Synagogue Membership the Focus of Fellowship Program Union for Reform Judaism Supports Life-Long Membership in Congregations
As part of its on going effort to help Reform congregations attract and retain members, the Union for Reform Judaism will hold the second annual Fellows Program for Membership Certification on March 22nd 25th in Cleveland, OH.
Working hand in hand with Reform congregations to help them sustain membership has been a major focus of the Union since Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union, focused on it during his 2005 Biennial sermon. Approximately one million North American Jews once belonged to a synagogue but no longer do. If we could put an end to this exodus, Jewish life would be immeasurably strengthened. While nearly 80 percent of North American Jews will join a synagogue at some point in their lives, almost 50 percent end their congregational affiliation within five years Rabbi Yoffie said.
It happens all too often, that individuals with no training in membership are placed in charge of recruitment, integration and retention of members; some of the most important responsibilities in synagogue life, said Kathy Kahn, the Unions director of Outreach and Membership. This program is designed to place tools into the hands of these dedicated volunteers and professionals.
The Membership Fellows program is targeted at membership chairs and professionals as well as temple administrators, presidents and board members. The four-day seminar will enable the participants to realistically evaluate how well ? or poorly ? their congregations welcome newcomers. They will learn best practices in the areas of programming and marketing, and will learn how to effectively organize a membership effort.
Outreach doesnt end once a new member is in the door, Kahn said. This is only the beginning of a members relationship with her new community. Integrating her into the congregation, helping her feel welcome, making sure her emotional, spiritual and intellectual needs are meet, are crucial to the strength of this new relationship.
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.