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A Communication from the CEO

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Hevre (Friends),

The approach of Rosh Hashanah is a time in which the Jewish people look inward and take an accounting of their souls.  It is a moment of new beginnings, new opportunities, to hit the "reset" button of our lives, and to seek new paths of growth and development.  That's why it was also an opportune time for our staff to gather in Toronto and engage in a USCJ heshbon hanefesh (self-accounting) and discuss together ways in which we can continue to improve our team and culture.

We had several goals in planning the retreat: be together, share our highest hopes for USCJ and begin a planning process by which those hopes can be achieved.  Though the formal feedback survey has just gone out (and we will share that data with you when completed), we want to share with you some of the big take-aways we heard and what has already been done to address them.

Tuesday at the senior staff met and reviewed the outputs of the executive, manager and staff engagement exercises we completed on Tuesday and Wednesday of the retreat.  We organized them into three themes: appreciation and recognition, communication, and collaboration.

Then we agreed to several key priority areas for each.  For example, you told us that professional development and training was an important expression of appreciation and recognition.  We agree, and committed to ourselves that we would seek opportunities for such development, whether something we co-create using our own talent for training, or encouraging the taking of a course from a local college or training program, or some other communal opportunity.  Vivian Lewis already put out a call for peer-to-peer training and we are thrilled by your response. 

The importance of better communication is another area of focus.  This communication is but the first of regular messages that we will be creating to share information, demonstrate how our day-to-day actives relate to our vision and highlight the work of members of our team. 

Another outcome from our focus on communication is the reinstitution of quarterly all staff town hall meetings.  Mark your calendars for the first November 17, 2016 from 1-2pm est.  It will be via WebEx and the sign-in information will follow.

Refining the tasks in each theme, training to those goals and implementing successfully is the goal of our entire management system this fiscal year.  The executive staff (CEO, CIIO and CFOO) meets weekly.  Senior staff (c-suite plus Sr. Directors) meets monthly.  And our entire management team (c-suite, Sr. Directors and cross-USCJ managers) also meet monthly.  The purpose of these meetings is the sharing of information, case studies and problem solving and assuring we are aligned with our strategic intent.

The planning processes we began at the retreat will provide us with an opportunity to work on these theme areas in the weeks and months ahead.  The executive and senior staff will communicate in department meetings, team coaching and all staff communications details of how our planning will unfold.

We each have an important part to play in assuring USCJ as a valued, trusted partner in strengthening kehillot and the leader of an authentic, dynamic Judaism.  We are each a piece of the puzzle that assures USCJ is the very best we can be.

Jody and I wish your families and you the very best this new year.

Shannah Tovah,

Rabbi Steven Wernick

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