Our yearly Scholar in Residence is an event that we have found very beneficial for our Shul. I’ll try to layout some of the issues involved in planning and running a scholar in residence in this post.
The first task is selecting the speaker. We have found that speakers fall into one of two broad categories, inspirational or source based. Although many speakers have both characteristics, they generally can be classified as primarily one or the other. We try to mix it up from year to year since we have a relatively learned Shul and they appreciate both types of speakers.
Since we’re a low-budget organization, we usually pay $1,800 for a scholar for the Shabbos and we’ll add travel expenses if the speaker is coming from out of town. We have found that many people are willing to co-sponsor this event.
Most years our venue is a 45-50 minute Friday Night Shiur, a 20 minute Shabbos Drasha and at 30-40 minute Shalosh Seudos speech. This year we added a 30 minute Sit Down Kiddush shiur after davening and a Melava Malka for a total of five talks. Since we can never predict how many people will come out on Friday Night and Moatza’ei Shabbos, we try to have those talks in people’s homes so that even if we get only 20-30 people, it’s respectable. We usually work with the Scholar to decide on the topics for the talks.
We try to find a comfortable house for the Scholar to stay, with the meals hosted by the Rabbi and Rebbetzin on Shabbos and the education chairman on Friday night to help make the logistics go more smoothly. We try to escort the Scholar to all of the minyanim and all the speaking venues, although many of them prefer to find their own way, once they’re comfortable with the neighborhood.
With solid support from many members for the hosting and food setup, we’ve had great logistic success for these events. The members always express much appreciation and we think it’s an integral program for Shul success.