Here are the requirements for a very significant job in the Jewish community: strong business and operational experience; extensive background in budgeting, building management, fundraising and multi-tasking; thorough knowledge of the synagogue service for weekdays, Shabbat, the Festivals and the High Holy Days. Willing to work 24/6 plus Shabbat and to have a constituency of synagogue lay leaders, clergy, and membership/congregation.
It’s not easy – that’s on a good day. Things get even tougher when there’s a crisis.
The above description is for the synagogue Executive Director, long a job in which its talented personnel have labored in the background, known only to synagogue leadership and the occasional congregant. From Sunday, November 4 – Tuesday, November 6 Executive Directors from all around North America will gather in New York for the Orthodox Union’s Fifth Annual Conference, with the theme this year of “Congregant Service: Managing the Member Experience.” The Executive Director’s Conference is a program of the Orthodox Union Karasick Department of Synagogue Services | Congregation Support Network.
The conference will meet at three of New York’s most fabled Orthodox synagogues, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, The Jewish Center, and Shearith Israel (The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue).
At the same time the Executive Directors are meeting, OU synagogue Presidents and Board Members will gather for a retreat on Sunday afternoon, November 4 at The Jewish Center, focusing on fundraising and board development. “This is the first time we are bringing these two groups together, as part of our efforts to build a strong professional and volunteer relationship,” said Rabbi Judah Isaacs, Director of the OU Department of Community Engagement.
Since the first OU Executive Director’s conference was held five years ago, there has been “an increased amount of sharing best practices among shuls, which ultimately strengthens the professionalism of the Executive Directors and it makes the operation run more efficiently,” said Yehuda Friedman. Conference Coordinator and Associate Director of the Karasick Department of Synagogue Services. “This strengthened professionalism leads to a smoother running synagogue, and thereby increased prestige for the Executive Director.”
Besides the New York area, participants this year will come from Massachusetts, Washington, DC, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Virginia and California as well as from Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.
OU | Enhancing Jewish Life