Leadership Connections #42: April 3, 2023

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

Leadership Content

News, thought leadership articles, and past event information

Featured Article:

USCJ’s Passover Cookbook

It’s almost Pesach! Last year we collected recipes from all of you (thank you for contributing). This year we are sharing the recipe book again to help each of you prepare for your Seders and the week that follows. Have a look, and be sure to let us know your favorite recipes on USCJ’s social pages. Happy cooking!

Additional Leadership Content:

This virtual conference will explain why inclusion is sacred work for our movement. After a keynote address by USCJ and Rabbinical Assembly CEO, Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, three panelists from our congregations will share their journeys and approaches to interfaith inclusion. Together with USCJ Interfaith Specialist, Dr. Keren McGinity, we will discuss how congregations can reach our potential by embracing diverse Jewish families. Participants will emerge from this 2-hour webinar with ideas for next steps to bring to their own community. It will be offered twice. Sign up for either the daytime or evening session.

  • Have You Visited the USCJ Digital Marketplace?
    We are continuing to grow our USCJ Digital Marketplace. We’ve added several new vendors this month and are well on our way to becoming the one stop shop to find vendors connected to synagogue life. Visit the site to see for yourself.

    In order to be listed vendors must pay a subscription fee. The vendors are not recommended by USCJ. Before purchasing goods, products or services from any vendor, it is important that each congregation or affiliate conduct its own due diligence, compare pricing, consult with its own professionals and consultants, and decide for itself whether dealing with the vendor is in the best interests of the congregation. Please read our Terms and Conditions here.

  • Featured USCJ Digital Marketplace Vendor: Dr. Daniel Matt
    Dr. Daniel Matt is a scholar of Kabbalah. He has been featured in Time and Newsweek and on NPR. His books include The Essential Kabbalah (translated into eight languages), God and the Big BangBecoming Elijah, and his nine-volume annotated translation, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, which has been hailed as “a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought.” Visit the USCJ Digital Marketplace to learn more and find other scholars in residence.
  • Featured USCJ Digital Marketplace Vendor: R. Jeffrey Tax Credits — Reduce ERC confusion stemming from uninvited solicitation for Employee Retention Credits. See why the URJ Marketplace asked R. Jeffrey Tax Credits to be its ERC vendor, and why they were the 2022 NATA lead sponsor. Visit them on the USCJ Digital Marketplace and learn more here.
  • Exploring Judaism: Passover Resources and More — ExploringJudaism’s Passover and Omer-related articles offer share-worthy content through a Conservative Jewish lens that you can send to your community. Sign up for email updates featuring new, timely content here, and encourage others to do the same.
  • USY Summer Programs — Spaces are filling up quickly on our summer programs. Be sure your teens are able to grab their spot before the trips close. Scholarships are available. Learn more at usy.org/summer.
  • Nativ 2023-24 — Next Year in Jerusalem! Spend a year developing your leadership skills while living like a local in Israeli society with a cohort of peers. Apply to Nativ today!
  • Communicating During Crisis: Strategies to Ensure Coordination and Resiliency
    The Secure Community Network (SCN) hosted a webinar discussion on best practices in crisis communications planning, preparedness, and incident response.

    The webinar included presentations by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Matthew Berger of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, and a panel of representatives from SCN and the Jewish Federations in Houston, Northeast Florida, and Pittsburgh. View recording here.

Special Events

Upcoming events from USCJ and our partners

  • Sale of Hameitz 5783
    Deadline Tomorrow: 
    Tuesday, April 4, 2023 12PM ET
    Since ownership of hameitz (bread and other leavened products) is not allowed during Pesach, ideally all hameitz in one’s possession would be given away or destroyed before the holiday begins. Since this often represents a financial hardship, the practice arose for people to store away their hameitz before Pesach and arrange to sell it for the duration of the holiday. By filling out the form linked below, you are appointing Rabbi Schwartz to arrange the sale on your behalf through the RA. Many synagogues also offer this service. Check with your congregational Rabbi if you’d prefer to do this through your own community.
  • Rabbinical Assembly’s Pre-Pesach Siyyum Bekhorot
    Wednesday, April 5th
    On the East Coast it begins at 6:45am ET with Shaharit. The Siyyum begins around 7:30 AM ET.
    Our East Coast Fast of the Firstborn concludes with a pre-Pesach Siyyum of Masekhet Bavli Sotah, led by Rabbi Mordecai Schwartz. All are welcome to join the RA for this all-levels celebration of learning.

    On the West Coast it begins at 7:30 AM PT. Minyan with Siyyum beginning at approximately 8:15 AM PT. Our West Coast Fast of the Firstborn concludes with a pre-Pesach Siyyum of Mishnah Mikvaot, led by Rabbi Adam Kligfeld. All are welcome to join for this all-levels celebration of learning.

  • Protecting The Environment For Ourselves And Future Generations
    Monday, April 10, 2023
    USCJ and Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex (NJ) have joined the new Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition, and you are invited to learn more about this on a Zoom program on Monday, April 10, at 8 p.m. Register and be inspired by Jakir Manela, visionary founder of this new North American Jewish Leadership Coalition to learn how we now will be able to confront the moral urgency of the climate crisis, jointly committing to climate action. View flyer here.
  • The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs Yellow Candle
    Monday, April 17, 2023
    42 years ago, FJMC leaders created the Yellow Candle as a living symbol for home observance of Yom HaShoah Day. Light the Yellow Candle, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Monday Night, April 17, 2023. Learn more here.
  • ScholarStream Series #7
    Starting: Wednesday, April 19, 2023
    The Conservative Movement seminaries and institutions are partnering to offer regular learning series that will bring your community face-to-face with the brightest and most engaging scholars our movement has to offer.

