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Journey: Building a Vibrant Future Together

This is an important moment in the life of our community. Together, over the last year, we have worked to discover a vision for Beth El that captures the legacy and values that have provided a strong foundation for our synagogue while exploring ways to co-create a vibrant and sustainable future amidst the instability most American Jewish institutions face. With optimism, open minds and open hearts, we invite you to join us on this journey.

The “Why?”

We are an outstanding synagogue- a family. And yet, these are times where loyalty to institutions is greatly diminished and the ways Jews self-identify and make meaning of their Judaism are changing rapidly. People worship differently. People marry differently. To ensure our own future, it is vital that we examine the most fundamental questions about how we can adapt and thrive amidst this shifting landscape.

Some of the questions inspired this project:

Judaism. How can we ensure that all that we do will be infused with a love and respect of Torah, Jewish values and connection to Israel?

Crossroads. What is the nature of world in which we find ourselves? What is the nature of the crossroads we face as a community?

Next Chapter. How can we secure our future for the next generation? What are the implications of growth? Do we aim to grow in numbers (quantity) or attend mainly to sustaining our close community and attending to the “thickness” of our Jewish lives and relationships (quality)? Do we always want to be known as a Conservative synagogue community or some other marker?

BESC as Jewish Hub. How can we develop our synagogue community into a vibrant hub of Jewish life for most Jewish families in Westchester?

Inclusion (and other Global Trends). What does the trend toward intermarriage mean for Beth El? Is there an opportunity within what may appear to be a crisis? How are we being called to be even more inclusive of multi-faith families, LGBTQ members, people of all abilities, people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds?

Relevance. How can we ensure that we are relevant for all Jews who want to make their home with us? What success factors/indicators should guide us? If not membership, then what?

Role in the Ecosystem. What does it mean to be a Conservative synagogue community in these times? What is Beth El’s place in the larger ecosystem of Westchester County? New York City? US?

Business Models. What business models will sustain us? How do we shift our thinking around membership, fundraising, facilities?

We are proud of and excited about the high-engagement and innovative approach that we are taking into this journey.

Thanks to a generous contribution from Hazzan Ellen and Graham Arad in memory of their parents Phyllis & Menachem Arad and Lucille & Reuven Miller, Zichronam Livarcha, we had the opportunity to engage consultants from Insyte Partners. Insyte specializes in guiding organizations and communities around complex questions when the past is no longer a predictor of the future—but where it’s important to learn from the future rather than only re-enacting patterns of the past. You can read more about Insyte at www.insytepartners.com.

The “How” and the “Who”

Throughout this process our community was offered multiple opportunities to participate in the conversations about the future of our synagogue. Every voice matters. We assembled a strong yet purposely small Planning Team consisting of Beth El professionals and members from diverse fields who worked behind the scenes to keep our work strategically focused and moving forward.

We invited a broad cross-section of our community and beyond to serve on our Vision Team. This group of roughly 50 people represented the range of the Beth El community and were key partners in the work.

The “What’s Next” and the “When”

The Vision Team played a key role in articulating the future direction of Beth El, which will be presented to the board for adoption on December 14th.

Following this, the key principles will get translated into “prototypes”—experiments that move us quickly into action toward our desired future, as well as implementation plans. Everyone will be invited into the prototyping process. Our Board of Directors and professional staff have been involved at key moments at the beginning, middle, and end of the effort.

This is an exciting moment for the future of Beth El. The trends and data of the American Jewish community are clear: synagogues must reimagine themselves if they want to thrive. We are committed to proactively meet our challenges head on and transform them into opportunities to reaffirm our values and chart a clear path for our future. We are confident that are emerging from this Journey as a unified community with a clear path toward a vibrant future.

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Mon, December 17 2018 9 Tevet 5779