Some people think that being a leader means always having good ideas and taking decisive action. While I’d like to think that’s true at least some of the time, the best leaders I have known are willing to listen to those they are leading. The ability to hear the needs and wants of the congregation, and then convert those needs into action, is preferable over a President or a Board who “always” knows what’s best.

Our most recent board meeting had an incredible turnout from our membership. Advocating for a statement on our Temple website in support of Am Yisrael, our members clearly made themselves heard. They allowed the board to respond to their concerns with thoughtful discussion, and all respectfully listened to multiple points of view. In the end, I’m proud to share that the motion to prominently display on our website the heartfelt and balanced statement, crafted by the Social Action Committee, passed unanimously. If you were at that board meeting, thank you for participating. If you were not in attendance, I wish you could have been there. You would be as inspired as I am by the thoughtful and respectful discussions that were had. You would see how much our members care about this community and care about Judaism in the world. The quality of the conversation and the respect for everyone who spoke, regardless of their opinion, remained elevated and inclusive.

I’m not here trying to pat myself on the back for doing literally what the job of a temple board job is, but I do think this was a cool example of how leadership and governance actually work. Members used the tools available to reach the board and communicate their needs; the board listened to the members and considered a motion to adjust the course of action. A board and the congregation won’t always be perfectly aligned, but this is how the back and forth is supposed to work, with transparency, accountability, and inclusivity.

When someone feels like Temple leadership is out of step with their will as a member, it can easily make someone question whether this really is their community. They may withdraw from Temple activities and relationships, but I encourage you to lean in and reach out. I wish to tell you that we on the Temple board, clergy, and administration welcome hearing from you. The board does its best to balance out the needs of a very diverse membership, and building the channels of communication and trust is the only way we stand a chance of getting it right. We are committed to being a congregation where Jews all across the religious and political spectrum are welcome and included. We encourage your participation and engagement, and we will be more diverse and vibrant for it.

To our building goodwill and better friendships together,
Tova McGilvray