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Moving Our Community from a “Serve Us” to a “Service” Mentality



by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas I’ve had the privilege to learn from URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs on several occasions, the most recent of which was in January 2013 in Chicago. I was there, along with a lay partner, and representatives from a handful of other congregations to form the first cohort of the URJ’s […]

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Internet Round-Up: The Best Jewish Stories on the Web



Here are just a few of the recent stories from across the webosphere that speak directly to (and about) Reform Jews. What Jewish stories have you been reading recently? Leave a comment and let us know! “Reform and Conservative Camping Movements’ will Engage Synagogue Youth Year Round,” eJewish Philanthropy This week, the camping movements of […]

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Hitting a Home Run for the Temple



With a little ingenuity, my synagogue managed to combine fundraising and socializing at a recent event. The Long Island Ducks are an independent baseball team located in Suffolk county Long Island, part of the Atlantic League. Every year, the team invites groups to sing either the national anthem prior to the game or a mid-game […]

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Ten Commandments for Talking About Dues



by Rob Berkovitz If we examine carefully the ways in which we discuss dues with prospective members and respond to requests for dues adjustments, we discover that many times we do not act in ways that truly reflect the Jewish values we prize so dearly. The following “ten commandments” were created to engender discussion among […]

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Explaining Synagogue Dues to Those Who Are New



Synagogue dues can be difficult to understand if you weren’t raised in a family that maintained a synagogue membership. Without knowledge of the variety of mechanisms that all religious institutions use to sustain themselves financially, some charge that synagogues require you to “pay to pray.” What follows is one way that you might explain synagogue […]

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The New Synagogue Math: When We Hope That 1 Plus 1 is More Than 1 But Less Than 2



by Rabbi David Fine Changing demographics, declining religious school enrollment, troubled finances-a sure formula for frustration (to say the least). It could also be the prompt for thinking anew about the way we do business. This may not only be happening in our congregation, but also in our neighboring Jewish congregation. There will be those […]

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Fair Share Dues: Mishugas or Mitzvah?



by Lindsey Sadler This summer I experienced my first membership commitment recertification at Temple Sinai, Atlanta. As we operate on a fair share dues model, this is the time of year when we send our membership materials to congregants and ask them to strive towards contributing 2% of their annual gross household income minus costs […]

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I Have a Modest Proposal: Let Us Eliminate Synagogue Dues



by Rabbi Howard Jaffe Okay, it is not so modest. It may be a bit too ambitious. So how about this: can we at least rethink how we fund our synagogues? We need a new financial model in North American Jewish life. Once upon a time, Jews grew up, became young adults, almost always married […]

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Camp Newman and the True Meaning of the Word “Avodah”



(originally posted on the Camp Newman Blog) Our 11th grade program is described as the first step in our camp leadership programs.  The three pillars of the program include personal growth, service to the community, and service to the world.  These full summer campers participate in service blocks helping around camp by sorting mail, picking […]

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A Balanced Synagogue Budget – A Blessing



by Rick RosenbergExecutive Director, Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX Why Budget “Men plan; God laughs.”        – Hebrew Saying A budget is nothing more than a plan. A Synagogue budget is a financial plan for the operations of the congregation.  Numbers and statistics can be frightening to some people. But numbers are simply the end product […]

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You Don’t Need to Pass the Hat: You Just Need to Plan!



Twenty-eight years ago, Temple Aleph Bet (TBA), a 120 member congregation in a small city in the Northeast, decided it was through with renting space and was very desirous of a permanent home. TBA purchased its first building, and after a few years, funds were raised to pay off the initial mortgage as well as […]

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What’s the Difference Between a Business and a Sacred Community?



by Rabbi Edwin GoldbergTemple Judea, Coral Gables, FL Especially with the Jewish High Holy Days coming soon, it is appropriate to stop and consider the challenges confronting mainstream religious institutions. Looking at the present, it is not a surprise that American religious institutions are going through a crisis of identity. The old rules no longer apply. […]

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A Perfect Formula for Dues



by Rob BerkovitzURJ Congregational Finance Specialist The truth is… that there is no perfect formula for dues! There are many possibilities for dues models from fixed minimum models to fair share. All the models can be successful and can be unsuccessful. When the topic of dues comes up many congregational leaders struggle with the issue […]

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Planning High Holy Days Fundraising



by David KatowitzURJ Congregational Financial Resource Development Specialist. “It’s like one giant family reunion!” That is how Rabbi Mari Chernow of Temple Chai in Phoenix, Arizona described the High Holy Days in a You Tube video sent to her congregants last year a few weeks before Rosh HaShanah. Congregants at synagogues throughout North America and […]

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