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Strategic Planning

 

Creating the Future of Temple Beth Am: Strategic Planning Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How did you get input from the congregation, and what further opportunities will there be for input?

We spent a large part of the past year trying to understand the needs of our congregation. Every member of Temple Beth Am had multiple opportunities, both in person and online, for input at various stages during the development of this plan, including:

  • A community forum (March)
  • An online community survey (March)
  • The Annual Meeting (May)

We also held targeted focus groups for new members and for youth. Summaries of all this research have been available on this page of the Temple Beth Am website for the past several months. Here is the complete timeline for getting input on the plan:

  • TBAs Annual Congregational Meeting 2TBA's 2017 Annual Congregational MeetingBoard of Directors Focus Group: February 16
  • Interviews with Leaders from other Congregations: February / March
  • Youth Focus Group: March 19
  • New member Focus Group (through Zoom): March 1
  • In-Person Forum: 10:00 AM, March 5
  • Online Member survey: mid-March
  • Results reviewed at TBA Annual Meeting
  • President's Meeting: September 5
  • Congregational Meeting: October 15
  • Board Approval: November 16

The next phase of the project is to create an implementation plan delineating specific actions that we will take to meet the needs we identified. In this phase, we will seek input from existing committees, create new disappearing task forces, and encourage individual volunteers to help us identify and complete specific tasks necessary to do the work of the strategic plan.

  1. What youth involvement has there been? What did you learn from the youth focus group?

In March we held a youth focus group attended by about a dozen Madrichim and youth group (BATY) members. The youth were very open about what they perceive to be the strengths and challenges of the youth program. Here are the common themes:

  • The youth are appreciative of being able to make relationships – with each other, with younger kids (as Madrichim), and with the clergy. They also want more opportunities for intergenerational programming and for youth leaders to engage more with adult lay leaders.
  • They are able to find their own relationship with Judaism – there’s more than one way to be Jewish.
  • They value the inclusion of LGBTQ youth, Jews of color, and people from a diversity of backgrounds.
  • There is interest in a broader range of classroom experiences and subjects before 11th and 12th grades, and in spending less time in class preparing for B’nai Mitzvah.
  1. How will you ensure transparency in development of the implementation plan?

We will continue to update the website and put information about the implementation plan in eHappenings and the Bulletin. Just as we did with the SEED integration, we will have disappearing task forces to aid in developing the implementation strategy. We will work with existing committees and groups to help them align their work with the strategic plan. The members of the disappearing task forces will be posted and anyone can attend the meetings. Because we do not currently have the capacity for a members-only section of our website, disappearing task force minutes will be made available upon request.

  1. How do we accept the discord that comes with transparency? How can we give people a voice and ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard?

We welcome a diversity of voices and want to hear the full range of opinion in our community. We will uphold the ancient tradition of machloket l’shem shamayimdisagreement for the sake of heaven – by honoring our differences and insisting on respectful dialog. We will provide resources for our lay leaders to improve their facilitation skills so that everyone is able to fully participate in group discussions. By doing these things, we will create a culture in which everyone feels heard and respected, even in situations where they disagree with the final outcome.

  1. How do we engage people? How will we connect with other sacred communities?

There is a whole section in the plan on engagement (heart). We will engage people by increasing the types of opportunities to help other congregants in need, broadening our tikkun olam work, creating small group opportunities, actively welcoming and providing more thorough orientation for new members, reaching out to those who are on the periphery and using the audacious hospitality toolkit to learn new ways to welcome our congregants. The specific details are yet to come in the implementation plan. The specifics of how we will connect with other sacred communities will also be developed as part of the implementation plan.

  1. How does this plan address keeping the temple financially solvent?

Sustainability is one of the six priorities of the plan. A budget is an expression of our values, and a deficit budget is not aligned with the values contained in the strategic plan. We have been working toward more transparency about the budgeting process and about Temple Beth Am’s finances in general. We will do a better job of communicating about the different opportunities to support Temple Beth Am, through the annual financial commitment (dues), the Gala, the annual appeal, and legacy giving. We believe that as congregants are better able to see what their contributions are supporting – and also as they become more engaged – they will be more generous in their support. Clergy and staff will have input into developing and monitoring their budgets and will be held accountable by the Executive Director for keeping their expenses within the budget. The Nachshon campaign and upcoming refinancing of the K’hilah Center loan will help us to meet the strategic goals of resuming ongoing facility maintenance and rebuilding our cash reserves to at least three months of operating expenses.

