Friday, December 11, 2009

Sharing Anchors Community

A recent blog posting by Harlene Appelman, Director of the Covenant Foundation, quotes Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody on the notion of "sharing anchor[ing] community." Harlene, thank you for calling our attention to this concept.

What I find particularly exciting about how "sharing anchors community" is that the process is a spiral that builds community strength step by step, over time.

When one person shares and is well received, it helps others feel more trusting. When others feel safe and trusting it encourages them to share. As more people share, more people feel comfortable and share in turn, and so the cycle goes on.

What is going on? Why does it work? Often we do not share for fear of being judged, thinking something along the lines of "I wonder what others will think of what I am doing?" But once someone shares and is received well others realize "oh, I have something I can contribute to others." We all like to be recognized for what we do and to be validated for our accomplishments.

Over time, community members begin to share more deeply and readily, and over time a spiral of sharing leads to trust, which leads to more sharing, which leads to more trust -- creates a sense of community. Above is a diagram that captures the cycle.

So what can you do to help build a trusting community? Even the smallest step is important.
  • Share something you know with someone or a group who might benefit from it.
  • Express gratitude to someone who shares -- drop them an email or mention something the next time you see them.

As in a row of dominoes, you may set off a chain reaction of trust and sharing. And the world certainly needs much more of these!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Looking over each other's shoulders

The Kehilliyot CoP is exploring ways we can “look over each other's shoulders” to learn about community facilitation from the practice of peers. We are grateful to Darim Online, who recently invited Kehilliyot members to join the webinar "Foundations of Social Media" to learn about how Darim presents to their CoP members.

Several Kehilliyot members, including myself, joined Lisa and Caren on the webinars. We found it enlightening and useful. We learned alot from watching how Darim used the Webex software to share the desktop, use PowerPoint, and chat -- all in real time -- thus keeping up a variety of stimulating modes of conversation and interaction. The Webinar showed us some great examples of how some organizations are succesfully using social media.

One interesting concept we took away from the seminar was the notion of official and unofficial "outposts". Our Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds and other accounts on third party social networking sites are all examples of “official outposts.” When we comment on someone else’s blog, in their space, we are creating an “unofficial outpost.”

Participants felt they learned quite a bit from the session. Naomi Less (Storahtelling, Evaded Issues in Jewish Education,
Jewish Chicks Rock) said, “Amazing call.. I learned a great great deal. I was also struck by the "outpost" concept.”

Thanks Lisa and Caren. Great job! If you want to find out more contact them at For information about becoming a Darim member, check out

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Community Weaver Role for Kehilliyot

This is a protocol for a Kehilliyot Community Weaver Role. It was created on 8-17-09by Naava Frank of Knowledge Communities and Elana Rivel of Jewish Outreach Partnership based on the "Greeter Program" created by Jewish Outreach Partnership. We welcome your experimenting with this role and sharing your feedback.

  1. Help strengthen the community
  2. Help individuals members get to know each other
  3. Help new or peripheral members connect with the community and its tools
  4. Help the community fine-tune its learning activities to meet the needs of members

Role: Two-Parts

Part I. 15-20 minute phone call

Talking points
  • What CoP work do you do?
  • Let me tell you what I do? A practice I am proud of, a challenge I am facing.
  • Share 2 or 3 ways I use Kehilliyot
  • How are you using Kehilliyot? Are you comfortable with the technology? Are learning activities working for you? Phone calls, Topics? Listserv?
  • Who else do you know or are you contact with from Kehilliyot?

Part II. 2-3 contact points over the next 2-3 months (over email or phone)

  • Connect over a resource shared (what did you think of the last email… I thought it might apply to your work)
  • Ask how is it going?
  • Send a resource you think might be of help
  • Summarize a call they missed
  • Share a problem or success of yours
  • Inquire/follow-up about a problem they shared in the first conversation
  • Respond to their posting
  • Introduce them to someone else
  • Ask to be introduced to someone else

Possible Hebrew terms for this role:
  • Kashran (connector)
  • Arev (a responsible community member – traditional Judaic texts)
  • Oreg (weaver – modern Hebrew translation of weaver)

Let us know if you try this and how it works.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Your First CoP Meeting of The Year

Many of you (like myself) are planning or have just completed the first meeting of the year for your CoP. It would be neat to pool our knowledge about good strategies for starting the year. Maybe some ideas for having 'fun' as well.

