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September 1, 2015 | 17th Elul 5775
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Small Congregations Conference

Emily Grotta


Although small in size, congregations with fewer than 250 households comprise more than half the 918 congregations in the Reform Movement - which is why hundreds of lay leaders and rabbis from across North America will gather in St. Louis May 1-4 for the UAHC Small Congregations Conference.

Designed to help the leaders of these congregations meet the special challenges they face, the conference is an opportunity for learning, schmoozing, worshiping, singing, and treasuring the opportunity to spend a weekend in the company of a large Jewish community. The program includes more than 40 workshops on topics integral to life in small congregations, such as synagogue music, encouraging volunteerism and commitment to Israel, managing religious schools and budgets, and how to cope with messianic Jews in the community.

"Small congregations are the heart and soul of our Movement," said Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, director of program for the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. "Because these congregations do not have large staffs and budgets, their members must be knowledgeable about every aspect of congregational life."

Organized around the theme "Telling Our Stories: A Celebration of Jewish Life," the conference will provide opportunities for the rabbis and lay leaders of these communities to share their experiences and celebrate their uniqueness.

Among the senior staff members who will be at the conference are:

  • Rabbi Lennard R. Thal, Senior Vice President, UAHC
  • Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, Director of Program, UAHC
  • Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
  • Dale Glasser, M.A., MSW, Director, UAHC Department of Synagogue Management
  • Cantor Alane Katzew, Director of Music Programming, UAHC
  • Rabbi Jan Katzew, Director, Jewish Education, UAHC
  • Rabbi Janise Poticha, Director Israel Matters, ARZA/WORLD UNION, North America
  • Rabbi Lane Steinger, Director, UAHC Midwest Council
  • Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman, Director, UAHC Department of Religious Living and Synagogue Music

Special guests at the convention will be performers Rick Recht and Judith Caplan Ginsburgh; Arthur Strimling, Storyteller-in-Residence; and Yachad, the Traveling T'filah Band.

The convention begins at noon Thursday, May 1, with a special pre-convention presentation on Jewish pathways through grief to healing and concludes on Sunday. For additional information and information about registration, visit the Small Congregations Web site.


The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. UAHC services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.


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