Charter FAQ

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About the Library Minyan Governing Charter
1. Why do we need a charter document?

So that newcomers, as well as veterans, can easily understand how the Minyan operates and makes decisions, and so that active participation in the Minyan’s lay-leadership structure is clearly encouraged and comfortably available. In short, for the sake of transparency and wide participation.

2. How did the charter come into being?

In 2011 then Minyan Master (the previous term for Rosh Minyan) Abby Harris, appointed Joel Grossman to form a New Charter sub-committee tasked with creating a charter.  He, along with members Dianne Shershow, Rabbi Susan Laemmle, Rabbi Avi Havivi and Abby Harris developed a draft, which was eventually adopted by a vote of the Minyan.  In 2023, Carl Sunshine, noticing that the charter was out of date, volunteered to update the charter to conform to the new reality of the Minyan.  His updated draft was adopted, with minor changes, by the Minyan in January 2024.

3. What types of issues does the minyan vote on?  Aren’t we bound by the senior rabbi of TBA?

As a constituent minyan within Temple Beth Am, the Library Minyan is bound by certain decisions of the senior rabbi, as well as other members of the TBA senior staff. Basically, the Minyan governs its own practice through a democratic process, within the guidelines of Jewish law and Temple Beth Am policy. The Charter calls for inquiries on substantial matters to be decided within the Steering Committee, by an Action Committee, or by the Minyan as a whole.

4. What does the Minyan’s motto “Come, Serve, and Belong” mean?

The first part—Come—reflects the Minyan’s philosophy that those who attend the Minyan on a regular basis count as members. Those who attend infrequently are most welcome, but should refrain from voting on Minyan issues.
The second part—Serve—stems from the fact that the Minyan is lay-led. Therefore, all members are expected to give of themselves in one form or another, based on the individual interests and skills of the particular member. Serving can take the form of serving as a coordinator or a rotating Gabbai, leading services, reading Torah or Haftarah, volunteering to serve on a committee, organizing meals for a family sitting shiva or welcoming a new baby, being a greeter or helping in other ways.
The third part—Belong—means that voting membership in the Minyan requires being a paid member of Temple Beth Am. The TBA Executive Director is available to discuss membership levels to fit different financial circumstances.

5. What are these committees you speak of?

The original Charter set out a number of standing committees.  Because many were committees of one, the new Charter changed the named to coordinators (Ritual, Community, Education, Membership, Communications, Finance), who, along with the Rosh, make up the Steering Committee.  The Rosh can also establish ad hoc committees as needed.

9. What is the “Rosh”?

“Rosh” literally means “head” but has the connotation of “first among equals.”

The same term is used in Jewish camps, which communicates the person’s being in a central role without suggesting that they wield undue authority or operate in a vacuum.

Qualifications for becoming Rosh are: having served on the Steering Committee at any time; having experience with the give and take of Minyan activity and decision making.

As specified in the Charter, the Rosh fulfills several important functions: helping to coordinate the variety of Minyan activities, and ensuring they are properly publicized (along with the Webmaster and Communications Coordinator). The Rosh serves as the point of contact for members and visitors who have questions concerning Minyan policy or practice and directs them to relevant coordinators for assistance. The Rosh ensures that decisions of the Steering Committee are recorded and made available. Beyond this, the Rosh will be attentive to how committees and coordinators are functioning and feeling, bringing to the Steering Committee problems that seem to be cropping up and also informally smoothing areas of friction. By definition, each Rosh will make the job his or her own, with particular emphases and initiatives. However, the Charter prevents the Rosh and other Minyan leaders from operating in unilateral fashion or ignoring the communal decision-making process.

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