What do the Chair and the Board actually do?
As we approach this year’s AGM on May 19th, I thought it may be helpful to tell you how the board is made up and what it actually does in the hope that new people may be interested in joining the board or the executive at some point in the future.
Firstly, we no longer have a Board of Management of the synagogue. The US bye laws have changed and it is now known as the Synagogue Council. We have 6 male and 6 female members of the Synagogue Council although we have this year co-opted more members to join as we were lucky enough to have more people who want to be involved and the US bye laws allow for up to 12 male and female members. We also have seven Honorary Officers, also known as the Executive. We have three wardens, Mark Sheinfeld, Daniel Shaw and Ron Ben Simon, two vice chairs, Marc Rubenstein and Greg Swimer, our Financial Representative, Sam Clarke as well as the Chair, me. We have also had a women’s officer for the past two years, which hasn’t been an executive position but the US by laws have now made it possible for this position to be part of the Executive from this year’s AGM, an option which we have decided to take.
The members of the council generally each take on a portfolio and are responsible for leading any other volunteers in that area. We try as far as possible to avoid being just a talking shop, but instead, a team of people who between us engage others and make sure that everything that needs to happen to make this a vibrant and dynamic community does happen. If you’re not sure who does what – you can see the list of portfolios here.
We also have professionals working with us mainly part time in certain areas. Firstly, of course the Rabbi, leading us in religious, spiritual and pastoral matters, Josh Gaventa our youth director, Beth Franks our events coordinator, Beverley Geissing our welfare coordinator and Jo Cowen our administrator.
People often write to me about a particular area to ask a question or make a comment and I will usually pass them on to the volunteer or professional leading in that area. I run my own business, have three children and a dog, I’m very flattered that many members also think I could run the cheder, youth activities, women’s activities, education activities, events, security, catering etc etc. but of course I couldn’t possibly. So if you have a query in those areas – please check who the relevant person is and contact them in the first place.
My main role is to work with the Rabbi as his line manager and with our events coordinator Beth as her line manager as well as being available for support and advice if needed to all the other council members in their particular areas. People often ask me how much time being Chair takes up, one person even asked me if I work full time as Chair! That’s difficult to answer as every week is different. Most weeks I have at least one meeting with the Rabbi, Beth, the Exec or others and I spend a few hours each week on other emails – but it really isn’t a full time job or hugely time consuming (most of the time). The role is what you make it, and for me it only works if I delegate and prioritise, I can’t do everything and nor do I want to.
The other crucial people on the team are the wardens who work closely with the Rabbi and our women’s officer, Helen Style to plan all services for Shabbat and Chagim and serve as part of the Executive team along with our Financial Rep and the two vice chairs. Greg and Marc chair the building committee and are driving that project, a huge role which involves liaising with the community, the US and the various expert professionals involved with the plans as well as fundraising for the project.
So, that’s what it’s all about, if you have an interest in any area of shul life and want to get more involved, we’d love to have you along. It’s a rewarding role, where you can really feel you’re making a difference and working to make sure our community can provide caring support, cultural, spiritual, religious and educational events and social action projects to our wider community.
Nomination papers will be coming out soon to all members, if you’d like a role then just have three members nominate you following the instructions on the nomination form.