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Coming Out in a Jewish Community: How Our Congregation Embraces LGBTQ Teenagers



On the bimah during his confirmation, twelfth grader Sean Cooper recounted his coming out experience: When I came out as a homosexual, I posted a picture to Facebook with my father, with the caption “….”. While some may have previously inferred my sexual orientation, that post was my first official public coming out. The next […]

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Why We Closed Our Synagogue’s Preschool and Started Over from Scratch



by Rachel Stein As a former preschool teacher and director, I was enjoying my role as a parent and lay leader on the “other side” in our preschool at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, IL. As my two boys happily made their way through our small preschool, I chaired the parent committee and volunteered […]

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5 Tips for Networking with Other Synagogue Leaders



by Luisa Narins Stranger danger! We have been taught to embrace this phrase since we were children, but how does it affect our relationships as adults? Strangers can be inherently dangerous, and it is difficult to open up and meet new people. I moved to the United States for college with no family around me. […]

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3 Ways to Build LGBTQ-Inclusive Communities



Already this month, we have celebrated inclusion in its many forms: making congregations accessible to those with disabilities, highlighting women’s stories in the Torah and Talmud, breaking the Jewish glass ceiling for women, and of course, celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month. Women of Reform Judaism was ahead of its time and the entire Reform Movement in […]

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5 Great Deals and Discounts Your Congregation Can Only Get Through the URJ



Calling all congregational leaders! Are you interested in ways to enhance the day-to-day operations of your sacred institutions, improve efficiencies, and reduce expenses? Through the Union for Reform Judaism’s Congregational Benefits and Services program, URJ member congregations have access to meaningful discounts on a number of products and services at discounted prices. These deals, available […]

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Op-ed: “Conventional Wisdom Has Shifted” Regarding Congregational Life



Amy Asin, vice president of strengthening congregations for the URJ, has an op-ed in eJewish Philanthropy aptly titled “Strengthening Congregations,” highlighting the many ways the URJ is helping its 900 congregations across North America grow and flourish. Asin writes, A lot of attention is paid these days to innovative start-ups in the Jewish world. And […]

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June 17: Join Us for a Live Online Q&A About High Holiday Hospitality



Early last month, the URJ hosted its very first “YamJam in The Tent,” a live, moderated Q&A session in the URJ’s online collaborative social media platform, The Tent. URJ moderators posed questions, and everyone in virtual attendance has the opportunity to respond to share information and expertise. Our first YamJam focused on the different ways […]

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18+ Ways to Make LGBT Members Feel Welcome in Your Congregation



June is here, and in honor of LGBT Pride Month, we’re sharing suggestions for welcoming LGBTQ members into your congregation and community. Do you have ideas to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below! Celebrate Gay Pride Month (June) with a special Shabbat service. Invite LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer) members […]

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Summertime Forever: 11 Ways Your Congregation Can Support Its Campers



As the academic year comes to a close, we’ve rounded up resources for your congregation to stay connected with your campers throughout the summer. The tips and resources here will assist your congregation in leveraging the learning, joy and relationships developed at camp during the summer. We hope you find a few of these recommendations […]

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The 3 Keys to Connecting to a Congregational Community



by Andy Wayne As the cake arrived, glowing with candles, the group of nearly 40 women began to sing “Happy Birthday” to the lone man at the table. Their smiles lit up the room as their voices came together in celebration. True, they had only met the man two days before, but their happiness and […]

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Strategies for Success: Reviewing Membership Materials



by Janet Buckstein Most membership-based organizations, including congregations and temple sisterhoods, use a variety of methods to communicate with current and prospective members. These may include printed and online material, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and even phone calls, presentations, and personal meetings. However, the standard material typically includes brochures/pamphlets, letters, membership forms […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Shavuot: Celebration and Obligation



In just a few days, we will conclude this year’s counting of the Omer with the celebration of Shavuot, the first of our tradition’s three annual pilgrimage festivals, and the one that has come to be associated with the giving of Torah atop Mt.Sinai, as well as with confirmation and post b’nai mitzvah study. The […]

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This Month in The Tent: Engaging Families with Young Children



“Sooner. Stronger. Deeper. Longer.” That’s the motto that guides Nancy Bossov through her work as an early childhood education and engagement professional. Now the director of early childhood education at Temple Israel in New Rochelle, N.Y., Nancy came up with this motto while serving as the director of early childhood education at the Board of […]

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YamJam in The Tent: A Real-Time Resource for Synagogue Leaders



As summer looms, congregational leaders are thinking about how to welcome potential members into our synagogues. What do they see when they visit our websites? What do they hear when they call the temple office? Who do they meet when they walk through the lobby during their first visit? How can we give everyone who […]

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