In one local CoP for educators, Reuven Kimelman is addressing the group on strategies for teaching the Rosh Hashanah Davening.

Other ideas:

· Have the group brainstorm topics for the year and prioritize them
· What did we like about our CoP last year and what do we want to do differently?
· What does quality look like in our field? members give examples
of quality they experienced in other arenas.
· What are the problems we want to address together?
· What do we want to contribute to the broader field this year?
· Do we want to do any joint projects? writing, blogging, a conference, a presentation?

What was your first CoP meeting like? How did it work?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Advice on meeting reminders

It’s the beginning of the academic year, and Naava and I are busy finalizing our schedules for 2009-2010! As our calendars filled, we began to wonder about the most effective way to distribute meeting reminders to maximize awareness (and attendance). We don’t want to send only one announcement and expect meeting attendees to save it in the chaos of their email inbox, but we don’t want to send so many that it becomes annoying and they stop reading our communications altogether.

We came up with the following tentative schedule:

-- 1 month before: first communication, hold-the-date

-- 1 week before: reminder

-- 1 day before: another reminder

-- possibly one final reminder on the day of the event

Naava suggested we ask Kehilliyot members what they did when they were leading and organizing meetings, as well as what kind of communication worked best for them when they were the invitees. We received many helpful responses.

Naomi Sayegh of BJE writes, “I did some research on conference calling. It was suggested sending out reminders on all the times you noted. In addition, they suggested the day of the meeting—a half hour before the meeting.” She continued, however, “If the meetings are at the same time every month then there is no need for so many reminders. I appreciated the time when there was a reminder the day of a meeting.”

However, Rebecca Egolf pointed out a possible technological snag: “The problem with any reminders that are sent out the day of the meeting is that if you are getting messages from Google Groups in a digest then you don't receive it till the end of the day after it is too late. Day of messages would have to be sent directly by email and not in GG or many of us miss them.”

Thanks to everyone for the great advice!

The Broadest Playing Field Possible

The recenty eJewishPhilanthropy Journal Cites the following quote from Lynn Schusterman in The Jerusalem Post:

"In a world like ours that is diverse and diffuse, there is no way for us to know exactly where or what types of programs to invest in. It is becoming clear, however, that the days of investing in one singular institution are over and to be effective one must be everywhere and into everything. You need to be on the broadest playing field possible."

When individuals from dozens of organizations come together in a community of practice and speak about their successes and challenges a picture of the whole system emerges. Paying attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the system allows the community to address changes that can have an impact of dozens of institutions.

When dozens of communities of practice together in a meta-community of practice called Kehilliyot (sponsored by the Covenant Foundation) the possibilities for impact are profound.

The Kehilliyot community of practice recently tackled the topic of evaluation and accountability for improving the professional practice of our members so they become more efficient and effective in their work. And Kehilliyot continues to experiment with Web 2.0 tools to impact our constituents and help them impact their constituents. As each individual and each community works to improve their practice, the change has ripple effects that affect a few thousand Jewish professionals and many thousands of Jews.

To use Lynn Schusterman's language, a community of practice gives the community members, the community sponsor and the community facilitator insight and access to a very broad playing field. How can Kehilliyot and its constituent communities of practice partner with donors to achieve our shared vision for the future of a vibrant and engaged Jewish community.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On the Closing of PLP - The Potential of Networks

As I read about the closing of PLP, Professional Leaders Project. My thoughts are with my terrifically talented colleagues Rhoda Weisman and Sarah Meyers. I deeply believe that the impact of PLP and other network focused organizations like it, will be felt for a long long time in the Jewish community. Though a program closes, the relationships that were created will continue to bear fruit.

I wonder if funders and stakeholders realize that with a small sustained investment, by way of a network weaver, the community can continue to harvest the fruits that have been cultivated during the years of operation.

I hope that organizations can take the time to articulate and honor their future legacy and maybe even put in place simple self-sustaining mechanism for these networks to live on be it a self-sustaining facebook group, a delicious tag or other electronic connection.

In a day of self organizing communities and social capital garnered from long term ongoing connections, the story is just beginning to unfold.

