Democracy at Work

by Roselyn Allen, April 29, 2021

The old maxim goes that if you put two Jews together to discuss politics you’ll have at least three opinions. As a people, we have never been afraid to argue – even with ourselves. In Fiddler on the Roof, each time Tevye must decide what to do about the future of his daughters he says “on the other hand…” to himself, several times.

As the AGM approaches, I am very proud of Solel’s decision making process, borne out of the idea that the kehillah, the community and its members – the b’nei ha’ir (literally children of the city) is the Jewish decision-making body. At the creation of this system, in the Second Temple era, this body was responsible for funding and supervising various areas of government.

The AGM allows Solel’s membership to have a voice in what we will do moving forward into our next fiscal year including our Executive and Board Members. The Talmud describes shiv’ahtovei ha’ir, the seven leaders of the town whom the community appoints to oversee its affairs. Though our board is larger than seven, it is the voice of every member of the synagogue that allows us to make decisions on behalf of them. The purpose of assembling a board of governors is because having to assemble the entire community would be each time there’s a question affecting the entire kehillah would be too cumbersome.

The AGM is, importantly, your chance to have your individual voice heard about budget and the way we move Solel forward into the future. It is also a way for us to reflect on the decisions we have made in the past year. This doesn’t mean your individual voice won’t be heard throughout the year as your board members are happy to hear your ideas and opinions (even if you have more than one) and there are standing and ad hoc committees to which everyone can contribute individually.

I have discussed over and over in my articles how the COVID19 pandemic has affected our synagogue and how we have accomplished so much despite the changing landscape, and even because of it. Last year’s AGM was postponed because we weren’t certain how we could include everyone in a Zoom meeting and have it be as meaningful as a live and in person discussion. But we pulled it off. Even those who weren’t comfortable online were able to have their voice heard through proxy. And now that we’re all Zoom mavens, I’m sure the conversation will be robust, as it is at the executive, board and committee levels all year.

Filed under: President's Message

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