CTE Strategic Plan

The Strategic Plan of

Congregation Torat El

Table of Contents


  I.       Introduction. 1


  A.     Committee Purpose. 1


  B.     Drafting Process. 2


  1.      Participants and Their Roles. 2


  II.      Controlling Principles – Values, Vision, and Mission.3


  III.         Current Setting – Where we are.4


  A.     Membership. 4


  1.      Current Breakdown. 4


  2.      Trends. 5


  B.     Financial6


  1.      Current Budget6


  2.      Endowments/Funds. 6


  3.      Income Sources. 6


  4.      Expenses. 7


  5.      Trends. 7


  C.          Current Ritual Practices. 8


  D.          Current Governance. 8


  E.     Communication. 9


  F.     Current Functions/Services Provided. 9


  G.         Current Staffing.11


  1.      Composition.11


  2.      Contracts and Job Responsibility. 11


  H.          Community Information/Demographics.12


  IV.         SWOT Summary. 13


  V.     Recommendations/Goals – Where we want to go.13


  A.     Membership. 13


  1.      Stability. 13


  2.      Growth. 14


  3.      Categories. 14


  B.     Financial15


  1.      Stability. 15


  2.      Fundraising. 15


  3.      Dues/Contributions from Members. 15


  4.      Other Income. 16


  5.      Use of Endowment(s). 16


  6.      Cost Controls. 17


  C.          Governance. 17


  1.      Principles of Governance. 17


  2.      Leadership Development18


  3.      Communication within Governance Structure. 18


  D.          Communications within the Congregation.19


  E.     Staffing. 19


  F.     Accountability. 20


  G.         Continuity. 20


  H.          Functions/Services Provided.21


  VI.         Action Plans – How we will get there.21


  VII.       Appendices. 22


  A.     Committee Membership. 22


  B.     Survey Forms and Survey Summaries. 22


  C.          Tabulated Membership Data. 22


  D.          Census Summary Information and Other Demographic Data. 22


  E.     Recent Budgets. 22


  F.     Proposed Policy on Use of Endowment Funds. 22


  G.         Summary of Dedicated Funds. 22


  H.          Current Dues Schedule. 22


  I.       Constitution and Unification Agreement22


  J.      Recent Event Calendars. 22


  K.     SWOT Summaries. 22


  L.      Mission Statement, Statement of Values, and Vision Statement22


  M.         Focused List of Current Goals, Larger List of Considered Goals. 22


  N.          Summary of Board of Trustees Values Exercise, Wordle of Values. 22






I.              Introduction


The Strategic Plan is intended to guide Congregation Torat El in the setting of priorities, goals, and policies.  As discussed below, the Strategic Plan was developed over a two year period with involvement of the Congregation, the Board of Trustees and the Congregation’s officers with input from our clergy and staff. 


The Strategic Plan is not intended to be a static document.  As the Strategic Plan is implemented over the coming months and years, the Strategic Planning process will continue resulting in updates and revisions.  While certain core elements, such as the statement of the Congregation’s Mission, Vision and Values are not expected to be revised or revisited frequently, the assessment of the Congregation’s needs and the identification of goals should be revisited every two to three years.  




A.           Committee Purpose


The creation of Congregation Torat El as a new entity provided both the opportunity and need for an assessment of where the Congregation views itself currently and how the Congregation hopes to evolve going forward.  As described below the Strategic Planning Process was a multi-faceted, multi-phased effort involving input from across the Congregation.  The Strategic Planning Committee was tasked to coordinate the collection of input and information, present proposed language to the Board of Trustees, and then present the revised language to our Congregation.  Moving forward the Strategic Planning Committee will monitor the achievement of the Goals, proposed revisions to those Goals as needed, and recommend additional Goals as appropriate.  The committee members are listed in Appendix A.






