How the synagogue is managed

Beit Emanuel is a self-governing, democratic community, which runs its own affairs. All officials, including the rabbi, are subject to appointment by the community. All property is owned by the community. Many dedicated volunteers have spent years serving on the various committees of Beit Emanuel, for which they receive no payments. Three important committees administer the synagogue: the Management Committee, the Board of Guardians, and the Ritual Committee. Much of their work is done after hours and behind-the-scenes, but without it, the community would not function.


The Management Committee

The affairs of Beit Emanuel are primarily administered by the Management Committee, subject to ratification of certain issues by the Board of Guardians

The Management Committee is elected at an Annual General Meeting which receives a report-back on the affairs of the community, in particular its financial status. The Management Committee must consist of at least ten members and not more than fourteen members.

The Management Committee then elects out of its members an executive comprising the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and the Treasurer, who hold office for 1 year.

In addition to the elected members the following also sit on the Management Committee:

  • The Rabbi
  • The Operations Manager, who is a full-time member of staff in charge of the day-to-day administration of      the shul’s affairs
  • One Youth member, usually the Gauteng head of the youth movement Netzer
  • The Chairperson of the Care Committee


Any adult member Beit Emanuel who is in good standing is eligible to be elected to the Management Committee. Among the functions carried out by the committee are the interviewing and selection of full-time staff, including the rabbi and religion school head; setting of budgets; oversight of the property, in particular the kosher kitchens; organising of events including festivities, public lectures and the weekly Shabbat breakfast talks; fund-raising events; co-operation with sister synagogues and with the national SA Union for Progressive Judaism; rental arrangements with tenants; care of the gardens; marketing and communications, and more.


The Board of Guardians

The Board of Guardians consists of four guardians who are each elected for a 3 year term, as well as the Chairperson of the Congregation. Guardians must be members of long standing at Beit Emanuel and must have served on the Management Committee. Their function is to oversee certain of the major Management Committee decisions.

The Guardians’ duties encompass:

  • Involvement with the  appointment of Rabbis
  • Ensuring the continuation of affiliation in the Jewish Progressive Movement
  • Approval or rejection of high value financial transactions
  • Monitoring the acquisition or sale of the property and other high value assets

Ritual Committee

The religious affairs of Beit Emanuel are determined by the Ritual Committee. This committee comprises of the Rabbi and members of Beit Emanuel who are experienced and knowledgeable about Progressive Judaism and the religious requirements of Beit Emanuel.

The Ritual Committee’s duties encompass:

  • Overseeing all aspects of religious aspects of Beit Emanuel and to ensure the smooth running of      Synagogue services
  • Considering and deciding on the implementation and introduction of various aspects of Progressive Judaism
  • Supervision of the Choir
  • Overseeing the Religion School
  • Training of Lay Readers

Council of Elders

The Council of Elders is a new institution, an advisory body added to the constitution in 2014. The council is a seven-person body chosen by the Board of Guardians. Its members are former leaders of the congregation, now in retirement, whose expertise and institutional memory continue to be of value to the synagogue. The council may discuss and deliver opinions on any issue of relevance to Beit Emanuel affairs, but its role is purely advisory.

 See also: Names and titles of current officials of Beit Emanuel

Profile: Chairman of Beit Emanuel Diane Fine



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