Stepping Forward Together is a call to action for strategic thinking in synagogue and other religious community planning. At a time of external turmoil affecting every community, leaders need to look beyond short-term fixes to focus on sustainable strategy.
Without sidestepping tough realities, positive leaders can maintain focus on their communal vision while following a careful plan to implement change. Expert leadership consultant Robert Leventhal presents a step-by-step guide to stepping forward into that strategic change. Annotated guides explain how to form a committee, develop a planning calendar, gather and analyze input, and develop a vision for the future. Leventhal guides readers through a campaign for expanding leadership capacity by forming a planning committee and task forces. He uses real-life cases to illustrate the struggles and successes of strategic planning.
An essential volume for all religious community leaders in and outside the Jewish faith, Stepping Forward Together welcomes readers into a vigorous method of planning to achieve unparalleled community growth.
Robert Leventhal is the Leadership Director for the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism (USCJ). He is a trained leadership consultant and facilitates and directs over twenty-five workshops with professional and volunteer leaders rabbinical leaders to strengthen their synagogue by preparing a more effective strategic plan. He is the lead author of all of USCJ’s Sulam leadership training materials.
We are living in a moment of rapid, profound change, that is impacting every aspect of life, including our religious, spiritual lives. Synagogues, as all sacred communities, are struggling to respond with meaning. In such an environment, strategic thinking, planning and implementation is needed more than ever. This book is just what is needed to help synagogue leaders “step forward” into the future, and there is no one better to be our guide than Bob Leventhal.
For several decades, Bob Leventhal has helped synagogues across North America become more vibrant, forward looking institutions. In Stepping Forward Together we have the gift of Bob’s accumulated wisdom from all his work in the field. Re-tooling institutions that have been around for 50-100 years is not an easy task, but this new book provides concrete suggestions about how to be planful and how to make it happen.
As a person who studies organization and community change processes, I would have to say Bob Leventhal’s book delivers a lot more than the title promises. This book is good for the Jews, for sure, but Leventhal’s methods could help any system where broad-based engagement and commitment are the keys to success. It’s also a fine manual on how to be the kind of leader who builds participation. Leventhal supplements guiding concepts of organizational change with a step-by step process for participants—replete with agendas, group guidance, checklists, surveys, and examples of how to do it right at each point, and what can go wrong if you don’t. It is also a good read! Leventhal is an engaging storyteller and the text comes alive via accounts of real congregations and through the invocation of Jewish history and ancient wisdom.
Bob Leventhal’s book is a gift. Synagogues are naturally reactive—focused on present worries or, worse, on past glories. To thrive, to be faithful, they need to be reflective—focused on the purpose and possibilities of the future. The shift from reactive to reflective requires both leadership and spiritual disciplines. It calls for risk. In this book Bob provides the tools, steps and expansive experience that will help. A gift indeed.
Following Bob Leventhal's strategic planning method, our congregation of more than 800 families engaged hundreds of members in creating a plan that reflected their hopes to be inspired, involved, and fulfilled as congregants. Great thanks to Bob for creating this practical, step-by-step planning solution!