Library Minyan Meeting

September 18, 2011

Attendees:  Hershel Elkins, Miriam Elkins, Abby Harris, Joel Grossman, Susan Laemle, Aiv Havivi, Fran Grossman, Manya Webber, Mike Cohn, AJ Happel, Rina Carmel, Bill Seligman, Gail Labovitz, Jerry Krautman, Dianne Shershow, Aliza Shudafski, Barbara Breger, Val Goldstein, Lida Baker, Terri Cohan-Link and Sandra Lepson The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Joel Grossman. Joel Grossman: He  offered a D’var Torah on Nitzavim He introduced the meeting, referred to the July Minyan meeting that discussed Library Minyan issues and had ran out of time so we are continuing discussion specifically regarding governance and decision-making. Henry Morgan found the Minyan Bi-Laws Library Minyan Proposed Resolution Regarding Governance from 1985.  See Attachment A There was a brief Discussion of the similarities and differences and fact that issues of governance were discussed also in 1985. Bill Seligman: He read the notes regard the July meeting. Abby Harris: She explained how governance/decisions are currently made etc.  See website. Mike Cohn: Wants clarity regarding governance, roles and responsibilities, successor planning, some sort of direction. Bill Seligman: Ties it to “pay, come and serve.”  “Open” before you get a voice you need to participate in the Minyan. Sandra Lepson: Don’t create barrier to entry. Jerry Krautman: Work on getting people involved and being warm and cuddly. Mike Cohn: Defines himself as member of Temple Beth Am who attends the Library Minyan. Gail Lebovitz: We are allowed to define – define serve broadly. Fran Grossman: I think it is important for the group to define itself. There is a tension between exclusivity and elitism.  There was a discussion regarding to a decision was made with respect to artwork in the Chapel- it was made by Temple Beth Am members who had not Library Minyan participation. “Group Cohesion” – responsibilities and benefits to being part of a group.  It is wonderful to have community support.  There is a difference between community and a social group. Barbara Breger: Agree with Gail, Shul considers the Library Minyan to have a “membership.”   We don’t to exclude those who come regularly and don’t “participate.”  We want them there. Abby Harris: Shul has a list of people who come to the Library Minyan for the High Holidays.  However, the Library Minyan is broader than that.  We also have a Minyan mailing list. Sandra Lepson: Inclusivity in important. Lida Baker: In 1988 Paul and I joined.  There was ‘Pay, come and serve.”  10% of the people do 90% of the work.  If people want to be with us we should make them feel welcome.  Having said that, my concern is what happens when Abby decides she does not want to be Minyan Master anymore. Abby Harris: There is a succession system.  The Minyan Master asks someone to take over. Lida Baker: I don’t like that.  We need a better succession system and a certified method of making decisions. Joel Grossman: Pay, come and serve – I’m not aware of anybody who has been thrown out of the Minyan for not participating. Hershel Elkins: Library Minyan History: It started as an independent group meeting on Shul property.  IT was lay led.  What do we do in the Library Minyan to meet the needs of the Library Minyan to encourage people to come and to encourage people to participate?  How can we better meet the needs of the Library Minyan attendees? Susan Laemmle: I think that we are coming together at an historic moment.  We must acknowledge how much things have changed.  There are other shuls and minyanim now.  Temple Beth Am has a dynamic new rabbi and cantor.  We have to have a plan taking that into account.  What makes us unique – we are a full service shul and a highly participatory minyan combined.. Our governance should be transparent, effective. We should have a plan for succession of leadership.  We should also work with Rabbi Kligfeld. Aliza Sudofsky: In the eight years we’ve been here, things have really changed.  How are we going to be pat of the shul?  We need to be welcoming of free movement among minyanim.  We need to make people feel comfortable just davening.  We need to be more welcoming and welcoming of working with the larger shul. Terry Cohan Link: You need to show up, pray and serve.  That is a big part of what the Library Minyan is about.  The idea of serving has lost it message over the years.  There are lots of ways of serving.  We’ve lost that sense of the various ways of how we can serve – there are many ways to participate. AJ Happel: I am a newcomer.  I move among the services.  I’m about to open a can of worms.  I see the issue in the Library Minyan as a age dynamics issue.  Before we hired our new cantor, the Main Sanctuary services was getting older.  The Library Minyan used to be younger it is getting older and the younger generation wants something different.  Suggestion: Got o others in the other minyans and invite them to come into the Library Minyan to the show in the Library Minyan. Dianne Shershow: I feel that we need to prioritize.  We need to make decisions regarding what are the priorities:
