In 2014-2015, Temple Isaiah embarked on a strategic planning process entitled Isaiah 2020. An Isaiah 2020 task force was established and tasked with three overriding objectives; to create a description of Temple Isaiah in 2015, a vision for Temple Isaiah in the year 2020, and establish strategic initiatives to focus our direction moving forward.
Description of Isaiah in 2015
The Isaiah 2020 task force strategically researched all areas of Temple life, including, but not limited to a study of written works on strengthening synagogues, a review of our past strategic plan, study of our budget and finance processes, demographic study of our membership database, interviews with staff, clergy, board of directors and focus groups, review of organizational structure and physical plant infrastructure, interviews with similar sized congregations around the U.S., and a temple-wide census.
Vision for Isaiah in the year 2020
By 2020 Temple Isaiah will:
• Be a thriving, stable and inclusive community, rooted in the framework of relational Judaism, and supported by an established social media platform, including an online community for members to have 24/7 access to engage with each other in all areas of Temple life
• Provide flexible, creative, and participatory worship experiences
• Offer an integrated and intergenerational education approach toward Lifelong Learning, including online education
• Coordinate social action initiatives for temple-wide engagement, highlighting key areas of focus for greatest impact, participation, and leadership development
• Strategically manage our finances, and implement a business model that ensures fiscal viability with income that supports annual expenses, while meeting congregational needs
• Commit to an ongoing strategic direction process led by a chair person on the executive committee, utilizing the 2015 census data and supported by a research and evaluation process for ongoing innovation
5 strategic initiatives to focus on
Connected Congregation: Relational Judaism
Relational Judaism. Our future, like our history will be built on the quality of our relationships. Relationships are the basic foundation underlying all we do to serve our congregation. Building lasting relationships creates the warm, welcoming, intimate and vital, strong, sustainable community that is the hallmark of TI and contributes significantly to membership recruitment and retention.
The Board of Directors, Clergy and key lay leaders should engage in a study of relational Judaism in groups exploring where we are strong and where we need to increase focus. Future board actions should take into consideration the impact of decisions on strengthening relationships within our congregation.
Seeking the Sacred: Avodah/Prayer/Worship/Life Cycle Events
Increase participation with attention to individual needs by creating a worship environment to include flexible options for increased participation and worship spaces. Establish opportunities for ongoing congregational dialogue on worship practice through periodic forums, “hot topic” discussions and other means as appropriate. Continue to explore the use of music, online access, multi-generational services and other methodologies to continue expanding and enhancing worship experiences.
Lifelong Learning: Torah/Study/Learning
Establish Lifelong Learning as a focus throughout the congregation by creating an overall vision which creates a common thread tying together all learning opportunities. Coordinate the planning and execution of learning related offerings by Temple Isaiah from entry through adult learning. Explore opportunities to increase effectiveness of scheduling, funding, and program sourcing. Support investment in online education and increased access through new and emerging technologies, i.e. online community. Maintain high levels of focus on key areas such as: Leadership, Israel, World Jewry, Social Action and Reform Judaism.
Values in Action: G’Milut Chesed, Tikkun Olam, Community (Internal and External)
In keeping with our social action (ViA Isaiah-Temple Isaiah’s Values in Action) focus on hunger, homelessness, education, and community of care, clarify the purpose and focus of both internal and external community services and advocacy. Establish a steering committee led by a member of the Executive Committee of the Board overseeing ViA Isaiah, and including the ViA Isaiah chair, Director of Communications, and Clergy to provide consistent support and coordinate all Tikkun Olam and community social action activities toward a unified vision. Consideration to be given to less breadth, more depth of involvement, and availability of temple-wide community resources. ViA Isaiah steering committee will include representatives from each designated group including, but not limited to; Direct Services, Advocacy, Angel Network, Anshei Isaiah, Women of Isaiah, and others engaged in social action efforts on behalf of the congregation, and meet throughout each year to review needs and coordinate goals. ViA Isaiah goals to be presented, and discussed annually to the Board of Directors. In support of the above and the other Isaiah 2020 initiatives, implement an online community to address current and future social action needs to expand reach and engagement.
Funding our Future: Ensuring Fiscal Viability
Initiate a thorough review of current funding, financial planning & budgeting processes to establish a stable means of covering annual expenses while meeting congregational needs in preparation of the next budget cycle. Actively participate in/learn from the URJ Communities of Practice: Reimagining Financial Support.
At the September 2015 board meeting, the board agreed to create steering committees for each initiative. These teams will define specific actions for the coming year. Interested in getting involved?
We thank the Isaiah 2020 strategic direction committee, led by our board vice president Tony Crea, for making planning for the future of Temple Isaiah a top priority this past year: Julie Bell, Peter Bluford, Jen Boxerman, Sue Adler-Bressler, Rabbi Roberto D. Graetz, Dan Greenberg, Lisa Hirsch, Cantor Leigh Korn, Joanne Peterson, Casey Sasner, and Rabbi Judy Shanks.
We also thank the census committee of member volunteers and staff who dedicated months of work to helping us collect valuable data on our community: Peter Bluford, Jack Bookbinder, Jen Boxerman, Jon Kalan and Pat Reyes.