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  • Writer's pictureSara Zober

Questions About Synagogue Tech

Technology didn't used to be so hard. Yes, tech is wonderful when it works, but one thing I've realized is that for every implementation of a kind of technology, we end up creating more work for ourselves.

For example: We move the synagogue to Google Workspace. We gain all sorts of integration and lots of widgets help us do amazing stuff with the many different things we use - Google Forms integrates with our website to take sign-ins for the Passover seder, Classroom helps me deliver my Google Slides with Hebrew review on it to my Hebrew students. We track everything from budgets to service outlines on Google Sheets.

Look at all the functionality! But wait!

Google Slides works well for our religious school lesson plans and Hebrew review, but it isn't robust enough for us to create our Virtual Siddurim. We're still using PowerPoint for that. No problem, I'll just add a directory of our PowerPoint services to the front of the Service Outline spreadsheet. Easy fix. Now everything is still in one place, despite the fact that we're working cross-platform. It's a little clunky, but workable.

Next, we move our payroll logs to Google Sheets. It makes it easy to share one sheet with the B'nai Mitzvah Tutor team so they can log their hours, and another with the Religious School Director so they can log their team's hours and sub hours. Then, without exchanging a single email, the Temple Admin can go into the sheet at month end and just transfer everything over to our payroll in Rakefet.

But what about our B'nai Mitzvah Program itself? We have a (relatively) set list of tasks and team members who work on these major projects, and what we really need is project management software that will allow us to create a B'nai Mitzvah Template and then modify it from there. We need Gantt charts and the ability to attach resources to tasks and assign tasks and set deadlines with automatic reminders. And it needs to be easy enough that the harried parent of a 12 year old can do it while juggling everything else they're doing. There's nothing like that in Google.

There's nothing like that anywhere, honestly. ClickUp is hugely intimidating. Asana is much easier to use, but has limitations to their free version and once you hit that limitation (like >15 team members), it gets pricey (we're talking over $10 per team member per month pricey). That doesn't work even for a small synagogue like mine, because each b'nai mitzvah family would be its own team member (and ideally parents and kids would be separate so they can each get their own tasks).

So here I sit, wracking my brain. I know Sheets should be able to take care of some of this. Just gotta keep poking at it, I guess.

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