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METNY Biennial 2010: Special Report

Rave Reviews about the METNY Biennial Convention from synagogue leaders:

“The panel discussion was great. The networking was valuable. And [the] workshop was fantastic, both stimulating and helpful.”
-Dr. Dana Johnston, President, Hollis Hills Jewish Center

“Kol Ha’kavod–Great conference. There was lots of substance. Best METNY program I have attended!”
-Joel Podell, Midway Jewish Center

[+] More

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We are delighted to share with you a full report on the METNY Biennial Convention. There were many special highlights of the convention that you will find below (after the press release) including a informative panel discussion, dynamic workshops, synagogue awards and the installation of the new METNY district council. METNY encourages you to use the press release for your synagogue bulletins and promoting your synagogue achievements at our Biennial.

B’Shalom,

Rabbi Charles Savenor
METNY Executive District Director
Norman Korowitz
METNY District Chair

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METNY USCJ Biennial Convention 2010 Press Release

On Sunday, November 14, 2010, the Metropolitan New York District of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism held its Biennial Convention at the Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle, NY. There was an overwhelming turnout of over 230 attendees from over 50 synagogues from the METNY District.

The theme of the Biennial Convention was “The Charismatic Kehillah” based on the new book The Charismatic Organization by Shirley Sagawa and Deborah Jospin. The conference explored the pillars of charismatic nonprofits, including a clear mission, decisions informed by research, active outreach and meaningful engagement.

“The goal of our conference and all of our efforts is the transformation of our Conservative synagogues,” said Rabbi Charles Savenor, METNY Executive District Director. “We envision our congregations as successful non-profits that provide meaning, attract funders, excite volunteers and frequently generate ‘buzz’ online and by word of mouth.”

Rabbi Savenor’s remarks, “Memories and Dreams,” can be found here.

One of the highlights of the day was an engaging panel discussion about how a synagogue can become a charismatic kehillah (community). Moderated by Rabbi Savenor, the panel featured prominent Jewish thinkers and leaders: Ruth Messinger, Executive Director of American Jewish World Service; Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of The Foundation for Jewish Camp; and Rabbi Alan Silverstein, spiritual leader of Congregation Agudath Israel in West Caldwell, NJ and chair of Masorti Olami. Rabbi Silverstein, whose synagogue is showcased in the new book Sacred Strategies, also served as the conference keynote speaker.

The METNY Biennial committee arranged innovative and informative workshops with topics pertaining to synagogues today. Attendees had nine workshops selections, including a text study session. To extend the learning and training to the entire district, METNY will post summaries and handouts of every session on the METNY website.

Two of the most well attended sessions were “Compelling Communications” and “Data Driven Innovation at the Synagogue-How Anonymous Community Input is Helping Us Get our MoJo Back.”

Susan Cantor, COO of Thinktopia, and Howard Goldberg, Assistant Director of the Northeast District of United Synagoue, led the session on “Compelling Communications”, focusing on branding synagogues and using social networking to advance their missions.

“Data Driven Innovation” showed how research and data-guided analysis and planning are reshaping how synagogue boards make decisions to best serve their communities today and to plan for their future. This workshop was presented by Harry Chevan, Executive Vice President of the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn, and Michelle Stack, Executive Vice President of Huntington Jewish Center and the Long Island Synergy Coordinator for UJA Federation New York.

“The levels of energy and enthusiasm at the Convention were extremely invigorating” said Joel Cutler, Biennial Convention Chair and a METNY District Vice Chair. “The panel and workshop presenters gave us both creative and practical ideas to bring back to our congregations to implement.”

The convention marked Sharon Steinberg, METNY President, passing the role of the METNY leadership to Norman Korowitz. Norman’s title will be District Chair; this title change was part of the recent transformation of USCJ.  “Our strength is in our people and our relationships with each other” said Norman. “We are a family and when one succeeds, we all do-that’s why we must work with each other. METNY has taken huge steps. And we are building on our past successes-and there are many-we will continue to exceed those challenges.” Please click here to view Sharon’s speech. Norman’s biennial remarks can be found here.

Norman and his wife, Carole, members of North Shore Jewish Center, are dedicated lay leaders in the Conservative Movement and have served METNY and United Synagogue for over 30 years. Carole is a METNY Past President and now serves as an International Vice President of United Synagogue.

The convention featured a delicious luncheon and awards ceremony for our synagogues that demonstrated excellence in various categories including bulletins and periodicals, adult education, Israel awareness, religious school, social action, website and youth activities.

During the afternoon program “The Ernest L. Rothschild Award” was also given out to ten individuals from around the METNY District that have demonstrated outstanding synagogue leadership.

“The Ernest L. Rothschild awards presented at the METNY Biennial highlighted 10 ‘heroes’ of our kehillot. The Rothschild award demonstrates a desire to pay tribute to those whose contribution to the vibrancy of their kehillah and the vitality of Jewish life,” said Rabbi Moshe Edelman, METNY Associate Executive Director.

METNY is appreciative of our dedicated lay leaders and staff that made the 2010 Biennial Convention a success. METNY would also like to thank the clergy, professionals and lay leaders of Beth El Synagogue Center – Rabbi Melvin Sirner; Rabbi David Kosak; Hazzan Farid Dardashti; Hazzan Uri Aqua; Irwin Davison, Executive Director; Erica Leventhal, Program and Youth Director; and Marc Klee, President – for their partnership and Hakhnasat Orchim.

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