Great Moments in Congregational Board Meetings

Hooray for board meetings! Not a self-portrait – the meeting was held over Zoom. Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay


Meeting (to be held via Zoom) is scheduled for Time X. 9 minutes before the meeting, The Chair (who is the Zoom meeting host) emails that they will be late. They say they will push the start to Time X+15 minutes. I start making myself some food with the extra time.

At Time X+8 minutes, The Chair messages that the Board Meeting has started. I scramble back to my computer with half-prepared food to log in. Zoom says the host has not started the meeting. After a few minutes, I try to log back in again.


At Time X+13 minutes, I get let into the Zoom meeting where the other board members are having a casual-sounding conversation tangentially related to the 5th item on the agenda. Board Member Who Added This Topic To The Agenda is not present. All Other Board Members present seem to agree on the topic. Did we make a decision? Unclear.

~30 minutes into the meeting we have covered the 4th, 2nd, and 3rd topics (in that order) on the agenda.

Member 1: Wait, did we remember to approve the minutes from the last meeting? (1st agenda topic)

Following the agenda? Lol, nope! Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

COVID Policy

Member 2: Not everyone was following the COVID policy over Yom Kippur and Shabbat.

Member 3: What’s the policy?

Member 4: Wear a mask indoors and you have to be vaccinated. I saw someone unvaccinated* come to High Holiday services and take off their mask at one point.

Member 5: I thought the policy was that everyone has to take a COVID test.

Member 4: No that was the High Holiday policy.

Member 3: Did the policy change?

Member 2: No this was always the policy. And it’s in the weekly email.

Chair: But no one reads the weekly email. We should make a sign.

Member Who Sends The Weekly Emails: Everyone, and especially everyone on the board, is supposed to read the emails!

*Later, after the meeting, I mentioned to Husband about the unvaccinated member and how everyone else on the board seemed to know who it was except me. On the one hand, my COVID risk tolerance is high enough that I don’t really care if someone is unvaccinated (For the record, I am vaccinated, boosted, and I had COVID). On the other hand, I was incredibly curious, in that gossipy sort of way, to identify the unvaccinated person.

Husband, not as involved in the congregation: Oh that’s [So-and-So].

Me: How do you know that? Do you even know [So-and-So]?

Husband: No. But [So-and-So] wrote in all the discussion threads about COVID that they’re not getting vaccinated. Don’t you read the emails?

Me, a board member: No.

In my defense, there are a shit ton of emails. I’m not reading them all. Image by Muhammad Ribkhan from Pixabay

High Holiday Report

High Holidays went well, but not without hiccups. A bunch of people showed up even though they didn’t register or pay. Everyone agreed lack of timely registration is an ongoing problem.

Time for The Treasurer’s report on HHD expenses:

Chair: Were there any surprise expenses for High Holidays?

Treasurer: Actually, the surprise is that expenses were under budget.

*3 different people mention that they still have to submit receipts for reimbursement for undisclosed amounts for HHD expenses*

Member 2: I have an idea. Since we were under-budget, next year, let’s make High Holiday registration free for everyone and just increase membership dues!

Treasurer: Um, no.

Free high holiday registration proposal was not approved. Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Young People

Four new-to-the-congregation young people showed up for High Holiday services. The Chair became very excited because, like pretty much every American non-Orthodox Jewish community, this is not a congregation of young people, and everyone in the congregation except me is deeply interested in increasing attendance and membership of young people.

Chair: I introduced myself to [Young Person #1], thanked them for coming and asked if they would be interested in coming for Shabbat services. [Young Person #1] said they would be more likely to come again if we had [XYZ]. So, I think we should consider [XYZ] for the future to attract more young people.

My opinion, which I do not share because discussion has moved on (and also, because my opinion is unpopular):

  1. XYZ is totally impractical, infeasible, and will absolutely never work.
  2. Even if XYZ were feasible, it still wouldn’t attract young people; Young Person #1 was lying because they were put on the spot. (I know this because I actually know Young Person #1 and why they attend where they normally attend.)
  3. The only thing that actually attracts young people are the presence of other young people because young people are totally incapable of being around anyone outside their age group.
  4. We shouldn’t bother trying to attract young people because young people today are totally overrated and mostly useless when it comes to building, supporting, and sustaining a synagogue community.
As much as I love this young Jewish stock photo guy, if you couldn’t tell, I think young people as a collective are overrated. And yes, the “Y” in “JYP” stands for “Young”. Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Good & Welfare

A member of the congregation is having surgery. Said member used to be very active, but has been disappointed that the congregational COVID policy wasn’t strict enough for their comfort so they haven’t attended as much lately.

Member 2: We should have people sign up to make meals for [Member Undergoing Surgery]. [Member 5], you should send out the sign up. They keep kosher (Author’s note: Not all members of this congregation keep kosher kitchens) – you know what, I think it’s better if everyone who signs up buys them meals from a kosher restaurant.