B.           Drafting Process


1.            Participants and Their Roles


a.            Board of Trustees


Under the Constitution of Congregation Torat El, the BOT has the responsibility of establishing the priorities and policies for the Congregation.  As representatives of the Congregation, the BOT provided direction to the Strategic Planning Committee’s work and established the basis for the statement of Values Mission, Vision, and Goals that were developed.  Each element of the Strategic Plan was presented to and then approved by the BOT.


A series of workshops were held with the BOT.  In May 2010 the Board of Trustees participated in a workshop that focused on the key values of the Congregation.  A second workshop was held in the summer of 2010 which focused on potential goals and an assessment of Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats, and Opportunities.




b.            Congregation


The Congregation’s membership provided input in the form of responses to survey questions and focus group meetings.  The survey and a summary of the Congregation’s responses can be found in Appendix B.  The responses to the survey were provided by a generally representative cross-section of the membership with the notable exception of families of religious school students.  Focus groups were scheduled on two Sunday mornings in the spring of 2012 during religious school to obtain input from parent members with children in the Religious School.  Input during the focus group included many of the same responses as those provided by those responding to the survey, with additional emphasis on programming focused on young families, opportunities for social and education programming at members’ homes, and additional programming for parents during Sunday mornings when the Religious School is in session.




c.            Strategic Planning Committee


The Strategic Planning Committee assimilated the input from the BOT and the Congregation.  Based on the input from the BOT and the Congregation, the Strategic Planning Committee prepared drafts of the key elements of the Strategic Plan – the Mission Statement, the Vision Statement, the statement of Values and later the Goals.  Each draft was presented to the BOT and commented upon by the BOT.  Based on those comments, the respective drafts were revised and then approved by the BOT.




II.            Controlling Principles – Values, Vision, and Mission.


As we began this process it was clear to us that we had to make sure to create a direction that was strategic, intentional, and based on a set of shared values as a congregation. Rabbi Schonbrun, in conjunction with the President, Executive Board, and the Strategic Planning Committee led the Board through a series of exercises and discussions over the course of a year and a half to develop this foundation. This process was based on the following definitions and terms**:


Values:  Your values are what you stand for.




Vision: Your vision is your dreams for your community. A picture of what the world looks like when your community is in line with your values.


Mission: Your Mission consists of the activities that you will do to turn your values into your vision. It is how you will move forward from where you are today to how things look in your vision.


**Source: Nina Lieberman, School of Nonprofit Management, AJU




Our mission, values, and vision are listed in Appendix L.






The mission statement that we developed reads:


We are a Community Building Relationships


with God, Judaism, and each other;


through prayer, study, discussion, and action; and


guided by Torah, our traditions, those who came before us and our vision for the future.




III.           Current Setting – Where we are.


A.           Membership


1.            Current Breakdown


Current number of membership units as of December 2012, was 529.   While a complete set of data was not available to the Strategic Planning Committee, a generally representative set of data was available (see Appendix C).  Since the data was not complete, the Strategic Planning Committee used the data to draw qualitative conclusions not for precise quantitative conclusions.  In that context the Strategic Planning Committee was able to draw the following conclusions:




  A significant portion of the membership is comprised of member units that are exempt from paying dues (B’nai Shalom legacy members and members over the age of 86) and members in categories for which the dues are well below the amounts paid by the “Family” and “Couples” dues categories. 




  The core membership base is very stable.  Most of the membership have been members for decades with the average length of membership exceeding 25 years.




  Our congregation includes very few member units with both members under the age of 40.  Other than children, there are approximately as many members over the age of 90 as there are members under 40.




  Neither of the heritage congregations was effective in recent years in retaining younger families.




2.            Trends


Overall, the population growth of the Greater Ocean area is relatively stagnant.  Based on the population information available (see Appendix D) and anecdotal observations, the Ashkenazic Jewish population of the Greater Ocean area is relatively stagnant.  Nonetheless, it is believed that there are a considerable number of unaffiliated Ashekenazic Jews in the Greater Ocean area. 


