Leadership Connections #23: September 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




Relational Congregations: Strengthening Connections in Changing Times


Register for Sunday, October 17 at 10 AM ET
Register for Tuesday, October 26 at 8 PM ET
Register for Thursday, November 4 at 1 PM ET



Are you looking to build and strengthen relationships within your community as we begin to come back together? Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal will be featured in this webinar. Learn about creating personal encounters, reimagining volunteerism and building on your virtual successes. Hear from leaders who are doing great relational work and gain tools and resources to bring back to your synagogue. Open to all synagogue staff, lay leaders, and clergy. Register for a specific time above.

Additional New Normal Content:

  • Kehillat Beth Israel Congregation High Holiday Video
    A very special, inclusive, community virtual music video project, including Kehillat Beth Israel’s Cantor Jason Green, adult and youth congregants, families, the synagogue choirs, the Tamir Neshama Choir, and their Rabbis, singing their favorite High Holy Days songs together, in harmony. Kehillat Beth Israel is located in Ottawa, Ontario. View their video here.

Leadership Content

Thought leadership, event information, and news for synagogue leaders

Featured Article:

Hadar Devash Workshop

Tuesday, October 12 at 1pm ET

USCJ and the RA are excited to partner with Hadar to offer a workshop sharing an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at the making of Devash magazine, Hadar’s new parashah magazine for children and families. Participants will learn about the production process, gain a better understanding of the goals of each section of the magazine (including midrash, commentary, trope, Hebrew etc.), and get valuable suggestions on how to use the different parts of the magazine in synagogues, religious schools, and day schools. The workshop will provide the opportunity to connect with fellow clergy and educators as we strategize this year’s parashah learning. Register and learn more here.

Additional Leadership Content:

  • Ma’alot: Synagogue Grants for Israel Programming
    Jewish National Fund and Nefesh B’Nefesh are excited to continue the Ma’alot Grant Program to help synagogues with Israel programming. It is our hope that this program will strengthen the connections between synagogues, Jewish National Fund and Nefesh B’ Nefesh, while assisting individuals in your community to connect with resources that can strengthen their relationship with Israel. Learn more and apply here.
  • Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest Documentaries
    Watch history come to life. The Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest has created 4 documentaries about Jewish life on the Iron Range and in the Twin Cities, disaster relief efforts, and summer camp experiences. One of them, titled “It Happened Right Here – The Dakotas”, includes an interview with Bea Premack the president of the USCJ affiliated synagogue, Congregation B’nai Isaac in Aberdeen, South Dakota. View them all here.
  • USCJ And ADL Form Partnership To Combat Antisemitism
    USCJ and ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) have agreed to form a partnership aimed at combating the alarming rise in antisemitic rhetoric and violence through education and advocacy. Read more here.
  • USCJ-Keshet Leadership Project
    Imagine that every person who walks into your synagogue feels valued for their whole self – including their gender and sexuality.

    If you’re ready to put your community’s inclusive values into action, join this year’s USCJ-Keshet Leadership Project. This year-long, cohort-based program equips synagogues with the skills and knowledge to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, create spaces in which LGBTQ Jews feel valued, and take action for LGBTQ rights.    The  year-long program includes:

    • Self-assessment: how is your organization doing at LGBTQ equity and belonging?
    • A day-long in-depth learning summit
    • Personalized coaching by experienced Keshet educators
    • Top-quality, comprehensive resources and guides
    • A supportive peer cohort of Jewish leaders working in their synagogues
    • An individual action plan for your congregation
    • Learning about the particulars of LGBTQ belonging in Conservative congregations.

    USCJ is proud to partner with Keshet to offer this program free of charge to participating synagogues. The USCJ-Keshet Leadership Project will take place in two online sessions on Wednesday, November 10th from 2:00-5:30pm ET and Wednesday, December 1st from 2:00-5:30pm ET. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis at bit.ly/keshetlp.  On the application, where it asks which cohort you are applying to, please be sure to select USCJ-KeshetLeadership Project. In order to be accepted to the cohort, congregations must be members in good standing of USCJ. For any questions about the Keshet Leadership Project, you can contact the Education & Training team by emailing Rabbi Micah Buck-Yael at [email protected]. Apply here.

  • Don’t Kvetch, Organize!
    The JTS Hendel Center for Ethics and Justice, the RA, USCJ, and JOIN for Justice invite you to join a cohort of 30 Conservative movement lay leaders and clergy, in examining ways community organizing can be used to strengthen our communities, and create a more just world. The six-week course will run from October 5 – November 18. Learn more here and view the flyer here.

Special Events

Upcoming events from USCJ and our partners

  • Sukkah Village 2021
    September 19 – 30, 2021
    Conceived by Joshua Zinder, managing partner of local architecture firm JZA+D and current president of AIA-New Jersey, and developed in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks. Join us to tour 11 Sukkahs, a traditional Judaic shelter, on public sites around Downtown Princeton designed by high-profile architecture and design firms and NJIT competition winners.

    Special programming throughout the 10-day event will include: panel discussions, walking tours, a film screening, and family-friendly arts & crafts!
    The event will promote the impact of design in addressing key social issues impacting New Jersey and the nation as a whole, such as homelessness, food insecurity, sustainability, and the struggles of refugees worldwide. Bid on the auction, donate, and learn more here.

  • ScholarStream 5782
    Wednesday, October 6th
    Following a successful launch of our ScholarStream program in 5781, we are excited to announce the full year of ScholarStream learning in 5782Beginning on October 6 and spanning all the way up to Shavuot, the Conservative Movement seminaries and institutions are partnering to offer eight series that will bring your community face-to-face with the brightest and most engaging scholars our movement has to offer. Become a sponsor and learn more here.
  • Race-Consciousness Training Series
    Wednesdays, October 20- November 10 8PM ET
    Join Heather Miller, President of Flatbush and Shaare Torah Jewish Center and Eitan Dantzig, Board Member and Co-Facilitator of FJC’s anti-racism work, for a 4-part series on race consciousness for Conservative synagogue communities. Heath and Eitan are creators of The Multitudes, workshops designed to lead to the creation of safe and embracing spaces for Jews of Color. Series is open to clergy, professional staff, and lay-leaders. Learn more and register here.
  • Hanukkah Homecoming: Save the Date!
    December 3-5, 2021

    A growing coalition of 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 free, flexible, and fun. The platform will be provided; you organize the gathering. Learn more at hanukkahhomecoming.org.

One Question Survey

This edition’s featured question:


Do you want to order USCJ’s 5782 Calendar? They are out and ready to ship 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.