Member 1: That’s a good idea. You know, when [a different member] needed meals, I got great meals from [Name of Kosher Restaurant]

Member 5: [Name of Kosher Grocery Store] puts together a great takeout meal from their deli counter.

*Dissolves into discussion of various kosher eating establishments*

Nothing more Jewish than a completely off-topic discussion of kosher food.”Sendix Kosher Food Display” by Lynn Friedman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Meeting Adjourned


  1. This is hilarious, and I happen to know how true it is.
    Shabbat Shalom!
    P.S. When and where have you ever seen Jews (with the exception of Yakkies) do anything in a timely manner?
    P.P.S. Our congregation consists mostly of young people, and so are quite a few others I know. They call me everybody’s grandma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed, although sorry you identified with this all too well! Totally agree with you on timeliness. We call it Jewish Standard Time.
      Interesting re: your congregation. What denomination is your synagogue? Are you located in an area that young people have been moving to?

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL We also call it Standard Jewish Time, but we also have Standard Latin Time, which is exactly one hour late, and Standard Caribbean time, AKA “catch you later” time.
        We go to Chabad, just because it is the closest for me to walk to, but neither my husband nor I are Chabad Chasidim. There are non-Chabad shuls in our area which are a bit far for me, and they are also full of young people, with youth programs, children’s programs, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh, I hate staff meetings. Back when I used to attend them was pre-Covid, so I’ve never done, like, a zoom thing. But anyway, I hated the meetings! So much discussion of minutiae that no one cared about, blown up into a huge half-hour ordeal. We were reading teachers who couldn’t agree on how to pronounce the schwa. It was almost painful.

    Sorry I’ve been gone! My blog sort of… spontaneously combusted? Then I just disappeared. But I want to get a new blog up, if I can figure out how to use wordpress. It’s hard to create a new site.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually disagree with you about young people. I think the young people of today are far more inclusive and much kinder than our generation. I also think they’ve got a damn tough wicket. The baby boomers had the best years, we’ve got it pretty good and they’re left with climate change, impossible house prices and a bunch of world powers playing silly-bugger political games.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure my fellow young people are any kinder or more inclusive than anyone else [I’ve seen my similarly-aged peers exclude others for not being in the same life stage, (eg. excluding singles if they’re married) or excluding people who have different political views]. But I actually agree with your second point that today’s young people are dealing with more pressures than previous generations did. There’s good reason for why young people today have less disposable time and money and interest to dedicate towards building and sustaining synagogues than previous generations did! That said, because young people have less time, money, and interest, it makes me question the value of trying to attract them in the first place.


  4. I’m surprised about the High Holiday fees, because shuls I’ve been to in the UK (admittedly not many) give automatic free HH attendance to members.

    Anyway, I’ve never been on a congregational board, although my parents have been (actually, only my Dad has, but Mum has been on umpteen charity and PTA committees). I hope never to be on one.

    When I was at university, a lot of people tried to get me to join the Jewish Society committee, but I refused on the grounds that it was essentially a social society, not a religious one, and I knew nothing about organising social events, and didn’t even attend most of them. This severely annoyed at least one person for reasons I’ve never fully understood. I was on the Doctor Who Society committee, though. We used to hold committee meetings in the pub, which probably made them vaguely more interesting than they might otherwise have been.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the USA, High Holidays are often a fundraiser of sorts for many cash-strapped synagogues. Financially, our congregation is in pretty good shape, but we do charge nominal fees for HH seats to cover our expenses (the congregation doesn’t have a permanent building, so we need to rent a larger space for HH, set up, etc.) We never turn anyone away who can’t or doesn’t register or pay.

      I don’t inherently mind being on the board. I care about this congregation, and I think it’s important to step up and take on some of the thankless tasks if I expect the community to continue. Honestly, pre-COVID, I enjoyed the board meetings (they were held at a member’s house and we served brunch and coffee – it was quite nice, actually). In the COVID world, the meetings have been awful.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is interesting for me. Our congregation is quite small, and I know the sands of time are dropping quickly before I’m asked to join the board someday (I really don’t want to but will). My sister is a board member of her shul and she says she thinks Zoom meetings are here to stay because it’s so convenient. I hope you finally got to finish your recipe! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 😂

    Zoom meetings are painful… this was hysterical however..

    “Member 2: I have an idea. Since we were under-budget, next year, let’s make High Holiday registration free for everyone and just increase membership dues!

    Treasurer: Um, no.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’ll admit I paraphrased the conversation slightly for the sake of the blog post, but Member 2’s proposal was pretty much word-for-word that. Treasurer’s response was a little kinder in real life! Zoom meetings are a unique kind of awful!


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