Jacob Ukeles will direct a new strategic planning effort at the Jewish Theological Seminary, according to an announcement today from the school. JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen named the planning process as a key plank of his efforts to steer the school through a challenging economic period, efforts he outlined in a letter earlier this week.
Ukeles, you may remember, was the guy who did a 2004 study for the United Synagogue, the Conservative movement’s congregational arm, which critics say the organization promptly shelved. Now he’s being brought in to do something similar for JTS.
I reached Eisen yesterday in his Chicago hotel and he described the planning effort as costing a "fair amount" of money, but a necessary amount nonetheless. He also pledged that the final report would be made public — United Synagogue has been regularly criticized for doing things quietly, without movement-wide buy-in.
Eisen also had warm words for Hayom, the recently launched coalition of clergy and laypeople that is trying to prod the movement forward, calling it a "positive step."
The strategic planning effort at JTS is expected to be completed by the fall.