The Impact of Community Organizing Training

Clergy 2.0On Monday and Tuesday, October 28-29, 2013, over 40 colleagues took advantage of an opportunity to receive training in community organizing from experts in the field. The conference was co-sponsored by the RA and JOIN for Justice.

Read divrei Torah inspired by the conference: David Baum | Michael Pont

Reactions to the conference follow below.

Benjamin Adler had a great time:

What a great conference this week. It took years to plan, and many conference calls, but all the work was worth it. So glad to be a part of training more Conservative rabbis in community organizing (and catching up with old friends).

As did David Baum:

I returned late Tuesday night from a conference that many of us have been dreaming about for years, Clergy 2.0: Leading Through Relationship. We had close to 50 Conservative Rabbis who came together to learn how the methods of community organizing can be used to transform your synagogue or organization. So much Torah was shared, so many relationships built, and we know it's just the beginning. I wanted to share one quote from a house meeting I ran from one of the new participating rabbis: "My congregants think that my job is to inspire them, but they don't realize something: they inspire me." Our relationship goes both ways - they aren't our clients, and we aren't just their 'employees', rather it's a holy relationship. Thank you to the Rabbinical Assembly, especially our executive vice president, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, JOIN for Justice, and many more. I return inspired and hopeful for our movement and our people's future. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Susan Grossman was inspired:

Just returned from an inspiring conference on transforming communities through relationship building. The part I liked best was sharing my story and listening to others' stories about where we come from, how we come to be here, what we care deeply about, and why.

Randy Konigsburg utilized what he learned at the conference in his own community:

Yesterday I used the group meeting formulas that I learned at the JOIN conference at a parlor meeting that was held as a "meet the new rabbi" but I turned it into a meeting where everyone affirmed their committment to the synagogue by telling a story of a significant Jewish moment in their life or how they came to join our congregation. It was quite moving and already, there are people talking about how wonderful the meeting was and others who have scheduled meet and greet sessions are already eager to have them in their homes.

Thank you for the training to make this happen for my community.

David Small was also excited to take home the training he experienced:

This week I had an exciting and useful experience at JTS participating in a training in Synagogue-based Community Organizing. I have imagined for years that this approach that stresses relationship, sharing stories and joining energies to act around our deeply held values can help build strong and dynamic synagogue life. The move from transactional to covenantal community is of especial importance to me. I appreciate that the RA provided this opportunity to get started learning in earnest. It was heartening to have a ground-breaking event like this take place at the Seminary. This reflects well on the Movement at a time of great challenge.

I appreciate that JOIN is earnestly interested in and understands rabbis and synagogues and seeks to share this "derekh" with us. Up until now, I felt frustrated by the difficulty of accessing this kind of training in my home community of Hartford CT, not in NYC or Boston or LA. Now I can help bring these ideas and practices home and am confident I will have support including mentors and friends who are just learning, as I am. This training may prove to be an important step in revitalizing my own practice and the congregation I serve.

The thing that moved me the most was the spirit of colleagues at the training, both rabbis and JOIN staff. There were "vatikim" represented in the group that was there, but the preponderance of rabbis and trainers were young. Their excellence, focus, commitment and belief in the importance of our work gives me great hope for the future.

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