CTE membership has been decreasing slightly since the merger.  A number of factors have lead to the decline, including, as noted, a lack of new young family members.  Former members have moved away from the area (including a number of families impacted by the closure of Fort Monmouth), with the bulk of the remaining decline reflected by members who either became unaffiliated or are joining other congregations.  Both heritage congregations membership roles had included a significant number of member units on their respective roles who had not been dues paying members for many years.   Finally, we are also facing the challenges that are generally reflective of the Conservative movement as well as the Reform movement as people choose not to affiliate with institutional Judaism. This trend is particularly true among the younger Jewish demographic in America.




A summary of the membership losses are included in Appendix C.




B.           Financial


1.            Current Budget


A copy of the budgets from the most recent 3 years including the budget for the 2012-13 year (through June 30, 2013) are included in Appendix E.


2.            Endowments/Funds  


The Congregation currently has an endowment of funds in the amount of $630,497.52.  The withdrawal of moneys from the endowment is proposed to be controlled by the policies set forth in the proposed amendment to the Constitution set forth in Appendix F.  An additional $109,401.47 is held in the Wiser Fund which is dedicated solely for the benefit of the certain operations of the Religious School.  Disbursements from The Wiser fund (which are subject to specific guidelines of the Endowment) are managed through the supervision of the Education Committee.


The Congregation also has a series of specific funds dedicated to particular purposes.  A list of those funds and the balances as of April 30, 2013 is provided in Appendix G.




3.            Income Sources


a.            Dues


The Congregation currently has 6 dues categories.  A list of the current dues structure is provided in Appendix H.  The Congregation currently and historically has provided financial relief in the form of dues reduction on an as-needed basis for members with a financial need.  Revenue from dues has provided the majority of the Congregation’s income for a number of years.


b.            Fundraising


Fundraising outside of dues has been the other primary source of revenue.  Fundraising has historically taken a number of forms.  The annual Kol Nidre appeal has, on average, been the largest single fundraising event.  Periodic fundraising activities have been used to provide sources of revenue.  Most recently, events have been scheduled with funding from the B’nai Shalom Beth El Foundation providing a number of significant revenues.  Fundraising also continues in the form of contribution to dedicated funds.


c.            Others


Revenues have been periodically raised through rental income for rental of portions of the Monmouth Road facility when not in use by the Congregation.  Such facility rentals have not remained consistent for longer than a few years.  Revenues are also derived from fees paid for use of the facility by Congregants.  Finally, significant revenues have been obtained from “one time” transactions, particularly the sale of the Roseld Avenue facility. 


4.            Expenses


The primary component of the Congregation’s expenses is comprised of salary and benefits for staff.  The bulk of the remainder of the ordinary expenses relates to facility operations particularly utilities, insurance coverage, and office supplies.   The facility, constructed in 1974, continues to require repairs and maintenance as components reach the end of their expected useful life.  In recent years the budget has had limited or no money designated for new programs and committee work.  


5.            Trends


Fundraising has decreased in general, particularly in the context of Kol Nidre appeal.  The percentage of income from dues has continued to increase.  Recently the percentage of members seeking dues relief has increased.  Efforts to reduce expenses have had some success, however, the bulk of the remaining expenses are relatively fixed.  As noted above, expenses for programs have been severely limited.




C.           Current Ritual Practices


The Congregation is a member of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and our ritual practices conform to those of the Conservative movement.  Ritual practices are established by the Board of Trustees on recommendations of the Ritual Committee working under the guidance of and in consultation with the clergy.  The Rabbi remains the Mara D’Atra (master of issues relating to Halacha — Jewish law) for the Congregation as documented in the employment agreement between the Rabbi and the Congregation.   There is limited communication to the Congregation of all of our ritual policies and the reasons therefore.


