Your First Dayenu Circle Meeting

In this resource:

Get ready to kick off your Dayenu Circle

Now that you’ve taken steps to launch your Dayenu Circle, we want to help you prepare for your Circle’s first meeting. Whether you’re gathering virtually or in-person, your meeting is a great opportunity for your Circle’s members to get to know one another, ground yourselves in your Circle’s purpose and Dayenu’s principles, and start your climate action work together.

This resource will help you and your co-leaders plan your first meeting and craft an agenda.

Before you begin, learn more about Dayenu Circles and Dayenu’s work.

Nail down your meeting logistics

By now, you’ve probably already figured out a date, time, and location for your meeting (if you haven’t yet, check out our “Launching Your Dayenu Circle” resource for more). If you’re meeting virtually, we encourage you to check out these online meeting tips from 350.org. Here are a few additional things to consider as you plan:

  1. Food:
    • If you’re meeting in-person, be sure you have a plan for snacks, beverages, or a shared meal. You may decide to ask members to bring their own food and drink, coordinate a shared food order for everyone, or ask folks to contribute a snack or beverage potluck-style. It’s up to you! To add a level of intention to sharing food together, you may offer a blessing of gratitude for the food.
    • If you’re meeting virtually, you may extend an invitation for people to eat or enjoy a beverage together on your call, especially if it occurs during mealtime. In fact, a blessing over the food and/or “toast” can be a great way to add spirit to a virtual meeting.
  2. Materials:
    • An agenda: Make sure to share an agenda with everyone either before or at the start of your meeting. If you’re meeting in-person, be sure to print enough copies for everyone; if meeting virtually, then you can share a document digitally.
    • Notetaking materials: Remind everyone to bring what they need to take notes, though of course note-taking is not mandatory. For at least your first meeting, one of the Circle’s leaders can be responsible for taking notes that you can share out with everyone afterwards.
  3. Technology:
    • If you’re meeting virtually, or are planning to have some of your members call in to the meeting remotely while the rest of you meet in person, it’s important to test your technology beforehand. Do your members know how to use your virtual meeting technology (like Google Hangouts or Zoom)? Make sure everyone is clear on how to join the meeting and provide assistance where needed.
  4. Meeting Reminders:
    • Send out reminders to those you’ve invited to the Circle meeting, including the date, time, and location of the meeting. If your Circle is based within an organization or community, you may be able to include a short message about the upcoming meeting in a newsletter or on social media.
Plan your meeting agenda

As you and your co-leaders plan your first meeting’s agenda, we recommend including the following:

Definitely include:

Introductions (15 minutes). Start the meeting by having each member introduce themselves to the group. You can offer up a prompt, such as, “Please share your name, and one sentence to describe how you got here.” (This prompt is deliberately vague and enables people to answer in a variety of ways: “I biked here.” or “I know the co-leaders.” or “I am passionate about climate action.”)

You and your co-leaders should introduce yourselves first to model what it looks like to keep your responses to one sentence; you can then go around in a circle, or if meeting virtually, you can call on the first person to introduce themselves, and instruct them to pick the next person, and so on, until everyone has spoken.

Circle goals (20-30 minutes). Open a conversation about why people are showing up to the Circle. It can be incredibly meaningful to hear everyone’s answers, and will help your Circle start to articulate a set of goals for action. Feel free to use the following prompts to kick off the conversation:

  • “What about the climate crisis is of greatest concern to you?”
  • “What does it make you think about? How does it make you feel?”
  • “Are there particular kinds of action you are hoping this Circle may take to confront the climate crisis – nationally and locally?”
  • “Are there things you are hoping to gain or learn through your Dayenu Circle experience?”

After the meeting, your co-leaders can synthesize everyone’s input and identify the common themes in order to articulate a set of goals that you can then share with the group for further input. Depending on what people shared, some of your goals may include, “Join Dayenu’s Green Recovery campaign,” or “Volunteer with Dayenu to get out the vote before November 3rd,” or “Work alongside local climate justice groups to amplify their efforts in the Jewish community and beyond.”

Be sure to keep in mind (and share with your members) that your Circle’s goals will evolve as your circle’s work evolves; there’s no need to get them “perfect”!

Action opportunity (10-30 minutes). Before the meeting, identify a climate action for your members to do right away. This will motivate people and help your Circle tap into impactful action right off the bat. Here are some ways to identify climate actions:

  • Check out Dayenu’s Green Recovery campaign or Dayenu.org for action ideas, or email info@dayenu.org to learn more about current or emerging campaigns your Circle can become part of.
  • You can also reach out to local climate action campaigns and organizations in your neighborhood, city, or state and determine how your Circle could participate. Generating local action alongside Dayenu’s national actions can diversify your Circle’s activities and ground it in your local community.

Depending on the action, you can either create time during the meeting to tackle it together (for instance, you can record videos or write letters to your representatives), or you can simply provide background and instructions for the action, and encourage your members to do it in the days following the meeting. These discrete actions should be connected to larger local, state or national campaigns that confront the climate crisis systemically.

You may also decide to include:

  • Opening and closing ritual (1-10 minutes). Opening (and closing) your Dayenu Circle’s meetings with a group ritual can create meaning, and enable everyone to show up with more presence. Maybe you open by encouraging everyone to take a few deep breaths together; maybe you start the meeting by singing a song, or offering an inspirational quote or Jewish text that can set the tone for the meeting; maybe you close by asking each member to go around and share one word about how they feel. It’s up to you!
  • Introduction from organizational leadership (5 minutes). If your circle is housed within an organization, you may want to invite a member of the organization’s leadership (such as the rabbi, president, CEO, board chair, or lead educator) to offer an introduction on why the organization cares about the climate crisis, and what’s compelling to them about a Dayenu Circle.
  • Jewish inspiration, blessing, song or learning (1-10 minutes). There are many ways to weave Jewish learning and wisdom into your Circle’s meeting. If you have a rabbi or educator present, you can ask them to offer up a brief teaching about the weekly Torah portion or a Jewish text, and how it relates to the climate crisis. You can also offer a blessing to open or close the meeting, like the Shehechiyanu (which is often said at the start of something new), or a blessing that acknowledges the holiness of the earth.

Here’s a powerful song about climate justice written Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman called “The Tide is Rising.”

You can find lyrics, chords, and more about “The Tide is Rising” on Shoshana’s website.

Determine your next steps

Now that you’ve got your agenda in ship-shape, make sure to follow up on your first meeting’s success:

  1. Plan a date and location for your next meeting. Your Circle may decide to keep your meeting dates consistent (for example, the second Tuesday of each month) to avoid scheduling each subsequent meeting; otherwise, you can send out a Doodle poll to determine everyone’s mutual availability. You can also select a location or create a virtual meeting link for the next meeting.
  2. Send a “Next Steps” message to your Circle. After your meeting, regroup with your co-leaders to synthesize the meeting notes and identify next steps for your Circle members. These may include:
    • More detailed information about how to execute your Circle’s first climate action;
    • Information and RSVP for the next meeting;
    • A prompt for members to recruit new people to the Circle; and
    • A list of the synthesized goals you and your co-leaders created.
  3. Check in with Dayenu. We’d love to hear how your first meeting went! Email us at info@dayenu.org, and we can help answer your questions and plug your circle into more national climate actions and campaigns. As always, we’re here to help.