Rethinking Leadership for Gender Equity

By Hillary Gardenswartz

In so many areas of society, the pandemic uncovered the inequity and lack of balance that was always there. If we simply sat back now, after this “reveal,” and merely hoped things change, we would be forsaking our Jewish values. Instead, through a series of workshops, The Jewish Education Project is working to create change at the leadership levels in congregations.

Thanks to the SRE Network, we invite all congregational educators, youth professionals, clergy, executive directors, lay leaders, and other synagogue professionals at no cost to be a part of a learning series, Rethinking Leadership for Gender Equity, on January 13, January 28, and February 11 (all 10:00am – noon ET).

Led by Master Facilitator Rabbi Mary Zamore, Executive Director of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, we’ll explore questions related to power, equity, communication, and other factors that inform work experiences. We’ll consider how different forces shape your workplace, interactions with colleagues, and your own identity.  

Rabbi Zamore will draw connections throughout and between each workshop, which will be led by individual experts in their field. Our facilitators will ask participants to think about big-picture, systemic questions, and their day-to-day practice. By addressing both of these areas, participants will take away both theory and practical skills that can be implemented in the workplace, including:

·       Reflecting on experiences as a member of a congregational team 

·       Identifying some of the ways gender influences team dynamics 

·       Recognizing the ways that power and gender are part of the congregational structure 

·       Making individual and group moves that promote equity in the congregation 

·       Considering how gender and education are linked 

We also know that these takeaways are more likely to lead to on-the-ground change if a cohort of leaders from the same congregation are poised to act on them. With this in mind, beyond individual congregation representatives, we hope that teams of congregational leaders join for this professional development:

Wednesday, January 13th: Power – facilitated by Fran Sepler

·       What knowledge and awareness do we need about ourselves and our organizations as we enter conversations about leadership?

·       What systemic/structural systems signal messages about power?

·       What kinds of power structures exist at my synagogue, and between which groups?

Thursday, January 28th: Communication and Negotiation – facilitated by Prof. Andrea Schneider

·       How do you experience communication with your colleagues?

·       Skills on how to better negotiate

·       Equity in the congregational space

·       How does negotiating for yourself affect your team?

Thursday, February 11th:  Strategizing for a Different Future facilitated by Dr. Elana Stein Hain

·       How might “our tradition” inform how we have deep and tough conversations?

·       How has your thinking about leadership changed?

·       What does a transformed, more equitable landscape look like?

·       How do you bring these skills, resources, awareness, etc. into your workplace?

We need to do more work to create the change that we know is needed. From educational offerings, to lifecycle moments, to places of gathering, and more, congregations continue to make up the fabric of many of our communities. We hope congregational leadership joins these workshops and is part of the change.

Hillary Gardenswartz is Senior Project Manager of the Generation Now Fellowship for The Jewish Education Project. Participants in the workshop series commit to attending all three sessions when registering.