlled by extortive sectors and factions.
"This is the year in which the red line has been crossed. Fifty percent of all first-graders are either ultra-Orthodox or Arab; this means that if we don't do something, within 12 years 50% won't enlist in the army or join the workforce – and that will be the end of the Zionist state.
"The Palestinians don't have to fight us; they can have a cup of coffee, smoke a cigarette and wait 12 years until the Zionist state collapses on its own," he told the conference.
In the first public speech since he entered politics on January 8, Lapid said changing the system of government should not take more than a year. His plan for changing the governing system included granting the largest party the automatic right to establish a government, raising Israel's 2% electoral threshold to 6% and raising the number of Knesset members needed to overthrow a prime minister in a no-confidence vote.
"This change will cause Israelis to vote for major parties, and, most importantly, the party will not be held hostage by small coalition factions," he said.
Lapid also called to revoke the so-called Tal Law, which exempts ultra-Orthodox from military service, and obligate haredim and Arabs to join civil service programs and study core subjects in school, "not because we are against them, but because we can no longer carry them on our backs."
Shas said in response that Lapid is trying to "blind the Israeli public, but the public is intelligent enough to understand this is deception."
In a statement, the party mocked Lapid, saying "as someone who risked his life for the country while serving at an army newspaper and whose education does not match that which is given at Shas' school system, Lapid has been trying for a while now to blind the public with verbal trickery."
Monday, February 13, 2012
Culture Eats Strategy For LunchBY FC EXPERT BLOGGER SHAWN PARRTue Jan 24, 2012
Get on a Southwest flight to anywhere, buy shoes from Zappos.com, pants from Nordstrom, groceries from Whole Foods, anything from Costco, a Starbucks espresso, or a Double-Double from In N' Out, and you'll get a taste of these brands' vibrant cultures.
Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment rather than navigating their days through miserably extensive procedures and mind-numbing bureaucracy. Performance-oriented cultures possess statistically better financial growth, with high employee involvement, strong internal communication, and an acceptance of a healthy level of risk-taking in order to achieve new levels of innovation.
Misunderstood and mismanaged
Culture, like brand, is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely component of business that belongs to HR. It's not intangible or fluffy, it's not a vibe or the office décor. It's one of the most important drivers that has to be set or adjusted to push long-term, sustainable success. It's not good enough just to have an amazing product and a healthy bank balance. Long-term success is dependent on a culture that is nurtured and alive. Culture is the environment in which your strategy and your brand thrives or dies a slow death.
Think about it like a nurturing habitat for success. Culture cannot be manufactured. It has to be genuinely nurtured by everyone from the CEO down. Ignoring the health of your culture is like letting aquarium water get dirty.
If there's any doubt about the value of investing time in culture, there are significant benefits that come from a vibrant and alive culture:
- Focus: Aligns the entire company towards achieving its vision, mission, and goals.
- Motivation: Builds higher employee motivation and loyalty.
- Connection: Builds team cohesiveness among the company's various departments and divisions.
- Cohesion: Builds consistency and encourages coordination and control within the company.
- Spirit: Shapes employee behavior at work, enabling the organization to be more efficient and alive.
Think about the Marines: the few, the proud. They have a connected community that is second to none, and it comes from the early indoctrination of every member of the Corps and the clear communication of their purpose and value system. It is completely clear that they are privileged to be joining an elite community that is committed to improvising, adapting, and overcoming in the face of any adversity. The culture is so strong that it glues the community together and engenders a sense of pride that makes them unparalleled. The culture is what each Marine relies on in battle and in preparation. It is an amazing example of a living culture that drives pride and performance. It is important to step back and ask whether the purpose of your organization is clear and whether you have a compelling value system that is easy to understand. Mobilizing and energizing a culture is predicated on the organization clearly understanding the vision, mission, values, and goals. It's leadership's responsibility to involve the entire organization, informing and inspiring them to live out the purpose the organization in the construct of the values.
Vibrant and healthy
Do you run into your culture every day? Does it inspire you, or smack you in the face and get in your way, slowing and wearing you down? Is it overpowering or does it inspire you to overcome challenges? It's important to understand what is driving your culture. Is it power and ego that people react to, and try to gain power, or a culture of encouragement and empowerment? Is it driven from top-down directives, or cross-department collaboration? To get a taste of your culture, all you have to do is sit in an executive meeting, the cafe or the lunch room, listen to the conversations, look at the way decisions are made and the way departments cooperate. Take time out and get a good read on the health of your culture.
Culture fuels brand
A vibrant culture provides a cooperative and collaborative environment for a brand to thrive in. Your brand is the single most important asset to differentiate you consistently over time, and it needs to be nurtured, evolved, and invigorated by the people entrusted to keep it true and alive. Without a functional and relevant culture, the money invested in research and development, product differentiation, marketing, and human resources is never maximized and often wasted because it's not fueled by a sustaining and functional culture.
