Reaching Out for Success: 2007 Belin Outreach Awards Announced Ten Reform Congregations Earn North American Recognition for Programming
August 2, 2007 Ten congregations will be awarded $1,000 each for their outstanding programs to attract and integrate interfaith families into the lives of their community when the Union for Reform Judaism holds its biennial convention in San Diego this December 12-16.
The Belin Outreach Awards are designed to encourage and honor Reform congregations that develop and implement cutting edge, effective Outreach programs, explained Kathy Kahn, director of the Department of Outreach and Membership at the Union. Every two years we review hundreds of extraordinary programs for consideration. With so many programs from which to choose, the winners of this award represent the most creative and successful Outreach programs that our Movement has to offer.
The Union has been awarding Belin Outreach Awards since 1993, and the winning programs, as well as those that achieved honorable mention, are included in the Outreach and Membership Idea Books, which are resources used by congregations throughout the country.
Thanks to the vision of Rabbi Alexander Schindler (zl), former president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Outreach and welcoming the stranger has become one of the defining aspects of Reform Judaism, said Kahn. We have reclaimed the mitzvah of keruv, bringing near thousands of those who were far and bringing new life and vitality to our synagogues in the process.
The 10 winners of the 2007 Belin Outreach Awards are:
Temple Beth El of San Antonio, TX, for Some Jewish Heros Arent Jewish, a program to honor the non-Jewish parents raising Jewish children. Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom in Wyomissing, PA, for Three Evenings with the Rabbi, a program for spouses who are not Jewish to spend quality time with the rabbi. Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA , for No One Is More Welcomed at Congregation Or Ami Than You, a webpage that provides specific interfaith information for visitors. Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA, for From Generation to Generation: Staying Close to Our Intermarried Children and Our Grandchildren, a sensitive program addressing the needs congregants whose children are intermarrying and may not have not decided on a Jewish identity for their children. Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana, CA, for Ambassadors Program Unplugged which demonstrates how a congregation can transform ordinary members into trained ambassadors who welcome and integrate new members into the congregation. Temple Sinai in North Miami Beach, FL, for Mitzvah & Mingle for Those Who Are Single, a series of successful programs that reach out to this multi-age population. Temple Israel in Memphis, TN, for What I Want To Be When I Grow Up, a program that focuses on the opportunities for growth and exploration that come with maturity. Temple Israel in St. Louis, MO, for T.I.s That Bind, a program that gives every member the opportunity to offer a friend or family member the gift of a free, one year membership in the congregation. Congregation Micah of Bentwood, TN, for The Jacob Project, a very successful way to engage 20s and 30s in study and celebration throughout the Jewish year. Temple Emanuel in Birmingham, AL, for Spiritual Fitness, a program thats creative model service combines tradition with contemporary music and selected readings to offer those in their 20s and 30s a worship experience that is relevant and meaningful to them.
In addition, the following nine congregations were honored with honorable mentions:
Temple Beth Sholom, Santa Ana, CA Congregation B'nai B'rith, Santa Barbara, CA Temple Adat Elohim, Westlake Village, CA Congregation B'nai Israel & Temple Beth El, Boca Raton, FL Temple Jeremiah, Northfield, IL Temple Israel, Boston, MA Temple Israel, Minneapolis, MN Larchmont Temple, Larchmont, NY
Funded through the generosity of David Belin (zl), the first chairperson of the Joint CCAR-URJ Commission on Outreach (now Outreach and Membership),this award honors ten winning and honorably mentioned congregations every two years.
Winning programs include alternative approaches that create a supportive culture for a diverse community, membership integration and retention and programs and services that honor longer term members and were judged on their effectiveness in fulfilling its states goals, its creativity and the ease in which the program could be replicated. For more information about Belin Outreach Awards and other Outreach programs please visit www.urj.org/outreach.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly 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. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.