ALEPH Quarterly Report: Summer 2014


Dear ALEPH Hevre/Friends:

This note begins what we hope will become a tradition of reporting to you – the board, program directors, teachers, staff, affiliates and friends of ALEPH – each quarter about the state of the Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

This first report comes, of course, as we emerge from the shloshim period for our beloved zeide.  The future Reb Zalman visioned always has been in our collective hands to bring into the world, but many of us now feel more keenly the reality and importance of this truth.  Reb Zalman’s wisdom about paradigm shift speaks profoundly to our own paradigm shift in this very moment: “The only way to get it together is together.”  How we are with each other – and with allies and potential partners beyond our bubble – has never been more vital to our future and success. That’s the spirit in which we offer this first quarterly report – to take a snapshot, begin a dialogue, build bridges, and go forward together.  With that purpose, and in dedication to Reb Zalman’s enduring memory and blessing –

וִיהִי נֹעַם אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָה עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנֵהוּ 
May the Holy One’s grace be on us, establishing the work of our hands, hearts and souls.
—Psalm 90:17

We look forward to seeing many of you in Boulder on August 15 to honor Reb Zalman and continue his work and legacy.


Jeremy Parnes, Chair
David Markus, Vice Chair


1. Unified Budgeting

At its July meeting in Oregon, the ALEPH Board approved the budget for the next fiscal year.  This budget is newsworthy in many important respects:

  • It’s fully balanced: ALEPH has completed its financial recovery and is now fiscally sound.
  • It’s ALEPH’s first-ever unified budget: gone are outdated administrative “silos” between programs that restrained ALEPH financially and programmatically.
  • It’s ALEPH’s first-ever three-year planning document: it sets growth-oriented goals and realistic fundraising and financing projections across the organization, in close consultation with program directors.

2. Budget Highlights

ALEPH’s 2014-15 operating budget and 2015-17 planning budget seek to evolve ALEPH into the new era.  Its highlights include:

  • Full-time executive director.  ALEPH’s growth and success require the services of a full-time executive director able to expand ALEPH’s influence, reach and financial development. The budget makes provision to shift ALEPH into a full-time executive director in 2015.
  • Expanded marketing and communications.  ALEPH will unveil a 21st century website with much-enhanced capacity to brand and market ALEPH, supported by expanded staff for strategic marketing and communications.
  • Publishing.  ALEPH appropriated seed money to begin developing a modern, high-quality and curated publishing capability to further launch Renewal teachings into the world.
  • Presence in Israel.  ALEPH appropriated seed money to cultivate a Jerusalem institute, so that ALEPH ordination students and others can have a high-quality “Renewal” home in Israel.
  • Deep Ecumenism and “The Jew in the Lotus.”  ALEPH will hold a special summer 2015 event commemorating the 25th anniversary of Reb Zalman’s historic mission to consult with the Dalai Lama – the subject of Rodger Kamenetz’s exquisite book, “The Jew in the Lotus.”  Other participants in that mission, including Kamenetz, Joy Levitt, and Yitz and Blu Greenberg, have agreed to join.  In preparation for this event, ALEPH hopes to develop programming on Deep Ecumenism for Ordination students, Ruach Ha’Aretz and ALEPH-affiliated communities.  Look for more information about this exciting “once in a lifetime” event soon.

3. Transitions

This summer, Daniel Siegel steps down as Director of Spiritual Resources, and Rivkah Walton leaves ALEPH after years of service, most recently as Director of Membership Services.  From our own Board of Directors, Janice Rubin and Judith Dack finished their terms as ALEPH vice chairs; David Markus completed his term as treasurer and finance chair; and David Rafsky finished his term as secretary.  Please join in thanking Daniel, Rivkah, Janice, Judith and the Davids for their service.  Janice, Judith and the Davids continue as Board members, and the Board now rotates as follows:


Chair – Jeremy Parnes
Vice Chair & General Counsel – David Markus
Treasurer – David Rafsky
Secretary – Joan Cooke


Communications – Janice Rubin
Communities & Alumni – Rachel Barenblat
Development – Jade Ullman & Jane Graver
Ethics – Charlotte Sutker
Finance – Joan Cooke
Personnel – Jeremy Parnes
Program – Malka Drucker

4. Sociocracy and Consultation

Now more than ever, it’s vital for ALEPH to be the Alliance for Jewish Renewal that is our namesake.  To that end, ALEPH must and will re-double its efforts to network within and beyond our organization.  Over the next year, these goals include:

  • Implement sociocracy.  ALEPH will transition from a board-committee-staff governance system to a more consultative sociocratic model in which program directors, ALEPH-affiliated communities, Ordinations alumni and strategic partners participate actively in governance decisions.  Look for more information about this soon.
  • Re-invent “affiliation.”  With support from its Communities Committee, ALEPH is surveying all alumni, ALEPH-affiliated communities and OHALAH members about spiritual leadership and both current and prospective “affiliation” with Renewal.  Among the purposes is to reinvent – and perhaps transcend – stale models of community “affiliation” that well-serve neither communities nor ALEPH.  This conversation is just beginning and will require creativity – as paradigm shifts do – but we’re confident that a far more vibrant, empowered and spiritually dynamic model is possible… and ALEPH should help lead in its creation.  Stay tuned.
  • Build a broad advisory cabinet.  Reb Zalman asked that we assemble a consultative group for advice, institutional memory and broad outreach.  We will implement his request by building an ALEPH Advisory Cabinet both within Renewal and beyond our usual circles, to include all generations of spiritual and organizational leadership in the evolution of ALEPH.