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Sacred Partners

It is hard to believe that we are already approaching Thanksgiving. While this past year has certainly had its significant challenges for all of us, there is also so much to be grateful for. For me, much of my gratitude stems from the opportunity to join such an incredible community and to work with each of you and your children every day.

I am incredibly grateful to my ECRS Leadership team – the ideas and support that they have already generated are moving us forward in significant ways! I am excited to share that Liz Cohen, Erin Copland, and I recently completed a cohort program through the Union for Reform Judaism called Sacred Partners in Education. Sacred Partners in Education is a congregational networking group for Reform congregations that are seeking to build meaningful relationships between their educators and lay leaders. The cohort included both lay leaders and professionals representing the education teams from 10 Reform congregations around the country.

Through this initiative, Liz, Erin, and I met with education leaders from other area congregations to learn, share ideas, workshop new strategies, and reflect on new URJ thought leadership. We also gained access to the URJ’s professional staff and expert consultants, some of the most renowned thought leaders in their fields.

As a team, we were excited to experiment with two key URJ beliefs; first, that sacred partnership, the holy relationship between lay and professional leaders, is a key ingredient of successful congregational life. And second, that strong education models are crucial for congregations who strive towards deeper relationships, meaning, and impact.

This was a meaningful and impactful experience for each of us, which deepened our relationships as we continue our work together. In addition, it broadened our perspectives of the opportunities ahead of us for ECRS by learning about the new directions that the URJ is headed as well as having the space and time to connect with colleagues across the country. We are grateful to have participated and excited to see what will still be to come from the conversations that we had!


Mandy Herlich, RJE

Director of Emanuel Congregation Religious School


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