Congregation Emanu-El Vision 2020


We are delighted to share with you that we have another chance for you to shape our Temple’s future and have an opportunity to participate in the Strategic Planning process at this critical point in time. Last fall the Strategic Planning Task Force (SPTF) was formed. Chaired by Board Vice President Rebecca Macieira‐Kaufmann and including Board, clergy, staff, and congregant members, its charge was to create strategic directions for Congregation Emanu‐El looking out five years. Working with diligence, insight, integrity, and mutual respect, the Task Force has prepared Congregation Emanu‐El Vision 2020, A High-Level Strategic Plan (PDF). The plan sets a vision—a clear sense of overall direction going forward.

The planning process was built on congregant feedback and planning discussions conducted by Emanu‐El over the last two years. This included congregant surveys, listening sessions, one‐on‐one meetings, focus groups, and Board planning sessions. All this input revealed a desire among many congregants for future directions that, building on our strengths, will bring us together as an even more vibrant, sacred Jewish community. As congregants, you are that community, and this needs to be our collective plan. We are asking each of you to read the plan, consider its findings, and assess its conclusions. And we are asking that you tell us what you think.

Vision 2020 is the result of an exciting planning process undertaken on your behalf by a Task Force of Board, clergy, staff, and congregants. Working with diligence, insight, integrity, and mutual respect the Task Force examined Congregation Emanu‐El from many perspectives:

  • studying documentation of planning‐related efforts undertaken by Emanu‐El over the last several years and various meetings/input sessions (e.g., Branding survey, Congregation Based Community Organizing initiative sessions, June 2007 Board retreat);
  • absorbing perspectives gathered through stakeholder interviews and listening sessions with Board members, clergy, staff;
  • analyzing statistics on current levels of activity in Congregation Emanu‐El (worship, education, community);
  • reviewing data on the external environment, including the Jewish Community Study conducting by the Jewish Community Federation.

The Task Force affirmed that Congregation Emanu‐El is a strong, respected synagogue offering a wide range of worship, education, and service opportunities to a large, diverse membership. However, Task Force members also discovered shared perceptions and expectations for how Congregation Emanu‐El could be even better. Primary among these are:

  • There is a groundswell of interest and commitment among many in the congregation for much greater engagement with Emanu‐El.
  • If Emanu‐El can embrace this commitment, this can be a period of evolution to being a truly extraordinary congregation in these times.
  • Embracing this commitment and realizing this greater level of engagement requires new ways of working together as laity, clergy, and staff—a transformation in our operating culture.
  • Emanu‐El is and will continue to be large, and must continue to be a big tent that welcomes different types and levels of involvement from its congregants—this is the right thing to do, and the right model for a sacred and open community.

The plan captures these aspirations in a VISION of what Emanu‐El can be. The Vision sets a course for moving to widespread member engagement, deeper connections among congregants, increased Jewish literacy, connecting with Israel and Jews around the world, and a highly functional operating culture—and thereby being essential in the lives of our congregants. At an all‐day retreat on June 1, the Board of Directors, with clergy and senior staff, discussed the proposed plan in depth. The conversation was wide‐open and wide‐ranging. At its conclusion all present strongly endorsed the Vision, expressing their appreciation for being part of Congregation Emanu‐El and their enthusiasm for moving forward with this vision.

We are very much looking forward to hearing from members across the congregation. We offer the following to stimulate your thinking and responses.

  • To what extent do you support this as the desired vision and high‐level plan for Congregation Emanu‐El? Why or why not?
  • To what extent are you interested in participating more deeply in Congregation Emanu‐El? Why or why not?
  • Are there particular aspects of the plan that you are particularly interested in or supportive of? Are there aspects that are of concern? Are there aspects that you are not supportive of?
  • Are there critical topics or issues that are not addressed?
  • Other comments and thoughts?

There are a variety of ways for you to provide input that should be received by 9/11/11.

  1. We are emailing this message to all members with email access providing the link ( to down load the plan. Responses may be returned to
  2. We have posted the plan at where you can review it and submit comments to
  3. You may call Emanu‐El at (415) 751‐2541x143 and leave a voice message with your comments.
  4. Email or call the office of the Executive Director at (415)751‐2541 x132 and request an opportunity to speak personally with a member of the Board or staff about the plan.

We will compile and analyze all the input, finalize Vision 2020, and then move into implementation planning this fall. We thank you in advance for your thoughtful contributions.

Rebecca Macieira‐Kaufmann (Board Vice President and Chair, Strategic Planning Task Force)
Steven Dinkelspiel (President)
Joe Elbaum (Executive Director)
Stephen Pearce (Senior Rabbi)
Board of Directors


© 2015 Congregation Emanu-El 2 Lake Street, San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone: (415) 751-2535
Fax: (415) 751-2511