President – Summer 2016


I don’t know about you, but I’m both elated and exhausted. Elated by the vast array of programs we have going and the general feeling of optimism I see in our congregants when we discuss our shul’s future. Elated by the increased participation of our congregants in the programs we are running and the guests we are attracting from the community and beyond. Elated and optimistic by my firm belief that our membership numbers will be growing, albeit incrementally, but growing nonetheless.

But, I’m also exhausted, as I’m certain many of you are. Exhausted by Rabbi Elkodsi’s “boot camp” of change and her efforts to turn around our previously downward trajectory as a congregation to one which more associated with growth, both in terms of numbers and member participation. And I’m sure we’ll all agree that this is a good kind of exhaustion, similar to getting through a lengthy workout at the gym. Yes, there’s a lot going on in our shul, but while it may at times feel a bit overwhelming, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered to cure the extreme shul decline syndrome we were experiencing for so long.

Along with the turn-around we are experiencing, comes the necessity to get more introspective about our future by making certain we know what we want to be when we grow up and having a deliberate, disciplined plan in place to get there. We need to formally define who we are and what we should be as a congregation.

We should have a Vision of what we want the Malverne Jewish Center to look like in the longer-term. That Vision needs to be consistent with and supported by what we see as our Mission, or purpose, as a shul. Is our purpose to be just a place in which to daven on Shabbat and yom tovs or do we do we see ourselves playing a larger role in the community-at-large, or more specifically, in the Jewish community? The purpose of defining our Mission is designed to answer this question. And finally, what are the beliefs and behaviors that will govern us and allow us to achieve our mission? What are our Values?

For most of us, these concepts may appear to be new and by now you’re asking yourself: “What is Feldman talking about?” But when you think about it, these are approaches we employ all the time in our daily life.

We all have a “vision” of being the best parent or grandparent out there and to achieve that vision, or longer-term goal, we have a “mission” to make certain that our children’s (or grandchildren’s) material and spiritual needs are met; that they receive a good education and religious upbringing. We also want to instill in them proper beliefs and behaviors, or “values,” which will guide the way they live their lives. Now I know that we don’t sit down and deliberately formalize and document this vision, mission and set of values, but we go through this process less formally nonetheless as part of our role as parents and grandparents. While, as we see when we apply these concepts to our daily life, albeit less formally, we begin to see that it’s not as foreign or esoteric as first thought (and that Feldman is not off his rocker).

But for the Malverne Jewish Center, we need something more formal. We need to be more deliberate and more participatory in defining our shul’s Vision for the future, in making certain our congregation’s Mission (after we define it) is consistent with the achievement of that longer-term goal and assuring that our Values reflect our beliefs and govern our behaviors as we strive to achieve our Mission. We need to go through a process of defining these concepts as they apply to the Malverne Jewish Center and to develop a plan, or roadmap, to direct us. Finally, we need to agree on a means by which to measure whether we have in fact achieved what we laid out for ourselves.

To accomplish this, we will soon begin a project using a multi-staged approach to identify who we are, what we want to be, how we will get there and when we will know we’ve arrived. We will start with small groups to define the process we will be using, then proceed with larger focus groups to identify what our Vision, Mission and Values should be, and finally, we will present the results and recommendations to the entire congregation for its input for final adoption of our plan for the future.

There is no question that all of us will be playing a role in this process. There is also no question that at this juncture of our life as a congregation, with both the uncertainties and excitement we are experiencing, we need to formally identify the direction we want to take in the future and frankly, what we want our future to look like. Now is the time to do this and to be successful, we need the participation of the entire congregation.

So, I look forward to working with you on this very important endeavor. You’ll be hearing more about the program as we begin to roll it out, but for now you’ll have to excuse me because I’ve been busy for too long it’s time for a rest.

Dave Feldman, President