  1. Library Minyan Structure
  2. How the Library Minyan fits with the rest of the shul.
  3. How to involve people.
Fran Grossman: She highlighted what to discuss after governance. But tonight – let’s talk about governance.  One concern I had about governance is that people serve until they burn out.  We need a support structure and committees to support leadership.  Our leaders can feel unappreciated and burn out. Abby Harris: I think we have to be careful about something: We have historically not be the same as the other minyanim.  We have been independent in our decision-making.  There is a tension between maintaining independence and being a part of the shul.  Also – it is important that we not consider that we lose members to other minyanim. Aliza Shudafski; There are people who have left because the minyan does not fulfill thre needs.  How do we define independent? Abby Harris, Joel Gross and Herschel Elkins: Discussion of history regarding dues. Joel Grossman: Let’s get down to business and talk about minyan governance.  I think that we are attracting some younger families – welcoming them – subject for another time.  Tonight we should tlak aobut governance.  I propose that we come up with something we can tke back to the minyan. Mike Cohn:  We should form subcommittees to discuss the following: 1.      Governance and succession planning 2.      Relationship to the shul 3.      Strategic Planning: School’s feed membership – how are we reaching out to them. Rina Carmel: The 1985 proposal has term limits.  Rina is ready to resign her position as haftarah coordinator but does not know how to go about fining a replacement. Bill Seligman: Need to focus on governance.  Let’s create a structure and then let that structure, broader leadership group, address the other issues.  Bill is concerned with Abby’s take on the shul having authority to limit the Library Minyan.  The shul may have the right to limit the minyan but the shul is not going to do it.  We need to remember that we are part of and subordinate to the shul.  We owe the shul and the Rabbis of the shul tremendous respect.  We should create a system of governance that encourages participation.  We have to offer multiple ways of entry into davening and leadership. Joel Grossman:  I feel that the original direction of the minyan master was appropriate and that more authority should be given to the steering committee.  I think that it evolved into the minyan master being the decision maker.  I would like to go back to the 1985 proposal or something like it. Barbara Breger: I would like to add to the agenda: The minyan has become more aged, we’ve lost younger people and we need to address this. Avi Havivi:  On the 1985 proposal:  more people involved in governance; broadly based governance will help us to address more other issues. Sandra Lepson: Do we deal with the halachic decision making and non-Halachic decision making differently – address in governance committee. Susan Laemmle: Let’s talk about how to get our governance committee started. Lida Baker:  Sub points 1.      Succession for leadership 2.      How many committees 3.      Let’s get specific regarding committee’s mandate.  Let’s make an effort to bring in others to these committees. Gail Labovitz: We haven’t dealt with governance. Mike Cohn:  Let’s define parameters of a governance committee.  We should gauge interest, set benchmarks and move forward. Bill Seligman:  My notion for the group: Joel designate a group of 5-7 people here to come up with a governance recommendation to be disseminated to the kahal by the end of Sukkot.  Starting point for the committee: do we revert to the 1985 structure or do we change it and how and then tweak it with Joel. Abby Harris:  And we should determine what of the 1985 governance proposal stays and what get lost and why. Fran Grossman:  Issue of the different leadership roles – school, shul and minyan.  I propose a starting point should be the reinstatement of the steering committee. Joel Grossman: He asked for volunteers for the committee and the following raised their hands:  Bill Seligman, Avi Haviv, Fran Grossman, Jerry Krautman, Diane Shershow, Terry Cohan-Link, Abby Harris, Gail Labovitz, Sandra Lepson. Terri Cohan Link: There are too many people.  Let Joel choose 4-5 for the list. Joel Grossman:  Does not want to choose people. Susan Laemmle: Joel should not be on the committee but oversee it. Lida Baker:  He should mediate the committee as well. Joel Grossman:  Bills’ idea – use attachment A as the starting point and draft some governance principles. Jerry Krautman:  Offers to turn the attachment into a word document. Joel Grossman:  He will pick 4 people out of a hat to be on the committee. Bill’s time frame is too ambitious but needs to be done with all deliberate haste. Attachment “A”


