Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today: Insights from the Author

Thank you to Rabbi Hayim Herring for sharing his expertise with us on a webinar last week and on our online book group throughout the month of June, as we discuss his book, Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today.

Over 50 people registered for our webinar to learn from Hayim and discuss the concepts he shared and their application to their congregational settings.  We discussed the very tachlis details of who leads change and how, and big (and sometimes purposefully theoretical) questions like "will synagogues as we know them continue to exist in the next few decades"?

You can find the recording of the webinar and related resources shared during the webinar here.

Our online book group — held in a Facebook Group — continues, and we welcome you to join us!  Current conversations have been around testing and piloting new ideas, what has changed in synagogue life in the last 10 years, and how do we retain a sense of sacred community while still being respectful of the desire for individualism and self-directedness?  Come on over to the book group to respond, and/or to pose your own questions too!

Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today: Insights from the Author

Thank you to Rabbi Hayim Herring for sharing his expertise with us on a webinar last week and on our online book group throughout the month of June, as we discuss his book, Tomorrow’s Synagogue Today.

Over 50 people registered for our webinar to learn from Hayim and discuss the concepts he shared and their application to their congregational settings.  We discussed the very tachlis details of who leads change and how, and big (and sometimes purposefully theoretical) questions like "will synagogues as we know them continue to exist in the next few decades"?

You can find the recording of the webinar and related resources shared during the webinar here.

Our online book group — held in a Facebook Group — continues, and we welcome you to join us!  Current conversations have been around testing and piloting new ideas, what has changed in synagogue life in the last 10 years, and how do we retain a sense of sacred community while still being respectful of the desire for individualism and self-directedness?  Come on over to the book group to respond, and/or to pose your own questions too!

The Networked Nonprofit

Last week I dove into the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Conference, commonly known at #10NTC. (I dare you, search for that on Twitter and see how active is STILL is, days after the conference wrapped up. Us NPtechies are an enthusiastic, passionate and smart bunch. You can also find 58 Powerpoints from the conference on Slideshare, 870 photos on Flickr, videos on Youtube … need I go on?)

Screen shot 2010-04-09 at 4.18.20 PMOne of the best sessions I attended was where Beth Kanter and Allison Fine (among the gurus of nonprofit technology) presented their upcoming book, The Networked Nonprofit (due out in June, but you can preorder here). These two women completely understand the future of nonprofit organizations in the digital age, and I could listen to their wisdom, humor and case studies for days.

One element from their presentation keeps knocking around in my head, the idea of three stages of organizational development in this networked era.

  1. Fortress – an organization where there are insiders and outsiders, and the two rarely meet or interact;
  2. Transactional – an organization that is engaged with their community, but with the sole focus of transactions, such as getting people to sign up for an event or make a donation;
  3. Transparent – an organization that fully engages and empowers their community to accomplished shared goals.

I love the simplicity of these three stages, and the acknowledgment that getting on social media platforms is not the ultimate goal. Plenty of people are promoting events on Facebook and measuring success by the number of tushes in the seats. But the real paths to accomplishing our mission and goals, and the more accurate measurements of success go far beyond this. They also require a leap of faith, and the ability to take that first leap.

Remember the first time you climbed to the top of a high dive as a kid, your heart beating so hard you thought it would leap out of your chest, and that moment when you finally hurled yourself into the air? It’s the same moment really. And remember when you went back again and again and again to do it over and over? Yeah, it’s like that too.

So tell us — what stage are you at? What do you need to move from one stage to the next? Where do you see examples of “transparent” organizations or activities?

10 for 2010: #3 People of the E-Book

Last week’s launch of the iPad signaled Apple’s entrance into the digital world’s growing market for the “third device.” While personal computers and cell phones are two distinct devices, some are calling for a gadget to fill the space in between the two. Whether that device is going to be more like the do-all netbook/tablet iPad or a dedicated reader like Amazon’s Kindle is yet to be seen.

What can be said though is that these new devices are not a passing fad. Some hopeful analysts claim that the iPad and Kindle, by offering new format possibilities for books, newspapers and magazines, might just save the media industry. E-books, for example, are currently available for 125,000 titles on Amazon and make up 6 percent of the site’s total sales in books, including 48 percent of all titles available in both formats.But forecasters project sales to grow exponentially in the near future to the point that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has proclaimed that after a successful 500-year run, the book’s time has come.

For the People of the Book, a people not generally known for its early entrance into new technology opportunities, it’s time to start envisioning how things will change as we become the People of the E-book.