D.           Current Governance


Under our Constitution, the Congregation retains ultimate authority over the direction and disposition of the assets of the Congregation.  However, with the exception of the merger or dissolution of the Congregation, the Congregation’s voting authority is vested in the Board of Trustees.  Committees are generally chaired by a Board member as selected by the Congregation President.  Coordination of the efforts of the Board of Trustees and the various working Committees is vested in the Executive Committee.  The Executive Committee is comprised of the Temple’s Officers.  Currently, the Officers are comprised of the President, the First Vice-President, the Treasurer , the Secretary and five (5) Vice-Presidents.  The Board and the Officers are selected by the Nominating Committee chaired by the immediate Past President.  The composition of the Nominating Committee is established under the Constitution. 


The Board of Trustees is currently comprised of 24 Trustees (allocated in 3 sets of staggered terms), the Executive Board, representatives of the Sisterhood, the Men’s Club, and the Past Presidents’ Counsel.  A 60% quorum is needed to transact Board business.  Board meetings are held monthly (except during the summer) and are generally open to the public except for closed sessions involving highly confidential matters such as personnel decisions.


Day to day operations are conducted by the Congregation’s staff in coordination with the Officers.  The staff includes the Clergy (currently a full-time Rabbi and full-time Cantor), a full-time Executive Director, the Educational Director, two full time office/clerical staff, and janitorial staff supplemented by contractors for landscaping, snow removal, and significant maintenance and repairs.


E.           Communication


The primary current mechanisms for communication to the Congregation are the monthly bulletin (combined for July and August), mailings for specific events, and postings on the Congregation’s website, www.torat-el.org.  Most events are listed on the Congregation’s calendar (published in the monthly bulletin and posted on the website).  These communications are supplemented by e-mail blasts to the Congregation, including weekly messages from the Rabbi (generally on Tuesdays) and from the Executive Director (generally on Thursdays); voice message by means of automated calls; and announcements at Services (printed and oral).


Congregational meetings are held biannually (June and December) during which the congregation is briefed on new initiatives, the status of the Congregation’s finances, and other pertinent matters.  Congregational meetings also include question and answer periods.  




F.            Current Functions/Services Provided


Tefilah:  The Congregation provides daily morning and evening minyan services (except Saturday and Sunday nights), Erev Shabbat and Shabbat morning services, High Holy Day services, as well as services for all major Jewish holidays and festivals.


Life Cycle Events.  Our Clergy are available to officiate at weddings and funerals for members.  Shiva minyanim are lead by our Clergy and by trained lay members. 


Adult Education.  A variety of education programs are provided for adult members ranging from lecture/discussion series, scholar-in-residence programs, and special guest lectures.


Religious School.   Classes for students in Pre-Kindergarten (90 minutes), Kindergarten  through 2nd Grade  (2.5 hours)  are held on Sunday mornings every week.  Student in 3rd Grade through 7th Grade meet for classes twice a week (Wednesday for 2 hours and Sunday for 2.5 hours) and are required to attend Shabbat Services based on a frequency schedule that increases each year.  The Seventh Grade class has a once a month “mitzvah project” component that usually involves an off site special program once a month. Hebrew High school classes are provided once a week for 2 hours.


Affiliates and Youth Groups.  The Congregation has active affiliates — Men’s Club, Sisterhood, and Hazak (over 55), and Youth Groups — USY – (Grades 9-12) and Kadima (Grades 6-8).   The affiliates are self-regulating with independent finances and programming and are not funded from our budget.  Membership is open to individuals who are not members of the Congregation. 


Sisterhood and Men’s Club directly support many recurring Congregation activities including organizing and sponsoring events, building of the Sukkah (Men’s Club), and direct monetary contributions to fund certain activities.  The Congregation provides support to the Affiliates and Youth Groups in the form of space, administration and access to membership for communications.  The Youth Groups are under the direction of the Youth Coordinator and funded through a combination of dues, the Congregation’s budget, and event specific fees.


Social Events: Activities focused on “fun-raising” have been held from time to time.  The bulk of these events are organized by the Affiliates, the Youth Groups, and, in conjunction with Holidays and Holy Days by various Congregation committees.  Examples are listed in the copies of recent event calendars attached (see Appendix J).


