Why We Wanted A Sounding Board



From the beginning, we’ve wanted to have an advisory board for Bayit — a diverse group of thoughtful, creative, smart people to help us steer our work. It’s good to have brainstorming partners. It’s good to be able to seek advice. And most of all, we want to avoid groupthink.

Bayit’s builders are diverse in certain ways (different denominational and spiritual backgrounds, for instance) but we have a lot in common. We see the world in shared ways. That’s a good and valuable thing in a group of partners and collaborators, but it also means we’re likely to miss things. We wanted an advisory group in part to help us think outside our own box.

We took a few months to think about what we would want from such a group. We took another few months to ponder who we would invite to join such a group. A couple of us spent a while batting around possible titles for such a group, because we agreed that “advisory council” sounded too formal. The name we settled on was Sounding Board. To us, that connotes a group who will listen, offer suggestions, and help us refine our thinking and our plans.

The folks on our Sounding Board aren’t responsible for what Bayit does or doesn’t do. They’re not setting Bayit policies or attending our Board meetings. Rather, they’re our thinking partners, invited to give us honest opinions and diverse viewpoints when we reach out with questions both theoretical and practical. They’ll help us think outside our own box. Sometimes they’ll disagree with us (or with each other), and that too will be for the sake of heaven.

We’re starting with a group of eleven extraordinary individuals, anticipating that our Sounding Board will grow over time. Members of our Sounding Board teach at or lead multiple seminaries and institutions of higher education, among them Yeshivat Maharat, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Academy for Jewish Religion (NY), Vancouver Theological Seminary, the ALEPH Ordination Programs, and Washingon University at St. Louis.

One member of our Sounding Board is a co-founder of the National Havurah Committee, an organization that for decades has been revitalizing Jewish living and learning. Some are spiritual entrepreneurs who have founded new communities, paradigms, and institutions, from The Well to Hevria to to Hineni: the Mindful Heart Community. Some are leaders in congregational contexts. Some are mystics, contemplatives, teachers, writers. All are builders.

We’re honored that this group of amazing individuals is willing to think with us, brainstorm with us, argue with us, and expand our perspectives as we build. Welcome, Sounding Board.

2 replies
  1. Chazzan Randall Miller
    Chazzan Randall Miller says:

    What a wonderful idea. I would hope that all of us will be able to contribute ideas, as we make Bayit our home. I like a big tent, with respect for new and different ideas. RebZalman once said, “ In times of rapid change, experience can be your worst teacher”. May Bayit have the strength and vision to explore new ideas for the new paradigm. These are all tools for the long transition. Baruch HaShem!

    • velveteenrabbi
      velveteenrabbi says:

      Absolutely, Hazzan Randall — we welcome ideas, contributions, suggestions. Ben Zoma said, “Who is wise? One who learns from everyone.” We look forward to bouncing ideas off of our many hevre (you included!) and to drawing on all the wisdom we can collectively bring together. Thank you for building with us!

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