Friday, September 11, 2009

Empowerment and Self-reliance: Building a Sustainable Congregational Learning Model

Empowerment and Self-reliance: Building a Sustainable Congregational Learning Model (A White Paper Forthcoming from Knowledge Communities)
Knowledge Communities worked with Congregation Beth Israel (Charlottesville, VA) to build the grassroots-lead community learning program called Shabbat Connections.

Naava Frank of Knowledge Communities collaborated with Congregation Beth Israel (CBI), the only congregation in Charlottesville (VA), to build their award winning Shabbat Connections Program (SC). The collaboration reaped numerous insights, new ways of working and a program that exceeded everyone’s expectations for two-years, supported by funding from the Legacy Heritage Foundation.

KC facilitated monthly phone calls with congregational staff, Rabbi Dan Alexander, Ms. Ellen Dietrick and Rabbi Tom Gutherz. Their words attest to the effectiveness of KC’s role in the program.

Rabbi Dan: Naava is a good listener and synthesizer and asks provocative questions. We valued the way Naava's questions created a different perspective for us, so we could get outside of ourselves. Sometimes the perspective she brought was philosophical and helped us get beyond the mechanical mode of how to get the program done. There was value to having a person outside that we had to explain things to. It helped us think it through and explain it to ourselves.

Rabbi Tom: A useful trick that we learned was to ask “What goal do you want to accomplish” as opposed to “How do we get things done?” Then we planned starting at the end and met our goals.

Ellen Dietrick: Naava really listened to us and joined with us, understood our perspective and worked with us. A lot of pieces were new, including focusing on questions, the reflective component, evaluation afterwards. These gave us new frameworks and tools. We often “use her lines” e.g. Naava would say ..

Look for the white paper in the upcoming weeks. Sign up at our website:

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