Pastoral – Chesed: A key function of the Congregation is providing support to members during critical life cycle events, most notably (but not exclusively) relating to illness and end of life.  The Congregation provides support to members in form of visitation and contact (mostly if not exclusively currently performed by the Rabbi), meals, cards, and flowers (supplied by and through the Chesed committee and Sisterhood).


Social Action: In recent years the Congregation’s involvement in Social Action has included a number of food drives and involvement in “Mitzvah Day” organized by the local Jewish Federation of Monmouth County.  Each B’nai Mitzvah is required to undertake a “Mitzvah Project” some of which involve aspects of social action.


G.           Current Staffing.


1.            Composition.


The staff is comprised of:


– the Clergy (currently a full-time Rabbi and full-time Cantor);


  the office staff (currently a full-time Executive Director, full-time Bookkeeper, and a full-time Clerk/Receptionist;


  the Religious School Staff (coordinated by a part-time Principal and part-time teachers (numbers vary from year to year);


  the Janitorial Staff (at various times comprised of a combination of full-time and part-time employees)


  a part-time Youth Group Director


  Independent Contractors performing various maintenance, landscaping, snow removal and repair services.




2.            Contracts and Job Responsibility


Currently only the Clergy have written contracts.  Job descriptions have been or are being developed for the office staff.  The activities of the Religious School staff are established by the Religious School committee and the Principal.  The Executive Director establishes the work responsibilities of the office staff, janitorial staff, and the independent contractors in coordination with Buildings/Grounds committee as relevant.  The activities of the Youth Group Coordinator are coordinated by the Youth Group committee (which is currently understaffed).  However, the Board of Trustees retains the authority for establishing the job descriptions and responsibilities of all staffing.  Hiring and firing of the office staff and the janitorial staff is the responsibility of the Executive Director in consultation of the President and with the Executive Board as deemed necessary by the President.  All other hiring and firing responsibility for all other staff, including independent contractors, rests with the Board of Trustees.












H.           Community Information/Demographics.


The Congregation draws membership and participants generally from the Central portion of Eastern Monmouth County.  As noted in Appendix C, the bulk of the membership resides in communities in the immediate vicinity of the synagogue (Ocean Township (including the various neighborhoods of Ocean Township – Wayside, Wannamassa, Oakhurst, West Deal), West Long Branch, Eatontown, Long Branch (including Elberon), Monmouth Beach, Tinton Falls, Allenhurst, Interlaken, Neptune and Wall).  The Congregation also draws membership and participation from other communities in Eastern Monmouth County.  This area is referred to below as the “Served Communities.”   


Overall, the Served Communities can be described as predominated by single family housing developments with some multi-family housing.  The population (with the exception of portions of the City of Long Branch and City of Asbury Park) are predominately Caucasian and have income levels above to well above the national and state averages.  The overall population growth in the Served Communities was robust in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, but more recently limited or flat.  Generally, population is not expected to grow significantly in the next decades as the amount of undeveloped land is relatively small.


The Jewish population of the Served Communities has seen limited growth in recent decades.  Although no recent data was identified on the topic, it is generally understood that the bulk of the growth of the Jewish population in recent years has been amongst Jews raised in the Sephardic community/tradition.  In contrast, the growth of the Jewish population amongst Jews raised in the Ashkenazic community/tradition has been limited or flat.  It is expected that these trends will continue in the next decades.  The bulk of the Congregation is comprised of members raised in the Ashkenazic community/tradition.


As is generally typical for populations with limited or no growth, the age distribution for the Served Communities is continuing to skew towards an older population.




IV.          SWOT Summary


A session was held with the Board of Trustees to identify a list of goals, key aspects for the Congregation’s Mission.  A summary of the values exercise is provided in Appendix N.


As an initial effort, the Board conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis.  A summary of the SWOT analysis is provided in Appendix K.   


The information relating to goals and Mission were incorporated into the Mission Statement above and the Goals discussed below and list in Appendix L.