Stay in touch!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Putting Power in the Hands of Your CoP

Many Kehilliyot members have expressed interest in how to build internal leadership within a community. The citation below, from an article on eJewish philanthropy - includes tips for putting power in the hands of your community. How can we adapt these to CoP? some of my thoughts [in red] below

"Here are just a few of the ways BBYO is building a movement by putting power in the hands of our community:

§ We’re asking our stakeholders to submit stories, photography, videos, logos and t-shirt designs. We’ve learned that authenticity is much more important than production quality or perfect branding.

collecting stories, tools and documents for sharing - we do this in a CoP, can we do it better?

§ We’re tapping “alpha” stakeholders, and encouraging them to mobilize their networks. In other words, we’re identifying individuals within our community who love serving as BBYO brand stewards and giving them the tools and resources to help them do it better.

have we identified our internal leaders? Bruce Hoppe and the work of SNA helped Kehilliyot members understand the significance of hubs (here called "alpha stakeholders). Are you tapping your leaders?

§ We’re sharing ideas, campaigns, videos, logos, etc. with our community members. We’re asking their opinion, and we’re listening. If they’re not fans of what we’re creating (and they’re not always!), we just ask them to do it!

Listening…. listening…listening. Backchannel conversations and ongoing communications are critical. Is this a part of your practice? If not can Kehilliyot help you develop this part of your practice?

Be brave enough to relinquish control of your brand. Put control in the hands of your community. They will reward you by moving your mission forward."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Questions unite people

Questions unite people, answer divide them.

Eli Weisel (Jewish Funders Network Conference, 2009)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Proverbs 15.14-15

The discerning heart seeks out the deepest wisdom...and the joyous mind is always feasting.

Masehet Hagiga, 3a

A house of learning flourishes with innovation.

Thank you to JCDS for this quotation.

S.R. Hirsch, The Nineteen Letters, 1836, #12

Join a community, by which alone your work can be made universal and eternal in its results.

Thank you to CAJE ( for this quotation.

(Midrash) Exodus Rabba 5:9

Come and Learn: The voice of God spoke to each Israelites, that means to each and every person. God's voice was heard and understood because the voice spoke to each individual according to that person's particular ability to hear and the elderly in keeping with their ability, to the young in keeping with their ability, to the little ones in keeping with their ability, and so on.

Thank you to the Jewish Outreach Partnership ( for this quotation.

Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 4:1

Who is wise? One who learns from every person. Who is strong? One who subdues one's evil inclination. Who is rich? One who is happy with one's lot. Who is to be honored? One who honors others.

Thank you to the Jewish Outreach Partnership ( for this quotation.

(Talmud) Berachot 58a

Our masters taught: One who sees a host of Israelites should say, "Blessed be the One who discerns secrets, for the mind of each of them is not like the mind of any other, nor is the countenance of each of them like the countenance of any other."

Thank you to the Jewish Outreach Partnership ( for this quotation.

(Midrash) Tanna de Bei Eliyahu Rabbah 26:6 (10th Century)

This is what the Holy One said to Israel: My children, what do I seek from you?I seek no more than that you have ahavah (love) for one another and kavod (honor) one another; and that you have yirah (awe and reverence) for one another.

Thank you to the Jewish Outreach Partnership ( for this quotation.

(Talmud) Baba Batra, page 8a

If a person resides in a town for thirty days, that person is responsible for continuing the soup kitchen; After three months, that person is responsible to the charity box; After six months, to the clothing fund; After nine months, to the burial fund; And after twelve months, that person is responsible for contributing to the repair of the town walls.

Thank you to the Jewish Outreach Partnership ( for this quotation.

Temple Beth Zion

Brit Halashon - From Temple Beth Zion, an independent Jewish Congregation in Brookline, MA with special focus on building community, that is dedicated to ongoing education, passing on Jewish Tradition, social action and spiritual awareness.Thank you to Gary Grossman for sharing this with us.

Leo Baeck

"It is an old saying: Ask a Jew a question, and the Jew answers with a question. Every answer given arouses new questions. The progress of knowledge is matched by an increase in the hidden and mysterious." - Leo Baeck

Thank you to Steve Kraus from JESNA for sharing this with us.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tosafot (12th c. Commentary on Mishna)

One who is wise, humble and fearful of sin may be made a community leader.

Tosafot (12th c. Commentary on Mishna)
Sanhedrin 7:1