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Strategic Planning Task Force

       Arthur Frankel, Chair
           Ruth Lefton, Co-Chair
      Greta Wrigley, Co-Chair

6/14/2021 - Click on the image below for an update from Arthur Frankel


6/14/2021 - An Update on the Strategic Planning Process                

Dear Fellow Congregant,

I hope you take the time to read this as I want everyone to be updated on the strategic planning process.  The Strategic Planning Committee is very excited about the progress we have made over the course of the past year!


So much has happened these past 13 months. It was the beginning of the COVID era when Jeff Gordon asked me to lead a strategic planning process for Beth Sholom Congregation. An email from April 30, 2020, reflects the mission of the process- ‘The Strategic Planning Taskforce is an initiative to plan for the future of the Beth Sholom community. We recognize that the world is changing, and it is critical for our community to create a path towards a shared future in unity.’

Nineteen congregants volunteered to be on the Taskforce and our first meeting was held by Zoom on May 6, 2020.  Our primary objective was to hire a consultant and over the next few weeks we developed a Request for Proposal to distribute to prospective candidates. A subgroup of the Strategic Planning Taskforce vetted candidates through the summer and on August 28 we chose Linda Rich and Rabbi Hayim Herring to work with us.


Linda Rich is a consultant and executive coach focused on the nonprofit and faith-based sectors after years in the corporate world. Linda has consulted with congregations and organizations on issues that include mergers and alliances, strategic planning, governance, team building, and volunteer management.

Rabbi Herring is a certified organizational futurist who coaches individuals and organizations to “prepare for tomorrow today™” by anticipating and preparing for potential positive outcomes and avoiding possible adverse consequences of innovations, policy changes, and initiatives. His specialties include entrepreneurship, volunteer engagement, nonprofit strategy, social networks and communications, marketing, and assessment.

Initial Process:

Representatives to the Strategic Planning Committee were chosen strategically across almost all cohorts of our congregation. Our consultants began their work and over the next 4 months interviewed scores of congregants and reviewed reams of materials dating back to 2000. During that time a Communications Committee, Synagogue Best Practice Committee, and a Bylaws/Governance Committee were formed. In mid-November, the Synagogue Best Practice Committee found the following elements to be common among thriving congregations:

1. Clergy are respected

2. Clergy play a significant role in influencing and reinforcing congregational culture

3. Clergy play a significant role in influencing innovation

4. Clergy place a focus on welcoming families of all configurations

5. Clergy appreciate members’ diversity

6. Clergy participates in annual family Shabbat retreats off-site, and they participate in overseas trips with congregants

7. Music is a driving element in creating community within and uniting the congregation.

Consultant Interim Reports:

In an interim report in mid-November a few issues were beginning to surface that grabbed the committee’s attention. Though much of what we were told was not surprising, it was, nevertheless, sobering to hear, especially since the information was coming from non-biased individuals. Linda and Hayim noted that many of our members were isolated into separate silos and factions, and that, as an organization, there were unresolved issues involving governance and leadership, transparency and trust, and the lay leadership/clergy relationship. They also felt that Beth Sholom Congregation had not developed a clear brand identity to distinguish it from other synagogues. 

Their next interim report in early January suggested that we postpone strategic planning at this time until all our organizational deficits had been addressed. Synagogue leadership strongly felt that we could do both at the same time.  Rabbi Herring agreed and continued as our sole consultant through the remainder of the process.

The Brand:

 As mentioned above, early in our strategic planning process our consultants strongly encouraged that much of the work of the committee revolve around the concept of branding. I share this portion of their report with you verbatim.

“BRAND - Adopt a Clear and Compelling Brand

Beth Sholom's leadership has been resistant to branding. Members of the Strategic Planning Committee fear that a clear brand will exclude people. They are less inclined to see the flip side, namely that a clear brand will make others feel more included. However, we believe that it is possible to create a brand narrow enough to differentiate and broad enough to be inclusive. This kind of branding maintains the status quo for those who enjoy it and affirms the need to elevate the Center for Spiritual Well-being, the Mitzvah Food Pantry, and future innovations.

We propose a brand based on concrete elements representing some of the best aspects of Beth Sholom’s past and present. The components are concrete, specific, and inherent to the congregation. The brand is memorable, provides a framework for people to rally around, and can promote energy and engagement.

Beth Sholom’s brand should focus on:

Culture and Arts, Compassion, Connection

Culture and Arts - personified by the building and history of music, arts and culture

Compassion - caring for those less fortunate, embodied in the Mitzvah Food Pantry

Connection - to G-d and each other, demonstrated by the close-knit “family feeling” of involved members, the Shabbat morning service, and the Center for Spiritual Well-Being

Recent Planning Process Activities:

During late winter and early spring, well aware of all the challenges that had been presented to us, the Committee went into high gear. The Committee divided into smaller groups, called action teams, to develop initiatives that would focus on culture (and arts), compassion, and connectivity.

I would like to share with you briefly some of the wonderful and creative ideas that were considered and presented from the action teams to the Strategic Planning Committee. 

Arts and culture proposals include an annual art exhibition of works by members of the synagogue and the community, a celebration of the diversity of the Jewish people through music, customs, and food, and reestablishing Beth Sholom Congregation as the preeminent music center (synagogue) in the Philadelphia area.

Compassion initiatives include developing a shiva support group, a cooking program that would benefit both our participating members as well as the recipients of their work, and a volunteer match program that would put to use the many untapped talents of our congregants.

Connection initiatives include bringing together congregants with shared interests, multiple ways for our congregation to connect with Israel, and purposeful ways to reconnect to each other, our Rabbi, and G-d.