V.           Recommendations/Goals – Where we want to go.


A.           Membership


1.            Stability


A substantial majority of the Congregation have been members for decades when membership in the heritage congregations is included.  While there has been a slow attrition of members over the past years, overall, the Congregation has a stable membership base, albeit slowly decreasing.  Factors impacting loss of members include the closing of Fort Monmouth, lack of continued interest for families once all of the children have become B’nai Mitzvah, movement to other congregations (chiefly Chabad and Beth Miriam), and mortality.


Focus:  Retaining existing members was recognized by the Board of Trustees as an important component of future success of the Congregation.


2.            Growth


Over the past years, the heritage Congregations have not been effective in their respective efforts to attract new members, particularly younger members.  The Strategic Planning Committee identified that the future plans for the Congregation could take one of two basic paths:  (a) the Congregation will attract new members, particularly families with young children; or (b) the number of members would continue to gradually decrease.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: The Board of Trustees approved the Strategic Planning Committee’s recommendation to pursue “(a)” – “the growth path”.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: The Board of Trustees identified the attraction of families with young children as a critically important goal.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: The Board of Trustees also identified the attraction of unaffiliated Jews, including members of the L,G,B,T community, as an important goal.




3.            Categories


The Strategic Planning Committee identified the current number of member “categories” as unnecessary.  The Board of Trustees accepted the recommendation that dues categories be reduced to the following categories of “full” members who would have all benefits (High Holy Day tickets, life cycle events):  Family. Single, and Exempt (B’nai Shalom legacy members and members over the age set by the Board of Trustees – currently 86 ).  A category of Affiliate would be retained for those seeking to remain strongly connected to the Congregation but no longer live in the area.  Affiliates are not entitled to High Holy Day tickets or to have the Congregation’s clergy officiate at life cycle events. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: The existing categories should be phased down over time to three full member categories: family, single, special (exempt). We should also re-examine who falls under the exempt category.


B.           Financial


1.            Stability


The merger of the heritage congregations allowed for the total elimination of the debt that each congregation had accumulated, a modest endowment, and a certain degree of cost savings.  However, the recent economic downturn and a significant drop-off in non-dues giving has resulted in persistent budget deficits. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: A critical goal is to establish financial stability so that endowment funds are not depleted or new debt accrued.


2.            Fundraising


Fundraising is critical to reducing dependence on dues and for establishing financial stability.  Recent fundraising has not been part of a concerted and focused fundraising plan and has therefore produced limited success.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: A fundraising program needs to be developed that provides for a detailed program focusing on a comprehensive and strategic plan for soliciting giving.


3.            Dues/Contributions from Members


As noted above, the Congregation’s income has become increasingly dependent upon the income from dues while the economy has simultaneously created economic challenges for many of our members.   Dues increases have occurred as occasional “jumps” without direct correlation to revenue requirements.  Overall, our dues are at or below other similar Congregations in the region.  The Congregation members have not been sufficiently informed as to the Congregation’s finances so as to create a sense of “ownership”.  Non-dues contributions have decreased.  In particular, non-dues contributions (Kol Nidre appeal and general fundraising) from the members in the “exempt” category (B’nai Shalom, over 86) have been limited compared to the rest of the membership.  Finally, the dues categories bear little relationship to either the financial needs of the Congregation or the Congregation’s goals relating to attracting new members. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: As discussed in Section A.3. above, the number of dues categories needs to be reduced.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: A more concerted effort needs to be made to communicate details of the Congregation’s finances to the membership.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: Dues increases should occur annually in correlation to income needs rather than as occasional “jumps.”


Recommendation, Target or Goal: A concerted effort to increase non-dues contributions is needed, particularly from members who are exempt from dues requirements.


4.            Other Income


Additional income has generally been in the form of rental income from unaffiliated groups (exercise classes, facility rentals for parties, kitchen rentals).  No long-term tenants or rental agreements have been in place.  Accordingly, references to other income for budgeting purposes have been based on assumptions of continued income rather than on known sources. 


