I had the privilege of attending the annual URJ Scheidt Seminar this April in Atlanta. This was an opportunity to network with and learn from 80 of my fellow Reform congregational presidents and presidentselect from throughout North America.
We worked on leadership skills and learned about Torah-based governance. We found that we face many of the same problems at our congregations, particularity those of a similar size.
We learned and prayed with the inspiring leaders of our movement, including URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion President Rabbi Aaron Panken, along with staff from URJ and faculty from HUC-JIR. We met people from URJ who can provide many resources to assist our congregations.
I came away from the Seminar with many ideas and inspirations. Among the most important was that of sacred partnership, defined as a commitment to building and nurturing relationships that elevate the work of leadership to a level of holiness.
Sacred partnerships recognize each of us as individuals and our desire to inspire sacred action in our communities. Sacred partnerships are built and nurtured through the Jewish values of mutual respect, trust, honesty, listening and communication, transparency, confidentiality, flexibility, and reflection.
None of us has all the answers. But together, in sacred partnership, we can work to find them. From Ecclesiastes Zuta, “Two people are better than one. Two who toil in Torah are better than each working alone.”
In the words of Pirkei Avot, “When two people sit together and there are words of Torah between them, the Shechina (Divine Presence) dwells among them.”