I was quite shocked to receive the letter from the CoM advising of the formation of a new Shul Committee for the Yeshivah Shul. I was aware of some of the things that were happening in the background in recent months, and was even one of the people who took part in what might be very loosely called a “focus group”, referred to in the letter. Considering how long the CoM have had to consider this, and how many aborted attempts there have been, the whole things looks quite lame to me. You call this governance?
Based on the ownership structures currently in place, neither people who daven in the shul on a regular basis nor seatholders have any rights whatsoever. However, any moral (or halachic) rights we may have, or any moral (or halachic) obligation the CoM might have for transparency and accountability is clearly held with scant regard by those in power.
They claim to “encourage greater community participation” but it always has been and has to be on their terms. Members (and I use the term loosely – the term has no legal sense and is only tolui in hergesh) have been screaming for more participation for many years, yet time and again have given up after banging their heads against the wall that is the CoM. Now, they expect everyone to come running? Has anything really changed?
And what of “succession planning”? What is the average tenure of a CoM member? What process was used in the past to appoint new members? If they ever did accept fresh blood into the committee, they would be more like fresh meat to sharks in terms of their position on the committee relative to all the others. I have had the experience of being on the board of a large Jewish not-for-profit where several members had been there for over twenty years. Fortunately in that case, those people were kindly asked to move on, and a managed process of succession was put in place – a regular flow of new people and ideas in. Are they suggesting a staged retirement for existing members to make room for new ones? I doubt it.
The CoM expect us to believe that volunteering in their new committees will “create and foster a new generation of lay leadership”. Newsflash: two generations of talented lay leadership have already been sufficiently disenfranchised to either give up or just find other organizations who value them and where they can make a contribution.
They claim that service on these committees “is a pathway for people with appropriate skills … to be appointed to the CoM”. What skills do the existing members have? Are they prepared to even articulate the sort of skills they are seeking and an open process of selection? No – all power to the existing CoM, now and forever.
What irks me most is the self-righteous tone of the communication. Bandying around buzz words like “succession planning”, “reform” & “spirit of goodwill” just ring hollow to most members. They even chose not to use the “e-word” (election) anywhere in the entire document. And all of this hides behind the official party line of doing this for the betterment of our Moisdos. What have they done to make our Moised better in the last twenty years? Would anyone say it is better?
To summarize, it almost sounds like the Khartoum Resolution that followed the Six Day War:
- No membership
- No collaboration
- No respect