Organizing for the High Holidays

As you’re gathering momentum (or just starting) to prepare for the holidays, allow me to recommend something a tad bold and different, but which should help mightily.

Does this describe your situation? (1) Many events to orchestrate and coordinate; (2) Several people, and several committees, with varying responsibilities; (3) A mix of professional staff, office personnel, clergy, and off-site volunteers, all with different tasks and ideas; (4) a flood of emails roaring across the landscape, some with too narrow an audience, some with too wide an audience.

What to do?  Suggestion–open a Slack channel.  

What is Slack?  It’s a tool to collaborate online.  Everyone involved in planning for the holidays (or for any large event, for that matter), can be a member of the Slack channel, and can post questions and answers, by topic.  For example, you could set up topics such as Seating, Children’s Services, and Assignment of Honors.

Let’s spell out a few advantages of this way of collaborating:

— All communications happen in one place, segmented by topic.

— All content can be searched from one location.

— If there are documents to be shared, that can also be done within Slack–even if you use tools like Google Docs or Dropbox to house them.

— If the need arises for private communication, that can be accommodated within Slack.

— There are iPhone and Android apps for Slack; thus, team members don’t need to be in front of a PC to fully participate.

If your holiday preparations flow smoothly, and coordinating among the widely varied participants poses no challenge–well, keep doing what you’re doing. Otherwise, consider giving this intuitive, popular tool a try.

Please feel free to subscribe to this blog, using the form in the panel on the right.  Or, if you’d like to join our own Slack channel,, drop us a line.






Free web hosting for affiliates of URJ

Last week’s post mentioned free web hosting available for affiliates of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism.  Fortunately, there is a parallel offering for affiliates of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).

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Free web hosting for affiliates of USCJ

The reader should be aware that the USCJ (United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism) offers free web hosting for its affiliates.  In addition, they make available about half a dozen free WordPress themes.

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What to consider when evaluating software

Whether acquiring software initially to solve an unmet need, or considering replacement for an existing, but inadequate solution, here are several ideas to consider and evaluate:

  • How would conversion to the software happen?  For example, can data be initially loaded via spreadsheet, or must it be entered manually?
  • Can data within the system be easily downloaded into a usable format for analysis within spreadsheet programs?
  • What are the ongoing maintenance costs, considering (a) licensing, (b) hardware, (c) vendor support?
  • To what extent does the software integrate with others that you may be using, such as accounting programs, scheduling applications, email, and text messaging?
  • If the application handles credit cards, is it compliant with PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards?
  • What is involved with adding users?
  • How are upgrades handled?
  • To what extent is the vendor willing and able to enhance the software to better serve your work processes?

Seven reasons to use cloud software

  • Nothing to install on desktop/laptop machines
  • No server software to maintain and, eventually, replace
  • Saves the cost of having a local hardware company maintain and patch your on-premises machine
  • Software upgrades available automatically–no local upgrades required
  • Device independence
  • Frees you from having to perform periodic backups and having data available in case of a contingency event
  • Hardware sizing can grow and shrink according to need