Changing the Game

By Alan Avery Peck, Vice President for Religion and Israel Action, Temple Israel Natick

Temple Israel of Natick was so lucky last year to benefit from a CJP grant that allowed us to work with Resetting the Table, both in the running of two programs in our congregation and in the consulting time we had with RTT. I served as chair of TI's Israel Engagement Task Force, and felt privileged to have the help and guidance we needed to address real issues we were facing in our congregation regarding programming and discussion of Israel.

I am writing now to share with you the outcome of our year's work with Resetting the Table. Last night our board approved Temple Israel’s new Israel Engagement Mission Statement. The discussion around this motion was not easy, and we still have a lot of work to do to create a safe context for programming and dialogue. But the passage of this Mission Statement means that we can now proudly announce, both to current and prospective members, clear congregational commitments. I was touched and encouraged last night when our new, and young, membership VP argued that, especially given the sensibilities of her generation, we need this document to tell current and potential members who we are and what we stand for. She told the board that, beyond just being important, the Mission Statement is a game changer and perhaps a model for other congregations. That is certainly our hope in creating it.

As I have before, I want to thank CJP whole heartedly for the support that made our work on this possible. And I want be clear that the advice and direction we received from Resetting the Table was, beyond important, fundamental. We had a growing awareness of a congregational issue but simply could not have worked our way through the difficult political and interpersonal quagmire of diverse opinions (and egos) without the direction and resources Resetting the Table provided. Nor could we have begun to provide a path forward without their help in facilitating the congregational forums that meant so much to everyone who attended.

Bottom line: it is beyond clear to us at Temple Israel just how gaming changing, to use our membership VP's language, this process and its outcome to date have been. We will go forward now as a stronger and more vibrant community, and, most important, as a community that is better able to educate our members about Israel. That is a real accomplishment, and one that would not have been possible without CJP and Resetting the Table.