Update on the Listening Tour and its Report

Dear Friends of ALEPH and Jewish Renewal:

We’re writing with an update on the Listening Tour and its Report about the future of ALEPH and Jewish Renewal.

In 2015 and 2016, we dedicated our first 15 months as ALEPH co-chairs (nearly half of our term) to the holy work of receptive listening.  We wanted to hear as widely as possible about hopes, dreams and kvetches for ALEPH and Jewish Renewal.  We traveled the continent (and, by video, the globe!).  We sat with people of all kinds – clergy, teachers, congregants, students, administrators, innovators, imagineers, artists and more.  We amassed hundreds of pages of notes.  We listened and we listened some more.

When we began, we planned to issue a Report before Kallah 2016.  Unsurprisingly, people wanted to keep sharing their hearts and minds.  We extended a few months.  We hoped to issue a Report before Rosh Hashanah 2016.

As the saying goes, “We plan and God laughs.”  Distilling hundreds of pages and 15 months of listening took longer than we expected.  Today, however, we’re pleased to announce that we submitted a draft Report to our review team, and we hope to have their blessing to finalize and release it shortly.  As soon as we do, you will have this Report about the Listening Tour.

In the meantime, we presented initial findings and recommendations to the ALEPH Board, Va’ad of the ALEPH Ordination Program and ALEPH Project Directors, together representing key constituencies of teachers, students, innovators and communities.  We received their feedback and integrated it.  We plan to offer snapshots during a plenary session of the OHALAH Conference in January 2017.  If you’re coming to OHALAH, we look forward to seeing you in Colorado soon.

Additionally, partly in response to the Listening Tour, the ALEPH Board retained a strategic planning consultant who’s especially adept at helping faith-based communities vision wise and prosperous multi-generational futures.  With his help, ALEPH is evolving a consultative process in which representatives of the ALEPH Board, teachers, students, project leaders and communities will collaborate to vision the next turning of ALEPH – with the resources, programs, structure and flexibility necessary to bring that vision to life.

We are grateful to generous donors for making this opportunity possible, our community hosts throughout the Listening Tour, and the hundreds of people who took the time to share their hearts with us.  We eagerly look forward to continuing this journey together.


As we approach Chanukkah, the Festival of Lights, we recall that among tradition’s many sources that Reb Zalman z”l often quoted was one that speaks poignantly to this moment: “Not by might, and not by power, but by My spirit, says God” (Zechariah 4:6).  It is to the ongoing flow of holiness among and through all of us together that we dedicate this holy work and the next turning of ALEPH and Jewish Renewal that you will help make possible.  From our hearts to yours, thank you.


David Markus & Rachel Barenblat


ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal