Regarding my "Owning the Rabbi" post, an anonymous commenter wrote:
One also finds the opposite situation: Rabbis "owning" the shul. That is, Board members voting against their true wishes for the shul policy position the Rabbi publicy supports.
I agree that this happens, but I'm not sure it's about rabbinic ownership of the shul. I suspect it's about two different kinds of membership: Supporters and Directors.
As a general rule, both Supporters and Directors want to have:
- a shul with a certain kind of davening and learning, and an approach to halachah that resonates with them;
- a shul community with programs they like and members whose company they enjoy;
- a Rabbi whose Torah and personality and leadership will guide/inspire/support them.
But Supporters and Directors seek to achieve their goals in different ways.
Supporters believe in hiring or appointing good personnel – Rabbi, office manager, president, etc – and empowering them to do their job as they see fit. Supporters help them carry out their initiatives. They take a Platonic, "The Republic" view of government; we elected these people because we believe they know what they are doing. And barring something egregious, the next time the Supporter will weigh in with an imperative is at contract time for paid employees, or election time for shul officers.
Directors, on the other hand, believe in guiding the shul's good personnel in their tasks, to ensure that their day-to-day performance is in-line with Director expectations. Directors weigh initiatives in terms of their own preferences and vision, and assist only if they approve; employees and officers are meant to carry out the Director's will, and imperatives can come at any time.
I'm not contending that either model is 'better' for an organization, just observing that both exist. I believe each has merits.
This dichotomy among members is not just about shuls, of course; this happens in families and schools and businesses, too. It happens in philanthropy; Supporter donors write a check because they believe the organization knows what to do with it, and Director donors write a check and tell the organization what to do with it.
Coming back to that anonymous comment, then: Supporter board members do exactly what the commenter noted, trusting the Rabbi to know what he is doing. Director board members, on the other hand, are more likely to write the letter that triggered my "Owning the Rabbi" post in the first place.