  • How might the Jewish community increase Jewish literacy as more religious and educational resources become digitized in e-formats, and thus become more easily disseminated and accessed?
  • Will prayer become more individualized as siddurs (prayer books) become available to everyone and can be carried without adding any extra bulk to a briefcase or book bag?
  • Will learning of Jewish texts attract new students as Torah and Talmud become available in new formats?
  • Will Jewish life become less expensive by saving on the purchase of books at religious schools and day schools?
  • How might synagogues and JCCs build relationships beyond their walls as sermons, newsletters and blog entries are sent to the palm of constituents’ hands?
  • Will all Jews need a handheld device, like new students at some universities, in order to fully participate in all the community has to offer?

We want to hear from you! How else might the Jewish world change as it enters the digital realm? What’s your organization or community doing to interact in the digital world?

How I Won a Copy of Twitterville (and you can too!)

Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble) has a new book, Twitterville.

Beth Kanter was giving away copies Twitterville the other day. I saw it on Facebook (I’m a fan of hers) but it was also on Twitter and her blog. (She’s a pro at making the most of multiple channels, without leaving me feeling inundated from every direction. It’s a real art.)

Beth periodically runs contests like this. She asks people to leave a comment responding to a particular question to enter the contest. It’s not random — she picks those whom she thinks are most deserving or will make the most of the prize. What I love about these contests is that by having a public entry process, she creates a forum for interesting people to share their work and ideas. I always learn something from reading the other entries.

So I left a comment saying how much I appreciate this approach to surfacing great ideas and practices. And heck, if giving away the book can do it, if I win, I’ll re-give-away the book to surface more good things, specifically in the Jewish community where we work.

She loved the idea and I won the book! (Well, to be honest, by the time she announced the winners she had about a dozen books – there were so many good responses that the author kicked in some copies, she found more promo copies, and others bought copies to add to the contest!) You can read about the results here.

And the punchline is … Shortly we’ll be putting up our own blog post to give away the book (once I get it, and read it). We’ll be asking about how you’re using Twitter in strategic and goal oriented ways. So start thinking about it, and experimenting on Twitter so you’ll have something juicy to share when we announce the contest. And, as always, you’re welcome to share your experiences (what’s working as well as what you’re challenged by) in the comments here.

P.S Another great Beth post on Twitter: How nonprofits are using hashtags

What you’re favorite Beth Kanter nugget of wisdom? Leave a link in the comments.

Alban’s New Book: Reaching Out in a Networked World: Expressing Your Congregation’s Heart and Soul

The Alban Institute has clearly identified technology as a fundamental tool for successful congregations. Their recent magazine focused on connected congregations, and they’ve just published a new book, Reaching Out in a Networked World. Communications expert and pastor Lynne Baab examines a variety of technologies such as websites, blogs, online communities, and desktop publishing, and counsels congregations on how to evaluate these tools and use them appropriately to communicate their identities to members and prospects

Alban’s in depth knowledge of congregations (Jewish and otherwise) make this publication a unique and focused read for synagogue staff and lay leadership. Check out Lynne’s blog post on Myths about Communicating Congregational Identity for insights into her writing and thinking. Learn more about the book and order it here.

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

Groundswell book cover

While a host of recent publications have focused on social media (and many of them very useful and worth reading, such as Naked Converastions and The Long Tail), the mere fact that Forrest Research has published this book is a major statement not just for big business, but far beyond.

According to the authors, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, the groundswell is a social trend in which people use technologies to get things from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations. The themes, data, strategies and suggestions they present are just as relevant for Jewish life and Jewish organizations as they are for corporations. In this new landscape, we must examine how our organizations can adjust to remain relevant to the consumer or community member, and explore how both the organization and community can benefit from these trends.

Groundswell is a huge help in understanding these questions and deriving useful answers. The book is extremely well organized, and accessible to readers of all sophistications. Part 1 defines a variety of tools (blogs, wikis, social networking, etc.) and their strategic value and practical uses. However the real value of the book is in its second part, Tapping the Groundswell. This four-step planning process is a fantastic tool for any organization that wants to better align itself with this important shift, focusing on People, Objectives, Strategy and (finally) Technology.

Ultimately, the Groundswell is all about relationships. And this is the business we are in. Thus, we cannot ignore the significance of these trends and their implications for the relevance and success (or lack thereof) of our work. The social media tools are just that: tools. They not sufficient, but are increasingly necessary for our continued success in our work. This book will help you understand the tectonic shift taking place, the tools and trends, and the strategies through which you can take part in this excitement and power of the groundswell.

Groundswell is an important, accessible and thorough work, which is valuable to both novice web 2.0 folks as well as those who are more experienced. For more, check out the Groundswell blog.

Have you read the book already? What did you think? What was the most valuable “take away” for you?