Look at Zappos, one of the fastest companies to reach $1 billion in recent years, fueled by an electric and eclectic culture, one that's inclusionary, encouraging, and empowering. It's well-documented, celebrated, and shared willingly with anyone who wants to learn from it. Compare that to American Apparel, the controversial and prolific fashion retailer with a well-documented and highly dysfunctional culture. Zappos is thriving and on its way to $2 billion, while American Apparel is mired in bankruptcy and controversy. Both companies are living out their missions--one is to create happiness, and the other is based on self-centered perversity. Authenticity and values always win.
Uncommon sense for a courageous and vibrant culture
It's easy to look at companies like Stonyfield Farms, Zappos, Google, Virgin, Whole Foods, or Southwest Airlines and admire them for their passionate, engaged, and active cultures that are on display for the world to see. Building a strong culture takes hard work and true commitment and, while not something you can tick off in boxes, here are some very basic building blocks to consider:
- Dynamic and engaged leadership
A vibrant culture is organic and evolving. It is fueled and inspired by leadership that is actively involved and informed about the realities of the business. They genuinely care about the company's role in the world and are passionately engaged. They are great communicators and motivators who set out a clearly communicated vision, mission, values, and goals and create an environment for them to come alive.
- Living values
It's one thing to have beliefs and values spelled out in a frame in the conference room. It's another thing to have genuine and memorable beliefs that are directional, alive and modeled throughout the organization daily. It's important that departments and individuals are motivated and measured against the way they model the values. And, if you want a values-driven culture, hire people using the values as a filter. If you want your company to embody the culture, empower people and ensure every department understands what's expected. Don't just list your company's values in PowerPoints; bring them to life in people, products, spaces, at events, and in communication.
- Responsibility and accountability
Strong cultures empower their people, they recognize their talents, and give them a very clear role with responsibilities they're accountable for. It's amazing how basic this is, but how absent the principle is in many businesses.
- Celebrate success and failure
Most companies that run at speed often forget to celebrate their victories both big and small, and they rarely have time or the humility to acknowledge and learn from their failures. Celebrate both your victories and failures in your own unique way, but share them and share them often.
Shawn Parr is the The Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, IDEO, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie's Homegrown, The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen and World Vision. Follow the conversation at @BULLDOGDRUMMOND.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Welcome to Beth Sholom Congregation of Frederick, Maryland, the newest affiliate in our kehilla of kehillot.
What's New for You
Register Now to Go to Israel! - If, that is, you are between 22 and 26, or know someone who is eligible. This is for a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip with the Conservative movement. Registration opens February 15 and stays open for a short time, so if you want to see Israel through a Conservative movement (and free) lens, register now. Refer someone eligible and you can win an iPad2, an iPHone 4s, or a Macbook Air. Go on the trip, and you get to see Israel.
Ma'a lot Israel Education and Advocacy Grants - United Synagogue's Israel Commission and Nefesh b'Nefesh join to offer grants to kehillot for Israel education and advocacy. The intent to apply deadline is February 20. Email Kathy Elias for more information.
Sulam for Current Leaders
Find A High Holiday Cantor (Wait. What?) - It's not too early to look for a cantor for the high holy days, or for cantors to find a kehilla that requires their services. We can get you started; we also can help with placement for other Jewish professionals.
CJ's Almost in the Mail - The latest issue of CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism looks at rabbis without borders, kehillot (temporarily) without buildings, people (again temporarily) without jobs, synagogue buildings without Jews, and a Renaissance siddur with a surprisingly modern twist. And because, although it's not clear how this happened, Passover is just two months away, some recipes and a seder checklist. Expect CJ by the end of the month. And if you are among the leaders of your kehilla, and you do not get CJ, we can fix that! Please send us your mailing lists. Email Bonnie Ras for more information.
Letter to President Obama - Our CEO, Rabbi Steven Wernick, joined a list of more than 20 other heads of major U.S. religious group in signing a letter thanking President Obama and the Health and Human Services department in affirming that contraceptive services must be covered by most insurance policies without deductibles or co-pays, and that only purely sectarian organizations are exempt from this requirement.
Koach Kallah – It's not too late to register for the Koach Kallah, set for February 23-26 at Boston University. And it's not unaffordable! Thanks to a generous grant from Women's League for Conservative Judaism, registration is only $100, and a travel equity fund will help offset travel costs over $200. If you or your favorite college student needs more of a push, look at this.
Learn with the Conservative Yeshiva - Two scholars from our Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center's Conservative Yeshiva plan to teach and visit here in the next few months. From March 16 to March 25 Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein will teach in the Washington, DC, area, and Rabbi Shmuel Lewis will do the same in metropolitan New York. In early June, Shoshana Cohen will teach in New Jersey and Philadelphia. Local KRMs have details, so email Jo-Ann Tucker-Zemlak for information about Rabbi Silverstein's visit, Nadine Kochavi for details about Rabbi Lewis's trip, and Michelle Rich to learn about Ms. Cohen's.
New Directors Institute - Our education department offers the New Directors Institute, a three-day institute and yearlong coaching program for new educational directors, from June 19 to June 21 at the Pearlstone Retreat and Conference Center. For $500, brand new or sort-of-new directors can gain a toolbox of useful strategies and a network full or other professionals. For more information or to register, email educational consultant Susan Wyner.
