Spiritually Oriented Shuls Need Rules

My friend, Neil Harris, a resident of Chicago, emailed me an article on Mishkan Chicago, a new organization that “aims to bring dynamic spirituality to the Windy City”. The organization is run by Lizzi Heydemann.

In describing what she is trying to create, one particular sentence stood out:
“What she doesn’t want to do is turn Mishkan into a synagogue, with its inevitable rules and decorum.”

To create a vibrant growing organization, you need to go beyond an inspiring leader and create a governing structure. Governing structures need rules to insure fair governance.

A successful organization needs their finances to be “squeaky clean”. Squeaky clean finances need rules. Rules on how to raise money and rules on how to spend money.

When an organization is spiritual focused, then rules can actually promote growth. The Mishkan itself had more rules on how it operated then any institution in history of mankind, yet it was the greatest center of spiritual connection ever witnessed.

Spiritual growth can occur beyond the confines of the prayer service. The Torah gives us the opportunity to grow in a board meeting, in a membership meeting, when making a budget. Rules express a concern for fairness and a caring for the collective membership. By shunning them instead of embracing them, an organization is leaving a lot of spiritual growth on the table.

I hope the citizens of Chicago continue their quest for authentic spiritual growth and look for those opportunities wherever they turn.

5 thoughts on “Spiritually Oriented Shuls Need Rules”

  1. The line you wrote about the Mishkan having more rules than any other structure was great.

    By the way, take a look at the chapter titled, “Korah and the Common Sense Rebellion” in REFLECTIONS OF THE RAV vol 1.

      1. Orthodox institutions in Manhattan and the Hamptons and other places have been successful in attracting the unaffiliated, but you need to target the emotional because that is what attracts the majority of people.

        I think that because so much of Judaism in our TAG world (Torah, Avodah, Gemillas Chasidim) is intellectually focused (learning Torah and the Kavanna aspects of prayer), it often fails to attract a large portion of the unaffiliated and perhaps doesn’t even invigorate our own members. Even our Chesed is focused on the day to day aspects where and lack the save-the-world emotionalism that non Orthodox chesed is focused on.

        I personally think we need to engage the physical, emotional and intellectual, but you can’t minimize the large thought-based focus of much of Torah based Judaism.

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