The Bright Spots conference is about sharing best practices, and inspiring today’s shul leaders to originate tomorrow’s ideas.
The South African Jewish community is unique. We are recognised as being among the most actively engaged in Jewish life, the most proudly Jewish, the most cohesive, and one of the most open and welcoming communities in the world. To a large extent, the strength of the community can be attributed to South Africa’s extraordinary network of shuls. The synagogue has always played a central role in Jewish communal life in South Africa, driving the identity, vibrancy and dynamism of the community.
But in a world of competing distractions shuls are finding it more and more challenging to maintain and grow shul membership and attendance.
Now, more than ever, fresh thinking is needed to make sure our shuls are as relevant, engaging and inviting as they possibly can be, and that they remain bustling, vibrant hubs of inspiration and creative Jewish expression, especially for the next generation.
This is the thinking behind Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein’s “Bright Spots” initiative.
Bright Spots is a cutting-edge change management methodology developed by Dan Heath, best-selling author of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.
Bright Spots involved a conference for South Africa’s rabbis and rebbetzins, as well as committee leaders and youth directors, highlighting some of the most innovative, exciting and successful programmes here and abroad.
The inaugural Bright Spots Conference – run in partnership with the Ivan and Lynette Saltzman Foundation and hosted by Investec – was held in August of this year. The conference followed a community-wide survey asking people what they found most engaging and inviting about their shuls. Another specific, survey was aimed at all of those involved in shul leadership positions, to identify the bright spots.
After the survey data had been gathered and analysed, the findings were unpacked and discussed at the Bright Spots conference through professionally facilitated collaborative workshops, with new shul ideas and strategies developed.
According to Rabbi Goldstein, the Bright Spots conference is about sharing best practices, and inspiring today’s shul leaders to originate tomorrow’s ideas.
“The purpose of the conference is to identify the bright spots within our shuls – to find what’s really working – and develop strategies to amplify those successful practices.
Using the latest theories in change management, together with the collective wisdom and experience of all those involved in a shul leadership capacity, we can maximise the shul experience, inspire everyone to be optimally engaged, and enrich our entire community,”