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September 3, 2015 | 19th Elul 5775
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Reform Movement Honors Congregations for Adult Study Programs
Winning Programs Published in New Adult Study Guide

Four Reform congregations were recognized for their outstanding adult education programs at the Union for Reform Judaism’s 68th Biennial Convention, held in Houston in November. The “Congregation of Learners Award” from the Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning recognizes synagogues that provide an atmosphere of exceptional varied and comprehensive adult learning.An additional five congregations received honorable mentions for their programming. 

The winning congregations received $150 worth of books and merchandise relating to adult Jewish learning from the URJ Press, and their programs have been included in “Building Congregations of Learners: Best Practices in Adult Study 2005,” a guide that may be downloaded at

“While every congregation that submitted an application presented programs that they were justifiably proud of, the four congregations that the judges singled out have demonstrated a true systemic change in their approach to adult learning, with clergy and lay leadership working together to achieve this,” said Francie Schwartz, the Union’s adult learning coordinator.

“From creating a monthly series of ‘Havdalah and’ programs that bring congregants together on Shabbat afternoon to designing ‘A Full Course of Judaism: More than a Taste,’ a nine-session class that includes appropriate food and music geared toward each session’s topic, these congregations have transformed themselves into genuine cultures of learning,” Schwartz added.

Established in 2003, the Congregation of Learners Award shines a spotlight on those congregations that have made adult learning a priority. Applicants were judged on their effectiveness in fulfilling adult Jewish learning goals and on their creativity, inclusiveness, Judaic content, educational method, replicability and integration with the values and vision of the congregation.

The winning congregations are: 

  • Temple Beth-El, Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Congregation Shir Tikvah, Troy, Michigan
  • Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts
  • Temple B’rith Kodesh, Rochester, New York

Honorable Mentions

  • Congregation B’nai Israel, Charleston, West Virginia
  • Temple Beth David, Commack, New York
  • Temple Beth-El, The Monroe Temple of Liberal Judaism, Monroe, New York
  • Temple Sinai, Oakland, California
  • Temple Sholom of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the synagogue arm of Reform Judaism in North America, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 920 congregations across the United States and Canada. Union programs and services include youth camps, music and book publishing, adult education opportunities, Outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.




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