Posternock joins with remote OU’s executive directors conference
Rabbi David Posternock, administrative rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, took part in a recent annual executive directors conference held under the auspices of the Orthodox Union (OU).
Posternock was one of a large contingent of executive directors from North American Orthodox Jewish congregations, who attended the Virtual EDC. They discussed the challenges facing them under the current pandemic in which meeting indoors has been kept to a minimum and regular observance for many of the congregants – especially th elderly – has been compromised.
With the nationwide rollout of vaccines, many executive directors began to eye the possibility of resuming synagogue programs and activities. The OU, the nation’s oldest and largest umbrella organization for North American Jews, facilitated the conference through a day-long virtual Zoom meeting.
“I talked about real problems with other executive directors,” Posternock told the CCJN in a follow up phone interview. “All of that kind of stuff is really helpful.”
At the foremost of their minds is the prevention of the spread of coronavirus and keeping their congregations’ memberships safe. The group discussed ways to safely provide activities and observance, while being careful as to minimize possible transmission of disease especially in the group most at risk, the elderly.
In addition, the virtual conference participants discussed the economic impact the continuing crisis has wreaked on the revenue streams of all the congregations. Annual fundraisers and large community events have been curtailed or cancelled, putting even more pressure on synagogues already strapped for funding.
“The OU Virtual EDC provided an opportunity to share practical solutions for keeping membership engaged during the pandemic and to develop strategies for re-opening in a post pandemic world,” Rabbi Yehuda Friedman, the associate director for the OU’s Department of Synagogue Services and the OU’s Long Island and Queens regional director, wrote in an email to the CCJN.
“As we look to the near future, and hopefully a period of successful and expedited vaccine administration, many of our shuls are left contemplating what’s next and how to resume their pre-COVID-19 normal operations once it’s safe to do so,” Friedman said. “It’s inspiring to see how these executive directors rose to the challenges of the moment and keep forging along during this tumultuous time.”
He expressed gratitude for the conference and also for the OU’s listserv, an email service in which topics of interest are posted and threads of comments follow. “There’s about 50 emails that go throught the list serve every day,” Posternock noted. “The output is a huge resource for our synagogue.”
The OU continues to speak on behalf of American Orthodox Judaism, representing over 400 member congregations in its association.
“Once it was safe to do so, our shuls began to slowly re-open in line with local health, government and halachic guidance,” OU executive vice president Rabbi Moshe Hauer announced. “With limited in-person attendance as mandated by each state’s unique situation, these synagogues had to rapidly pivot to address their communities’ needs as well as the economic impact the pandemic had on their members and how it would affect the synagogues future participation and stability.”
In addition to its support of Orthodox congregations, the OU continues to advocate for its congregations on both state and federal levels. It maintains a number of ongoing endeavors including NCSY, formerly the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, a national outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals; Yachad, an international program that supports children and young adults with learning and developmental disabilities; and the Israel Free Spirit Birthright group, which helps provide free trips to Israel for young adults between 18 and 31 years of age.
The OU also maintains a robust publishing service, OU Press in addition to many other programs and divisions. For more information, check the OU website.