Overall, other than consideration to greater publicity that space is available, the Strategic Planning Committee has no recommendations regarding other income.


5.            Use of Endowment(s)


Prior to the merger and the sale of the Roseld facility, the only endowed funds were the Wiser fund (dedicated to support of the Religious School) and the former Temple Beth Torah Endowment (controlled by an independent committee).  With the advent of the merger and the sale of the Roseld facility in particular, the Congregation now has endowed funds in excess of $500,000.  The management of the investment of those funds remains within the responsibility of the Endowment Committee which reports to the Board of Trustees and is appointed by the President.  The Endowment Committee, however, has no control over the use of the funds.  The use of the funds (other than the Wiser Fund dedicated to support of the Religious School) is the subject of a set of policies adopted by the Board of Trustees, see Appendix F. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal:  All endowment funds should be brought under the supervision of the Board of Trustees and the current policy controlling use of the endowment funds or a revised version thereof should be formally adopted as an Amendment to the Congregation’s Constitution.


6.            Cost Controls


The primary method of cost control is the development and approval of the annual Budget by the Board of Trustees.  That control is enforced by control of payments of invoices.  Payment of invoices, require two signatures from the authorized signers (currently the Temple President, Treasurer and Executive Director) and are coordinated through the Executive Director and the Bookkeeper.  Such payments are authorized in the context of falling within the Budget (as approved by the Board of Trustees), expenditures otherwise approved by the Executive Board (for purchases less than $5,000) or the Board of Trustees.  Additional payments, however, are currently made in the context of payments from budgets of specific events.   Those budgets currently are not always the subject to review or approval of the Board of Trustees or the Executive Board. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: Additional controls should be put in place relating to budgets of specific events to the extent those budgets are not part of the current budget.  Recommendation, Target or Goal: Consideration should be given to developing some form of audit process (which may or may not be by an outside consultant). 


C.           Governance


1.            Principles of Governance


While primary authority is vested in the Congregation’s membership, policy is established by the Board of Trustees and implemented by the Executive Board and the Congregation’s staff.   Events and many of the day-to-day operations are planned through Committees subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees.  Supervision of employees (including the hiring and firing) is vested in the Board of Trustees and the Executive Board.


Recommendation, Target or Goal:  Responsibilities of Officers, of Board Members and of Committee or Task Force members should be clearly identified and reviewed as each group initiates their work or at the beginning of each program year (June). 


2.            Leadership Development


Congregation Torat El currently does not have any formal leadership development program.  Some members have participated in various USCJ training programs and a group of members are currently participating in a USCJ Sulam program designed for potential leaders.  Leadership development is conducted on a person-to-person basis through peer guidance.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: A more concerted program of leadership development is necessary and desirable.


3.            Communication within Governance Structure


There is a table of organization within the governance structure under which each committee reports to a specific member of the Executive Board.  The Executive Board meets monthly (usually two weeks in advance of each meeting of the Board of Trustees) and communicates frequently by e-mail and by phone as necessary to coordinate activities and identify issues to be raised to the Board of Trustees.  Any committee reports that are generated each month are transmitted to the Board of Trustees in advance of each monthly Board of Trustees meeting.  In general, committee reports are not discussed at each Board of Trustees meeting unless there is an action item to be addressed in the form of approval of an expenditure requiring Board approval or in the form of a statement of policy.  Board of Trustees members are expected to review such reports and may raise a question regarding any report subject to the discretion of the President (or the person substituting for the President) as the presiding officer of the Board of Trustees. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: Improvement is needed in creating a more detailed system of communication within the Governance Structure.


Recommendation, Target or Goal:  Specifically, committee reports and minutes of Board of Trustees meetings should be accessible to Board members online as part of the Congregation’s website.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: It is also imperative that we create a mechanism to help our board members and committee members develop a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in the organizational chart of the congregation.


D.           Communications within the Congregation.


Overall, communications relating to events appears to be successful for the vast majority of those events.


