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Three Great Congregational Programs that Tackle the Challenge of Demographic Diversity



Today’s congregations face a wide range of changing demographics. Many communities are experiencing a geographic shift, as older adults age in place, families move into new suburban areas, and younger Jews flock to revitalized downtown areas. As a result, members of local Jewish communities are often in completely disparate locations, providing synagogues with both an […]

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What My Vacation Taught Me About Audacious Hospitality



by Frieda Hershman Huberman Vacation enables us to reflect, rejuvenate, recharge our batteries, and look at life from a fresh perspective – and sometimes, it’s the actual vacation experience itself that becomes a learning opportunity. While on a short getaway this summer, I gleaned new insights on audacious hospitality, one of the Reform Movement’s top […]

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14 Ways to Make Your High Holidays Services Accessible to Everyone



A sweet new year begins with audacious hospitality, making sure everyone feels welcome in the Jewish community. As part of High Holiday preparation, congregations can take a number of simple steps to help create an accessible and sacred space for people of all abilities so that everyone can fully participate. Ask people what they need. […]

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The Loss of “Matterness” in Synagogue Life: An Interview with Allison Fine



Allison Fine, past president of Temple Beth Abraham in Tarrytown, N.Y., is the co-author of The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change (with Beth Kanter); author of Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age; and, most recently, author of Matterness: Fearless Leadership for a Social World. You have said that synagogues […]

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Comedy, Disability, and the Inclusive Synagogue: An ELI Talk



Pam Schuller is my hero. She’s not just my hero because she’s one of the outstanding Reform Jewish youth professionals who works day and night to connect with so many of teens and congregations in NFTY’s Garden Empire Region (which includes central and northern New Jersey and New York’s Rockland and Orange counties). She’s not […]

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The Ripple Effects of Meaningful Peer-to-Peer Mentorship



By Rabbi Laura Novak Winer When I recently asked a group of colleagues to help me think about examples from pop culture in which teens mentor other teens, we found it surprisingly difficult to come up with genuine examples. In the movie Clueless (1995), Cher (Alicia Silverstone) becomes the self-appointed fashion mentor to a new […]

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5 Innovative Ways to Engage Young Adults in Jewish Life



It’s no secret that engaging millennials in congregational life requires innovative and creative thinking. While former generations of American Jews engaged in congregational life in traditional ways, today’s Jewish young adults in their 20s and 30s want to craft their own Jewish journeys. The Union for Reform Judaism has been partnering with congregations across North […]

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6 Ways to Make Everyone Feel Comfortable at Worship Services



How can congregations make their worship experience welcoming to prospective members and visitors? Attendees addressed that question in a recent workshop at the URJ’s Had’rachah Seminar, where lay leaders of small congregations gathered to learn to lead worship services and certain lifecycle events in order to strengthen their congregations. Though Had’rachah participants came from congregations […]

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10 Ways to Welcome Teens at the High Holidays



Looking for innovative opportunities to engage your teens around the High Holidays? These 10 ideas come directly from the source – youth professionals across North America.

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Sacred Giving: How Reform Congregations are Reimagining Financial Support



Nearly every congregation today faces the challenge of trying to increase or stabilize revenue, so it’s no surprise that in the last few weeks alone, the Jewish press published three separate pieces on the subject: eJewishPhilanthropy shared an overview of the changing landscape and what that may look like for particular synagogues. They explain the […]

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This Month in The Tent: No Summer Slowdown Here!



Much of the world slows down during the summer, and even synagogues aren’t the hustling, bustling places they typically are during the rest of the year. Nonetheless, conversations continue unabated in The Tent, the URJ’s online communication and collaboration forum. Many of the current discussions focus on planning for 5776, with these conversations proving especially […]

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Announcing the Hire of April Baskin, URJ Vice President of Audacious Hospitality



Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, announced today that April Baskin will join the URJ’s executive leadership team as Vice President of Audacious Hospitality. Baskin’s role is crucial to the ongoing implementation of the URJ’s strategic 2020 Vision plan, and the final staffing decision within a realignment of executive roles that is […]

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Boomers in Transition: How Our Synagogue Meets the Needs of New Empty Nesters



by Fran Martin It had the makings of a perfect storm. In 2008, I joined Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia. That same summer, at a synagogue get-together of BoomeRS – members who gather for social, spiritual, and educational opportunities at Rodeph Shalom and beyond – many in the group realized they all had children who […]

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The 7 Vital Signs of a Healthy Congregation



by Ron Wolfson As one who has worked in the field of synagogue transformation for more than 20 years, I am often asked, “What are the vital signs of a healthy congregation?” Here are seven vital signs I look for in taking the pulse of a community:

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