  1. Do we have volunteers/staff to create new programs? And what about existing or previously active programs?

One of the first tasks for implementation of the plan will be a structural analysis of our staff. Do we have the right positions and the right people to fill those positions? We need to also explore if there are ways to do some things more efficiently, so we can do more with the same amount of resources. In addition, we will take a look at all of our programs to determine the extent to which they are aligned with the strategic plan. There may be some difficult choices to make. We may need to say goodbye to some programs that are no longer aligned with the plan – i.e., that do not build community or deepen our engagement with Judaism – to make way for new ones that are. These decisions will not be made lightly, and we will need to develop new metrics to help us look beyond headcounts and measure engagement. Engaging volunteers is a great way to get more people involved. We will also look at where volunteers can add value and take on tasks and where staff is required.

  1. How much more tech do we need?

Technology is one of the means that we will use to support the mission of deepening connections to Judaism and each other. We are exploring many ways technology can be helpful, for example:

  • Upgrading from ChaverWare to a new database/congregant management system will make it easier for members to connect with each other by shared interest. There are other apps and programs out there that support coordination of small groups.
  • Video streaming can help us bring services, lectures, or other experiences to congregants who are unable to attend in person.
  • Visual t’filah can help us learn the words to new music, and additional assistive technology can make it easier for hard-of-hearing people to fully participate in services and other events in the Sanctuary.
  • A revamped website can promote transparency by making it easier for us to share information – and easier for congregants to find it.

As we determine how technology can help us achieve our goals, we will also need to think about the order in which these can happen and at what point in the implementation of the plan.

  1. What does it mean that we will extend Temple Beth Am outside of the synagogue?

We want Temple Beth Am to be both a physical location and a state of mind. The building is our anchor, but we also strengthen the bonds of our community by encouraging congregants to join together “in their homes and on their ways” to engage with Judaism and each other. We will still come together as a community for holidays, Religious School, and other events; at the same time, we will empower a variety of other smaller gatherings in neighborhoods and even online to make it easier for people to connect with each other to create powerful Jewish experiences.

  1. What if the things I love about Temple Beth Am change?

The development of the strategic plan was a process that helped us to better understand the Temple Beth Am DNA – the things that make us “us.” Those things won’t change. There may be some things that we will do differently, and there may be some things we will need to scale back or end. If you are excited by what you see in the strategic plan – if you are looking for powerful Jewish experiences that deepen your relationship to Judaism and our community by engaging your heart, mind, and soul – then you will continue to find things to love about Temple Beth Am.

The most important thing you can do is to participate. We will need the help of many volunteers to implement the plan. The more people who participate, the better we will be able to serve the needs of this community.

  1. How does the plan address orientation for new members?

One of the strategies in the “heart” section of the plan is to design and implement a new congregational welcoming process that covers the first two to three years, so we can get to know their interests, connect them with other congregants with similar interests, and connect them with other opportunities for engagement.

  1. Can we be intentional about matching elders who don’t have grandchildren in Seattle with young families who don’t have grandparents in Seattle?

This is a great idea that we can explore further in the implementation phase of the plan. There is a significant interest in intergenerational programming of all kinds.

  1. Does the plan include ways in which congregants can engage in specific issues important to us – for example, climate change?

Yes. Part of the small group strategy will include a way for members to start affinity groups. We will create peer-leadership guidelines to provide structure to such groups, including how to include Jewish content into the groups. We also plan to train leaders in how to facilitate such groups, so that everyone can fully participate.

  1. How will I be kept informed? If I have questions or comments, who do I contact?

A    The Task Force will be posting information to eHappenings,TBA’s weekly online newsletter. If you have questions or comments, please send an email to TBA's Executive Director Barbara Green.