Who is eligible to apply?

JOIN is accepting applications for synagogue clergy in:
St. Louis, MO
Miami, FL

Exceptions may be made for clergy not in pulpits who have a clear constituency. Alumni of JOIN’s programs as well as other organizing training are encouraged to apply.

How did JOIN determine who will be accepted? 

Applicants are asked to fill out a short application and may be asked to have a follow up conversation with a JOIN organizer.  JOIN will not be running the fellowship in all the locations above.  We will select four of the hubs above based on:

  • Having at least 5-7 clergy ready for and dedicated to the program
  • Finding and reaching an agreement with a local community wide organization that crosses lines of religion, race, and class to work with the clergy and their institutions and connect them to other leaders

We find that Jewish clergy are far more likely to be successful in their organizing if there are other local Jewish leaders also organizing and if they have a partner to work with.  

What if I’m really interested in the program and live in a different city than where the Fellowship is being run? 

We would be interested in talking about other ways JOIN could support your work, such as enrolling your congregants in our online course, Don’t Kvetch, Organize! or contracting for training or mentoring.  And we would gladly work with you to prepare your area to be a strong applicant in the following round of the fellowship.

How much does it cost and why?

Participants are asked to pay $750 plus travel costs to two retreats at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Maryland. The full value to the clergy of the training and coaching provided to clergy and their congregants is approximately $10,000 per congregation. Travel subsidies are available for those who need it. 

What is the timetable for the program?

August 2020 Applicants accepted and assigned to local cohorts

January, 2021 National training retreat for clergy in fellowship, and meet

     with organizers from their partner organizations

February, 2021 

    • Clergy begin receiving monthly coaching
    • Clergy begin recruiting leaders for core teams

March – April 2021

  • First of bi-monthly virtual trainings
  • JOIN begins to support clergy as they build a core leadership team, conduct a power analysis, begin to build relationships with leaders from other communities and work with their partner organization

May 2021 clergy begin to build relationships with non-Jewish clergy and other leaders

May-June, 2021 Synagogue core teams begin to meet with teams from partner organization

Summer/fall 2021 – through winter and spring, 2022 Clergy and lay teams begin to move into action with partners

June 2022 National training and ending retreat for clergy in fellowship and close of the program

What are the expectations? The fellowship is an intensive training and we expect all fellows to participate in all aspects fully including:

  • Attending two in-person Retreats, January of 2021 and June of 2022 
  • Participating in monthly executive coaching calls with JOIN staff
  • Participating in 1.5 hour-long, interactive virtual trainings every other month:
  • Engaging with a local community organization that works for the common good across lines of difference; beginning by meeting with other leaders and moving to participating in community-wide campaigns in ways that suit your institution and benefit the campaign.

What is the time commitment?

The formal time the fellowship calls for is relatively minimal – over 18 months, there are two retreats, monthly one hour coaching calls, bi-monthly one and a half hour training webinars, and three times being shadowed and supported by an organizer.

Beyond that, how much time you spend is up to you.  Meeting with a local organizer and other leaders, organizing a leadership team, and working with all of them on a campaign are critical pieces of the fellowship and will take time, but you will determine how much time and your schedule.

What will I gain from this experience? 

Clergy will gain the skills, tools, and relationships that they will draw on to make a real difference. Participants complete the fellowship understanding: how power works in your own institution and the world around you; propositioning and developing leaders and working with successful leadership teams; strategic campaign planning; uniting a community around a common mission; and, building relational power across different communities.

In addition to extensive learning and training, clergy will complete the fellowship with

  • a more highly organized institution
  • a leadership team to work with them for their common goals
  • a sophisticated power analysis of their community
  • relationships with leaders from other communities across lines of race, ethnicity, income, and religion
  • relationships between synagogue lay leaders and leaders from other communities
  • the opportunity to act for justice and live out our values
  • colleagues across the country doing similar work

In this particular national moment, these skills and opportunities are more vital than ever.

How is this program different from other organizing trainings? What if I took a class in seminary or have been trained by my clergy association?

Many people approach leadership as something one does “to people”; rabbis are encouraged to come up with their vision and drag everyone else along. We understand leadership as weaving a web of relationships between people that enables them to act powerfully and be much more than the sum of their parts. While we are certainly not the only program to believe this, we combine high-level training, support building a leadership team to work with you, and support as you connect with leaders and a community organization. Because “it is not good for a person to be alone,” these relationships offer a much greater opportunity. We also combine a commitment to justice with an understanding that successful organizing must speak to your, your leaders’ and institution’s interests and help you strengthen your own community as you work to strengthen the world around us.

Clergy who have already been trained in organizing will go through some review (which hopefully will still be generative). They will benefit from the fellowship’s additional support and training; coaching that helps them reach an even higher level, the focus on helping build a stronger base of support among the membership, and the opportunity to be in relationship with other clergy across the country from all the denominations with similar goals and dreams.

This sounds interesting.  I’m skeptical but open to trying it out.

Great! However, this program is for clergy who have decided that they ready to organize in their communities. We would love to talk to you about your interest and discuss whether or not this program is the right fit or another of JOIN’s opportunities would be better. Please email Jeannie Appleman at jappleman@joinforjustice.org to discuss this further.

What if I change jobs?

For organizing to take root and our fellows to really move towards the change they want to see, we expect our fellows to be settled in their current place of employment, understand the dynamics at play and have the relationships necessary to move the work forward. We are open to a conversation with interested applicants, should a job change be on the immediate horizon; in particular situations, it may make sense to make an exception.

What if I’ve already done a lot of social justice work, is this for me?

This fellowship will support clergy, both those with more and less experience, working on social justice issues to bringing people together to identify as a community, name common concerns or goals, and work collectively to meet them. This is a fellowship designed to develop your organizing skills- no matter where you are on the learning curve.  You will learn from the experience, from clergy with more experience than you, and from offering your insights to clergy with less experience. 

But I don’t see myself as a social justice rabbi or cantor.

If you were just a social justice rabbi or cantor, you’d be only living out one small part of your ministry.  And if we only worked with rabbis and cantors for whom social justice was one of the most important parts of their work, we wouldn’t work with enough people to make a difference or transform our own community.  People have been organizing forever, and have learned that you can make a real difference without giving your life over to it, as long as you are in relationship with others, have a strategy, and hold yourself accountable.  

I’m not sure all of my congregants will support this.

Honestly, do all of your congregants support anything? Organizing isn’t about reaching 100% consensus, or about browbeating people into pretending they’ve reached consensus.  Organizing is about bringing a community together to act on things that many of them hold dear in a way that reflects the community’s identity, while still honoring and relating to those who disagree.  Clergy who learn organizing skills become more adept at navigating these challenges. 

This sounds good to me.  How do I apply?

Please go to http://www.joinforjustice.org/programs-projects/clergy-fellowship/apply/ to access the application.  If you have additional questions not covered here, please email us at jappleman@joinforjustice.org