What We've Been Doing for You
Scholar-in-Resident Program in California - Rabbi Gail Diamond, associate director of the Conservative Yeshiva at United Synagogue's Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center, was scholar-in-residence in our Northern Pacific region in late January. Here, more than 40 people crammed into the living room of Rabbi Daniel Pressman's house in Saratoga, California, to learn with her.
Honoring Merrill Alpert - Merrill Alpert, Pacific Southwest's director of informal education and youth activity for Far West USY, was honored with the Or Zarua award from the Jewish Educators Assembly for her lifetime of service to the Jewish community. At the same time, 20 emerging leaders in their 20s were honored with the JEA's 20/20 award; 11 of them were alumni of Far West USY.
Abayudaya Youth Association - The Abayudaya Youth Association of Uganda, a chapter of Far West USY, held its annual convention in January. The group is underwritten in part by United Synagogue's Pacific Southwest region, and as in other years some members of Far West went to Uganda for the convention and helped with leadership training and programming skills.
Meeting of Presidents - In December, our international president, Richard Skolnik, and the president of the Rabbinical Association, Rabbi Gilah Dror, went to a holiday party at the White House. Here, they are flanked by Michelle and President Barack Obama.
Summer 2012 – It's Closer Than You Think - If your teenager wants to join us in one of our life-altering summer programs - you can go to the glaciers in Alaska or to sun-soaked Israel, to the depths of the Grand Canyon or the heights of Masada - please register now. Don't be closed out!
Nativ Opens a New Track - Nativ, USY's gap-year leadership program in Israel, now offers a track in Kfar Hassidim Youth Village. You can get regular updates about Nativ 31's year in Israel on Twitter by following @nativisrael. Nativ is accepting applications for the 2012-2013 school year.
Heschel Honor Society Kinnus - Members of USY's Heschel Honor Society are invited to a weekend of spirited tefillah, thought-provoking Jewish study, social action, and ruach from March 9 to 11 at Tifereth Israel CongregatIon in Washington, DC for the Heschel Honor Society Kinnus.
A Taste of Nativ - Koach, for college students, invites Nativ alumi to bring a taste of that Israel-based gap-year program to their campuses. Thanks to United Synagogue's Israel Commission and Rabbi Paul Freedman, two $250 grants are available for a student-run, Nativ-style oneg Shabbat or seudah shlishit. Email Koach with proposals or questions.
Koach On The Road - This semester, Koach, for college students, offers a weekly class at Boston University on Strange Stories in the Mishah, works with Hillels of New York to build a presence at Pace University; vists Nativ in Israel, Yale, Queens College, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, and other schools, and presents an area-wide workshop on making Jewish college courses at Congregation Beth El in Vorhees, New Jersey. For a little more Koach, wherever you happen to be, email Koach's director, Rabbi Elyse Winick.
From the Conservative Yeshiva
Volunteer in Israel This Summer - The Conservative Yeshiva's Volunteer and Study summer program gives you the chance to learn with a diverse group of students and meet Israelis by volunteering with an Israeli nonprofit. Come to Israel for a summer to live your Jewish values!
United Synagogue's Kallah 2011
United Synagogue's biennial convention, transformed into a kallah centering around Shabbat, met in La Jolla, California, from December 1 through December 4.
We have wonderful vendors, and we would like to thank them. Here's a list. We hope that synagogue leaders will consider this list as they shop for goods or services.
Jewish National Fund - More than 80 kehillot have signed up for the partnership between United Synagogue and the Jewish National Fund that gives each kehilla a 20 percent rebate when its members buy products, including trees planted in Israel, through a special link on JNF's website.
Send Us Your Names - Many of our kehillot have changed administrations in the last few months, or are about to do so. If you have a new Israel Affairs chair, please send Rabbi Paul Freedman his or her name and email address, along with the name of your kehilla, its city and state or province, and the name of the recently retired chair.
From Our Book and Media Center
Are You Ready for Adar? - Purim begins on the evening of March 7, and do we have a megillah for you! The offerings in our Book and Media Center range from JT Waldman's graphic version of Megillat Esther to the JPS Bible Commentary – Esther to the more traditional Book of Esther.
Around the Jewish World
Centennial in Kentucky - Ohavay Zion Synagogue in Lexington, Kentucky, is celebrating its first hundred years. It's planning a party the weekend of April 27-29, and welcomes all former members, as well as anyone interested in its rich history. For more information, write to Sue Ezrine and you'll be added to the mailing list.
Around the Jewish World
Human Rights Campaign/Jewish Organization Equality Index - The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the nonprofit educational division of the United States' biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organization, is working with Jewish philanthropists and nonprofits on the Jewish Organization Equality Index. Conservative movement institutions are urged to complete a survey and be included in this groundbreaking effort. To join this survey, a kehilla representative should fill out this form; within three days the HRC Foundation will send login information for the next step.
Take advantage of free Internet hosting services to affiliated synagogues, USY chapters, and afternoon/day schools. We now also can provide your synagogue with a free template CMS website.
Two Minute Torah