The NCRCR Guidelines for Ongoing Mutual Review in the Synagogue


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The National Commission on Rabbinic-Congregational Relations (NCRCR) recognizes the need for rabbis and congregations to engage in constructive and mutual review. Based on its experience with Rabbinic-Congregational Relations, the NCRCR recommends a process whereby lay and rabbinic leaders can, on a frequent basis, evaluate how well they are progressing toward reaching mutually agreed upon goals.

This review should take place in the form of continuing, informal dialogue. The leadership team, lay and rabbinic, is engaged in a partnership to strengthen the synagogue and the Jewish people. The NCRCR recommends that the rabbi and synagogue president initiate and encourage this review process and that it be guided by the highest Jewish values.

The process should include leadership development, professional growth, increased understanding of goals and objectives, and the encouragement of a lay-rabbinic team effort in all congregational affairs. The NCRCR is opposed to using congregational surveys in the review process. Experience demonstrates that the survey method is a counter-productive review vehicle.

Since Board leadership changes frequently, we urge that continuity be maintained by insuring that at least some leaders participating in the process remain involved in the mutual review over a period of years.

The process should address the following factors:

  1.     Progress made toward priorities and objectives mutually agreed upon the previous year.
  2.     Interaction with others (i.e. with committees, trustees, officers, congregants, staff, etc.).
  3.     Administrative and planning skills, creativity and effectiveness in problem solving.
  4.     Areas of strength and achievements.
  5.     Areas for growth.
  6.     Development of mutually agreed upon goals and objectives to be achieved in the next synagogue year and a system for monitoring their progress.

The following are examples of some appropriate and helpful subjects that should be included in the review dialogue. These examples should be adjusted to the needs of the individual congregation's lay leaders and rabbi:

  •     What are the available opportunities for professional rabbinic growth and lay leadership development?
  •     What are the Congregation's priorities for the Rabbi? What are the Rabbi's priorities for the Congregation?
  •     What are some of the concerns expressed by congregants and staff regarding the functioning of the Congregation's clergy, staff, board and committees?
  •     How do the rabbinic and lay leadership feel about the congregational support that is available or unavailable for programs and projects?
  •     How should the lay and rabbinic leadership change their methods of functioning, in order to help the Congregation become more effective, more spiritual (Jewish/religious) and more relevant to the lives of the congregants and the fulfillment of the leaders?


The review process should include the mutual sharing of personal perspectives, such as:

  1.     What did the lay and rabbinic leadership enjoy most about their respective positions during the past year?
  2.     What did they enjoy least?
  3.     What aspects of their responsibilities could not be given adequate attention? Should these be re-prioritized? Should they be provided with additional resources to meet those responsibilities?


Adopted by the National Commission on Rabbinic-Congregational Relationships, January 1992