Regional Young Israel Confab Charts Course for Collaboration and Growth

On Sunday, July 23, 45 participants, representing the lay leadership and rabbis of 11 Long Island Young Israel branches assembled at the Young Israel of Plainview to discuss constructive, coordinated and meaningful strategies for programming, growth and governance. The full-day conference, chaired by National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) Associate Vice President Lou Sroka, highlighted the fact that productive branch engagement is the cornerstone to the vitality of the Young Israel movement.

The conference touched upon issues such as enhancing communication between and within branches (i.e., particularly within the Long Island region), optimizing education youth opportunities, addressing the demographic changes within the Young Israel branches, plotting the next steps in Young Israel responsiveness and collaboration, as well as the broader questions of the future and meaning of the Young Israel movement. Most importantly, there was a focus on shul growth.

The conference was welcomed by YI of Plainview Rabbi Elie Weissman.  Associate Vice President Louis Sroka welcomed all participants and highlighted the importance of an active Shul infrastructure to both build and operate YI in a meaningful way.  Director of Rabbinic Services Benyamin Hammer spoke about activities in which the NCYI is currently involved. YI of Oceanside Rabbi Jonathan Muskat and branch president Ben Lipschitz led an in-depth conversation on addressing diverse needs within a Young Israel branch and how to effectively delegate authority amongst shul officers and volunteers to best use their talents. Herald PR President Juda Engelmayer addressed the group about how to maximize social media and craft a successful message to communicate with members, using multiple channels and social media. NCYI Chairman of the Board Bob Levi facilitated an open forum about how the NCYI could be more engaging with its branches and for airing all questions and concerns about Young Israel of any nature. The conference ended with a presentation by NCYI Executive Director Rabbi Marc Volk, who laid out a vision for renewed branch engagement.

The success of the conference was underscored by the degree to which the leadership of various branches was constructively interacting with each other during the conference, but more importantly, how they remained to continue talking even after the conference adjourned.

The following Young Israel branches participated in the conference: YI of Coram, YI of East Northport, YI of Great Neck, YI of Huntington, YI of Long Beach, YI of Merrick, YI of New Hyde Park, YI of North Bellmore, YI of Oceanside, YI of Plainview, and YI of West Hempstead.


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