2007 Using Co-Presidents to enhance leadership (pw=fjmc)

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Brotherhood Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, Ma. has developed a structure with Co-Presidents, who share the lead in our organization, which we would like to present for consideration for a Torch award.

Congregation Mishkan Tefila is a well established synagogue in the Boston area whose brotherhood works for the mission of enhancement of Jewish life for its members.  It is a large congregation with many activities.  Leading this organization was becoming too much to navigate for any one individual, even with a fairly strong board of directors who traditionally have been active to help make programs work.  The reality for a prospective president was that many of the best prospects were professionals or successful businessmen, who were challenged to keep their heads above water, with their work needs and obligations, juggled with their responsibilities of their children and spouses.

Co-Presidents allowed for reaching out to different generations coincidentally with new foci to draw for new membership.  The structure allowed for ways to cover when the other had conflicts.  Co-Presidents provided experience, education, and mentoring through a staggering structure of a two year office.  A new Co-President is elected each year so that they can “learn the ropes” their first year from their senior Co-President who had done the same the year before (and then goes on to teach the incoming one the second year as he had done for him by his senior the first).

This past year alone we had a very successful Man of the Year Breakfast with close to 275 attendees; a well attended and membership building and fundraising Paid-up Member Breakfast, with Hall of Fame New England Patriot Quarterback Steve Grogan; a very elaborate World Wide Wrap which has provided comfort for large numbers of men and religious school children with the mitzvah of Tefillin.  This included building a permanent module in our chapel with video and reading materials and additionally donating to all those with Bar and Bat Mitzvah a book on Tefillin.

Additional activities included a Yom HaShoah program which included breakfast, a Holocaust survivor author/speaker and musical program, sending out yellow candles and sending all Vav students, with money raised from our programming to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C. (close to 30 students in the past 2 years); running a Hearing Men’s Voices session on “Work and Worth”; co-sponsoring with our Sisterhood a professional one man production of the Broadway play “The Rothschilds”; co-sponsoring with our Israel Affairs Committee a JNF event to promote the work and goals of this important organization for the State of Israel; co-sponsoring with our Sisterhood a Brotherhood/Sisterhood Shabbat with hundreds of attendees and participants to lead the entire service, and co-sponsoring with our ritual director a program honoring those who attend our daily minyan, with a renowned physician speaking on the medical benefits of prayer shown through scientific research.

Last, but not least, is our dynamic softball team which has catalyzed the involvement of younger men in our organization and synagogue life.

We have increased membership in our Brotherhood this year by nearly 35% (to close to 150 members).

Having a great deal to do and to learn and having someone to share has made having Co-Presidents a most essential, valuable addition to our overall programming and organization.