February 10, 1985

1.     Group discussions of the proposed resolutions of the Library Minyan (see text below). 2.     General discussion of the proposed resolutions. 3.     Vote on the proposed resolution. Proposed Resolutions of the Library Minyan Governance Committee WHEREAS, at its November 18th 1984, meeting, the Library Minyan voted to establish a committee to bring a proposal to the membership to establish a system of governance; and WHEREAS, in considering the form of governance, the Governance Committee reviewed the fo11ovlng list of existing characteristics of the Library Minyan: l.      Controlled anarchy. 2.     No rabbi. 3.     Egalitarian. 4.     Welcomes participation by all its members in all areas, including governance. 5.     Revolving nature of leadership. 6.     Lack of politics. 7.     Childcare/ consciousness of children. 8.     Nonmembers are not allowed to rent the Minyan for personal reasons; e.g., Bar Mitzvahs, high holidays, aufraufs. 9.     Tolerance of diversity of styles with limits of halacha. 10.   Independence from other organization, in general. 11.   Affiliation with Temple Beth Am. WHEREAS, the Governance Committee bas attempted to preserve the existing form of the Library Minyan while recognizing the need for improved governance I NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLIIED, that the Library Minyan does hereby adopt the following format for governance: 1.     The Library Minyan membership has complete authority to make or to delegate any decision affecting the Library Minyan. 2.     The Library Minyan hereby delegates the review and implementation of issues and programs to committees 3.     Committees of the library Minyan shall be composed of numbers of the Library Minayn.   All committees shall be open to any member of the Library Minyan. 4.     The standing committees shall include:
a.     Synagogue Relations b.     Children and Youth c.     Ritual d.     Education e.     Social/Hospitality f.     Finance/Membership
5.     Each committee shall select a chairperson who shall serve for a term of one (1) year.  The chairperson shall be elected no later than January 31 of each calendar year, and shall take office on March 1 of each year.  No chairperson shall serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms. 6.     The chairperson, or another designee, off each standing committee, shall serve on an executive committee.  This committee (the “Steering Committee”) shall also select from the members of the Minyan three additional members (the “at Large Members”) to serve on the Steering Committee.  The outgoing and incoming members of the Steering Committee shall meet in February of each calendar year to select the three new At Large Members of the Steering Committee.  The Steering Committee shall select a spokesperson from amongst its members. 7.     The Steering Committee shall be responsible for the operation of the Minyan. As to issues which must be addressed and duties which must be discharged, the Steering Committee sha1l either:
a.     delegate full responsibility to a standing committee; b.     assign to a standing committee the duty to study the issue and propose recommendations; c.     create an ad hoc committee to study the issue and propose recommendations; or d.     assume full responsibility for study of an issue itself. As to the recommendations of issues from the committees, the Steering Committee shall either: a.     make a decision itself; b.     delegate the decision to a committee; c.     delegate the decision to a member of the Minyan; or d.     refer the decision to the Minyan.
8.     The Steering Committee shall call general meetings of the Minyan as needed, but no less frequently than once every six (6) months. II RESOLVED FURTHER, that individuals be considered voting members of the Library Minyan based on the following criteria: 1.     All members must pay dues.  A member who joins the Minay between June 1 and December 1 of a calendar year shall pay full due to Temple Beth Am.  A member who joins at another time of the year shall make a contribution to the Minyan on a basis to be determined by the Finance/Membership Committee. 2.     All members must be at least 13 years old. 3.     All members must attend Shabbat services at the Library Minyan on a regular basis.  An individual who attends at least twice per month shall be presumed to be attending on a regular basis. 4.     All members shall serve the Minyan in some capacity. Membership shall also entitle members and their children to High Holiday seats.
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