Leadership Connections #17: June 17, 2021

Welcome to Leadership Connections, a twice monthly publication for synagogue leaders and clergy from USCJ.

The New Normal

Resources for synagogue leaders in the time of Covid



Visionary Awards 2021

We are pleased to announce the winning ideas and the runner up submissions to our Idea Generator – Visionary Awards.These thoughtful entries exemplified creativity, dedication, and commitment to helping their synagogue communities thrive in our complex, multi-access environment focused on finding solutions in the categories of learning ideasprogramming ideas, and ritual ideas.

We invite you to a series of webinars, where representatives from these congregations will share their experiences and the details of their ideas. These webinars will enable you to learn more about these innovative ideas and to discuss with fellow leaders how they may be adapted for your congregation. We hope you will join us for these vibrant discussions.

  • TODAY! June 17, 1 pm ET – REGISTER NOW 
    Learning Ideas: Hear about a collaboration between three synagogues that came together to create a dynamic new religious school experience. Learn how they developed shared goals, curriculum, and communications, as well as established both in-person and virtual learning programs.
  • June 22, 1 pm ET – REGISTER NOW
    Programming Ideas: Learn from a synagogue that partnered with local organizations to build community around the Shmita (sabbatical) year. Presenters will share the strategies they used to engage volunteers, expand their reach, and implement meaningful programming around Shmita.
  • June 24, 1 pm ET – REGISTER NOW
    Ritual Ideas: The winning congregation will talk about their Music Prayer Lab, a collaborative, spiritually uplifting musical experience in nature. Learn how they worked with their clergy to plan and implement in-person and virtual music and prayer opportunities.

Additional New Normal Content:

  • Save the Date!
    Hanukkah Homecoming – A Great Miracle is Happening Here
    Join together December 3-5, 2021 to celebrate the miracle of coming back together.

    A growing coalition of congregations, JCCs, Federations, Hillels, schools, camps, independent minyanim and Jewish organizations is coming together this Hanukkah for a worldwide rededication of our relational communities post-pandemic. You’re invited to be part of this extraordinary network to “recount the things that befell us” and “turn our mourning into joyful dancing.”

    It’s freeflexible, and fun. We’ll provide the platform; you organize the gathering. Here are the simple steps to join in the Hanukkah Homecoming Weekend:

  1. Put the dates on your program calendar now – December 3-5.
  2. Click here to learn more about the backstory of “homecoming” and to sign up or get more info www.hanukkahhomecoming.org.
  3. During the coming months, decide what gatherings and events to offer during the weekend. We will be crowdsourcing program ideas on our website and Facebook page, so add yours!
  4. Use our free logo and marketing materials to brand and promote your events to the community in the Fall. A map of the world will indicate your participation and link to your website.

There is light at the end of the tunnel…

Leadership Content

Thought leadership, event information, and news for synagogue leaders

Featured Article:


Dedicating a Day to Honor Holocaust Survivors

By Rabbi David Seth Kirshner

I hope you will consider joining me on June 24, 2021, in dedicating one day to the honor of survivors of the Holocaust.

Much of my Jewish life has been shaped by the teachings of Sinai and the memory of Auschwitz. I have followed laws, kept traditions, and remembered the martyrdom of those in Europe who died for their beliefs. Like many, I have lit a candle on Yom Hashoa and participated in International Holocaust Day and spoken about both from my pulpit. One area that we collectively can devote more attention and recognition is towards the courage, heroism, and resilience of Holocaust Survivors in our world. That is a dwindling population that will be no more than a memory for our children’s generation. READ MORE

Additional Leadership Content:

Special Events

Upcoming events from USCJ and our partners

Juneteenth Through The Eyes of Jews of Color:
Sharing Stories and Perspectives

TODAY! Thursday, June 17th at 8PM EST
Panel members share their personal stories about what Juneteenth means to each of them, and consider its relevance for all members of our community. Register here.

Relational Strategies for a Changing WorldTuesday, July 6th at 1PM EST
Join USCJ’s Bob Leventhal, Director of Leadership Development, for a presentation on relational strategies including: creating personal encounters, helping people tell their stories, and reimagining volunteerism. Register here.

One Question Survey

This edition’s featured question:


We would like to plan our future issues with you in mind, please let us know what topics would be most helpful to you?



District synagogue consultants are available to offer guidance on a variety of issues. Find your district and look up your synagogue consultant’s contact information by clicking here.