Congregational Leadership

Reform congregational leaders, particularly congregation presidents, play an essential role in the vitality of Jewish communal life. Whether charting a strategic course with clergy and staff, inviting and welcoming spiritual seekers, or raising funds, these devoted individuals are key to successful synagogue life. In 2018, with help from generous donors – including the Scheidt and Shallat families – the URJ continued to serve congregational leaders of all backgrounds and experience levels in communities of all sizes.

Scheidt Seminar For Presidents and Presidents-Elect

Each year, the Scheidt Seminar gathers together congregational presidents to learn, network, build relationships, and enrich their leadership skills. Held twice in 2018 and serving more than 140 presidents, the seminar offered opportunities for participants to meet with URJ experts to discuss everyday challenges in congregations. Since the inaugural Scheidt Seminar, made possible with generous support from the Scheidt family in 1998, more than 1,700 presidents and congregations have benefitted from this innovative leadership training endeavor.

URJ Day of Leadership Learning

In 2018, the URJ expanded its large-scale leadership gatherings, simultaneously convening more than 1,200 individuals from more than 250 congregations at 66 locations for an annual Day of Leadership Learning. Focused on congregational board leadership, the event offered opportunities for participants to explore 21st-century governance principles, including sacred partnerships and board meetings that balance generative, strategic, and fiduciary concerns.

A day earlier, near the Day of Leadership Learning site in Pittsburgh, PA, a tragic shooting took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue, claiming 11 innocent Jewish lives. Acknowledging the great healing power of being together, this event proceeded as planned.

URJ Had'rachah Seminar for Lay Leadership in Ritual Life

Small congregations with no more than one full-time clergy member each sent a representative to URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI) in Oconomowoc, WI, for the annual URJ Had'rachah Seminar.


Participants learned a variety of skills to enable them to lead communal worship, lifecycle events, and educational sessions in support of, or in place of, clergy.  

Photo: Lauren Wolcott

Rodef Shalom Congregation, Pittsburgh, PA