These nine initiatives were recently presented to the entire Strategic Planning Committee and the top three will be chosen shortly and presented to the Executive Committee on June 23, 2021.

The Committee is extremely proud of its work and believes there will be significant benefit to our congregants with the implementation of these initiatives. Obviously, it would be impossible to start all initiatives at once so we will recommend three that we believe will have a major impact on the congregation over the next 1-2 years and hopefully rollout other initiatives in the future. The Committee also believes that the process we used to choose these projects will be a template for developing future initiatives. Ira Rosenbloom will be chairing the Implementation Committee and you will be hearing much from him in the future.

Bylaws Committee:

A rewriting of the bylaws is nearly complete. It has been too many years since they were last reviewed and amended, and they no longer reflect the needs of our synagogue. Moving forward we will be recommending that the bylaws be reviewed on an annual basis. The bylaws are your bylaws and ultimately you, the congregation, will approve or disapprove. First our work needs to be sent to the Executive Committee and then on to the full Board for modifications and approval. Once the final version has been agreed upon it will be sent to the full membership. Meetings will be scheduled both in person and by Zoom so all congregants can give input and have questions answered.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following members of our congregation who worked at one time or another on the strategic planning process:  

Cantor Jacob Agar, Julie Atchick, Fern Billet, Ruth Bluethenthal-Appel, Amy Brewstein, Leah Brommer, Connie Clarke, David Cohen, Amy Cuker, Rene Feitelson, Drew Friedman, Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin, Alex Glijansky, David Gordon, Harvey Guttmann, Bill Haaz, Rich Heller, Shelley Hittinger, Michael Karp, Sue Kassutto, Robin Katz, Jay Leistner, Ruth Lefton, Sherri Leibowitz, Donna Levin, Sarah Levin, Bill Loy, Jonathan Magen, Beverly McFadden, Rabbi Andrea Merow, Elisa Mindlin, Avi Mindlin, Robin Minkoff, Carol Nemeroff, Jeannette Norris, Danielle Otero, Andrea Otto, Larry Oxenberg, Tony Pomeranz, Fred Poritsky, Beth Porter, Emma Raymont, Ira Rosenbloom, Anne Rubin, Nina Russakoff, Rachel Saifer Goldman, Stacey Salsman, Mimi Schneirov, Susie Shear, Donna Spector, Stuart Warsetsky, Marvin Weinberg, Fred Wolfson, Greta Wrigley

I would also like to thank all those congregants who participated in interviews with our consultants this past fall and winter and Zoom meetings last spring with our past presidents. I very much appreciate the involvement of our congregants in helping to move Beth Sholom Congregation forward.

Chairing the strategic planning process has been a labor of love for me, and I have truly appreciated the opportunity to lead the process.  It gave me the opportunity to work with, and get to know better, so many wonderful members of our congregation. Most important, I am enthusiastic about the creative ideas that the Committee has developed and how implementation of the strategic plan will benefit all of us.

Regards, Arthur Frankel

A message from our Chair...                

Dear Congregants,

This past summer we commenced the development of a new strategic plan for Beth Sholom Congregation. The plan will be the culmination of work of countless congregants and administrators. The initiatives will guide our efforts to ensure a thriving congregation for the 21st century. 

We launched this webpage to keep you fully apprised of the status of the strategic plan as well as to provide background regarding the plan’s leadership and structure. We will frequently update the site to keep you abreast of the ongoing work of the Culture, Compassion, and Connection Action Teams. When the strategic plan is completed it will be presented to the board for approval. Once approved, which we expect will be sometime this summer, we will utilize this page to provide updates on its implementation.

I hope you find this webpage useful and that you will be as inspired as I am about the progress we have made already. As always, you can provide any feedback or comments to me at

Warm regards,
Arthur Frankel

Click on the image below to learn more about our work:

Strategic Planning Action Teams

Culture and Arts
Connie Clarke, Chair
Cantor Jacob Agar
Julie Atchick
Drew Friedman
David Gordon
Harvey Guttmann
Robin Katz
Donna Levin
Fred Poritsky
Simon Rosen
Anne Rubin
Mimi Schneirov
Ira Rosenbloom, Chair
Leah Brommer
Rich Heller
Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin
Sarah Levin
Jonathan Magen
Beverly McFadden
Danielle Otero
Andrea Otto
Beth Porter
Tony Pomeranz
Ken Shear
Marvin Weinberg
Greta Wrigley
Sherri Leibowitz, Chair
Ruth Bluethenthal-Appel 
Amy Brewstein
Rene Feitelson
Sue Kassutto
Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin
Elisa Mindlin
Carol Nemeroff
Jeannette Norris 
Nina Russakoff
Stacey Salsman
Donna Spector
Stuart Warsetsky  
Bylaws and Governance
Shelley Hittinger, Chair
Fern Billet
Amy Cuker
Arthur Frankel
Bill Loy
Ruth Lefton, Chair
Drew Friedman
Robin Minkoff
Danielle Otero
Ira Rosenbloom
Greta Wrigley

Strategic Planning Structure

Strategic Planning Consultant: Rabbi Hayim Herring

   21st Century thriving congregations are entrepreneurial, know how to anticipate and enact their most desired           future, and  communicate transparently across multiple social media channels. They also tap into the diverse         generational perspectives of Gen Zers, Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and Super Seniors to navigate a               complex world.

   Beth Sholom’s Strategic Planning Process will not only produce innovations but has already some                     fundamental change  designed to help Beth Sholom thrive. Strategic Planning Committee members and an             expanded pool of congregants fullyengaged in developing a new focused direction.

To read more about Rabbi Herring click here.

To read Rabbi Herring's articles about building synagogues/ strength in the post-COVID era click here and here.

Sat, June 25 2022 26 Sivan 5782