    Our series on Counting the Days & Making Every Day Count will begin on Wednesday, April 19th at 8:00 PM ET. Please register to make sure you receive the Zoom link for Session 7. Sign up below and find more information on the session here.

  • Sulam for Officers
    Sunday-Monday, April 23-24, 2023
    Join us for four hours each day April 23-24th for Sulam for Officers on Zoom. This leadership development program will include sessions on identifying your leadership style, creating a leadership vision, the roles of the board and the executive committee, financial sustainability, and more. We will also be adding some new sessions this year, including a session on building more diverse and inclusive communities and a session on conflict management. Register here.
  • Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities:
    RACI a Model for Organizational Effectiveness
    Tuesday, May 16, 2023
    Daytime Webinar at 2PM ET or
    Evening Webinar at 8PM ET
    One of the biggest issues that generates conflict in synagogues is the lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities for professional and lay leadership. Join us for an introduction to the RACI model for organizational effectiveness. RACI is an acronym that stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. The workshop will be facilitated by Daniel Langenthal. Daniel will first explain the model and then practice using the model with the group. This will be followed by the chance for participants to meet in small groups and work through challenges they have using the model. It will be offered twice. Sign up for either the daytime or evening session.
  • Strengthen the Professional-Lay leadership Relationship
    During the month of June. Limited to the first 20 congregations that register.
    USCJ invites synagogue professionals and lay leadership to register for a two hour consultation on developing the lay and senior professional leadership relationship. These individualized workshops will take place in the month of June and will be facilitated by Daniel Langenthal. The consultation sessions are designed to help build new relationships and strengthen those that already exist. Register here.
  • Rav Ha Makhshir
    Sunday – Thursday, June 11-15, 2023
    Teaneck New Jersey
    This 5-day in-person course for clergy only (except with prior permission) will provide text study and exploration of the theoretical constructs of kashrut, as well as on-site field trips. Participants will learn how to supervise synagogue kitchens, communal events, bakeries and various kinds of restaurants. Click link below to register and learn more.

    Registration Deadline Today: April 3 
    Register here.

  • New Directors’ Institute 2023
    July 12,13,17 and 18
    This virtual professional development conference is for Education Directors who are new in their roles or have been hired within the past 2 years.

    Register below for learning with leading Jewish educators, become a member of a learning community, meet colleagues who can help support you, and develop practical skills to succeed.

    More information to follow.

    Questions? Please contact Miriam Abrams-Stark, USCJ Synagogue Consultant [email protected]. Register here.

  • Ma’alot Grant Program 2023-2024
    JNF/NBN has opened the 2023-2024 Ma’alot Grant Program, for Israel-focused programming taking place from 7/1/2023-6/30/2024. Updated guidelines can be found on the new application form linked here. Synagogues are highly encouraged to apply! Find the key points and additional guidance included in the application form. Read the application request letter here.
  • Brit Kodesh: Brit Milah Training for Healthcare Professionals
    Sunday-Thursday, November 12-16, 2023
    Los Angeles, CA
    The Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly announces that the next Brit Kodesh training for Conservative/Masorti mohalim/mohalot will be offered in Los Angeles from Sunday, November 12th through Thursday, November 16, 2023!

    We are currently accepting applications from prospective participants. We only accept applications from practicing physicians and healthcare professionals who have extensive training and experience performing circumcisions. All applications must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from the referring rabbi, who is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly.

    Participants must commit to the entire in-person conference in Los Angeles beginning Sunday, November 12, 2023 at 2:00 PM PT through Thursday, November 16, 2023 at 4:00 PM PT. Register here.

    Please reach out to Rabbi Ilana Garber at [email protected] with questions.

This Week’s Synagogue Spotlight

Congregation Beth Sholom
San Francisco, CA

Congregation Beth Sholom has commissioned a new scroll for Megilat Esther which has come to represent the values of their community.  First, it was written by a soferet, a female scribe, Julie Seltzer. But the most notable difference in their Megillah is that there are vowels and cantillation marks written directly into the scroll to guide the reader in the correct pronunciation and chant.

Put simply, this Megillah is a living metaphor for what their community is striving to achieve — joy, inclusiveness, accessibility, tradition and surprise. What better time to bring that message to life than on the most joyful holiday of the year.

Read more about this joy filled community and their new Megillah here.

Synagogue Spotlight

Share your stories, programs, and events:


Each month we will feature one program, story, or event from one of our synagogues. This is an opportunity to highlight you and the amazing work you are doing. We want to maximize the power of our network, and give you the space to share your ideas, learn from each other, and be inspired. We hope you will participate by sharing a success. Please check back in this space next month for our next spotlight.

USCJ affiliated synagogues can submit information via this easy-to-use Google form, and email Rivka at [email protected] if you have any further questions. Share here.

Survey Results


Last month we asked:

Is your synagogue holding a Purim carnival this year?

The majority of you said yes. It’s great to know that some things are returning “back to normal”! If you’re already planning for next year and you’d like more Purim resources please visit ExploringJudaism, our digital home for Conservative Judaism.

Thanks for responding!

One Question Survey

This edition’s featured question:


As the network of Conservative congregations across North America, we’ve designed these one-question polls to help you share information with one another. Each month’s question comes from inquiries that USCJ receives from synagogue leaders.This edition’s featured question:

How is your synagogue celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s founding day)?

Answer here

We’re Hiring!

Come join our team! We’re hiring the following positions.

  • Director of Marketing and Communications
  • Senior Director of Synagogue Leadership
  • Mid-Atlantic District Synagogue Consultant
  • CHUSY City and Engagement Director
  • USY Engagement Director – Seattle
  • Administrative Assistant – TED/USY
  • Denver USY Engagement Director

Click the link here to view all of our open positions. Please share with anyone you think would be interested.


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.