Communications relating to the Congregation’s policies and finances, however, may not have resulted in a reasonable understanding amongst the Congregation of those issues.  Further, it is not clear that the Congregation membership has an understanding of the work being undertaken by Committees, the Board of Trustees, and the Executive Board.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: The availability of committee reports and minutes of Board of Trustees meetings should be broadened. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: Consideration should be given to providing some form of minutes of the Executive Board to the Congregation in general.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: A more detailed summary of the Congregation’s activities, finances, work of committees, affiliates, and staff responsibilities should be provided in a written format provided to the entire Congregation (e.g., distributed at High Holy Day Services).


E.           Staffing


Recommendation, Target or Goal: In light of the retirement of Cantor, the staffing needs of the Congregation need to be fully reassessed in-line with the needs identified in this report and the goals described below. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: The assessment of staffing needs to include a holistic review of the overall needs of the Congregation without focus solely on how staff responsibilities are currently allocated.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: Additional staffing support is needed for programming in general and, in particular, programming aimed at attracting and retaining young families and families who are post-B’nai Mitzvah. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: Obtaining additional support for pastoral functions is considered warranted.


F.            Accountability


The steps toward more regularly assessing performance of staff and leadership continue, a culture of review and feedback on a scheduled time frame needs to be implemented and managed.


As to the elements of this Plan, each assigned goal needs to be reviewed periodically to assess progress.  As necessary, goals may need to be reframed and new goals may be identified that may need to take precedence over the currently proposed goals. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: The designated responsibilities for the goals and the timeframes for achieving those goals should also be periodically reassessed. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: The initial responsibility for these periodic assessments should remain with the Strategic Planning Committee reporting to the Board of Trustees and the Executive Board.


G.           Continuity


A significant portion of the understanding of how the Congregation functions from the work of staff, through the work of committees and key policies and practices is not recorded or at least not recorded in a centralized manner. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: The manner by which the Congregation’s various activities are conducted should be memorialized and maintained in a centralized manner. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: To the extent possible, a program of continuity should be implemented for each level of the Congregation’s operations with the goal of ensuring continuity of an understanding of how those operations have been conducted and, perhaps more critically, why those operations are conducted and why those operations have been conducted in the manner in which they have been and are currently functioning.


H.           Functions/Services Provided.


The current functions and services provided need to be reassessed to provide greater focus on functions and services that can attract young families as new members. Attendance at most religious services and general events represents a relatively small percentage of the membership. 


Recommendation, Target or Goal: There is a need for greater focus on programming.  In addition, there needs to be a greater emphasis put on creating an empowered congregation in which lay leaders, committee members, and volunteers feel a sense of ownership over the synagogue community that we are trying to create. We should not be afraid to try new ideas, programs, etc. and empower our congregants to propose and implement new programs within the parameters of the values, mission, and vision of our congregation.


In addition, given the age distribution, the frequency of need for pastoral services will increase.  Current staffing is occasionally insufficient to meet existing pastoral services needs.


Recommendation, Target or Goal: Future staffing needs to provide greater support for programming (with a focus on programming for young families), and pastoral activities while still being able to meet additional needs such as for religious services and the Religious School.


VI.          Action Plans – How we will get there.


The Strategic Planning Committee identified a broad list of goals which were presented to the Board of Trustees. Based on feedback from the Board of Trustees, initial Goals were identified and prioritized as seen in Appendix M.








VII.         Appendices


A.           Committee Membership


B.           Survey Forms and Survey Summaries


C.           Tabulated Membership Data


D.           Census Summary Information and Other Demographic Data


E.           Recent Budgets


F.            Proposed Policy on Use of Endowment Funds


G.           Summary of Dedicated Funds


H.           Current Dues Schedule


I.              Constitution and Unification Agreement


J.            Recent Event Calendars


K.           SWOT Summaries


L.            Mission Statement, Statement of Values, and Vision Statement


M.           Focused List of Current Goals, Larger List of Considered Goals


N.           Summary of Board of Trustees Values Exercise, Wordle of Values