NEW YORK--January 11, 2012-- Every two years, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Synagogue-Federation Relations Committee presents the Shutafim Award for Outstanding Federation/Synagogue Partnerships to three communities -- one small, one mid-sized, and one large -- in special recognition of their work with synagogues.
The UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and The Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts were given the awards at the URJ's recent Biennial convention, which took place in mid-December outside Washington, DC.
Ten other Federations received recognition for meritorious cooperation and mutual support including: Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks; Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta; Columbus Jewish Federation; Jewish Federation of Springfield, Illinois; Jewish Federation of Tulsa; Jewish Federation of New Mexico; Jewish Federation of Ft. Worth & Tarrant County; Jewish Federation of Broward County; Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
"The Shutafim-Partners Award Program is the Reform Movement's way of recognizing the important collaboration between the synagogue community and Federations," said Donald Leibowitz, chair of the URJ Synagogue-Federation Relations Committee.
Added Laurence Kaufman, who served as Committee chair during the award process, "These Jewish Federations are being honored not for what the Federation has done for the congregations, but for what these strong partnerships between the two most important institutions in American Jewish life, the synagogue and the Federation, have and will accomplish."
The Shutafim program takes into consideration both the ways Federations assist and support synagogues, and the ways synagogues support and collaborate with other synagogues and with Federations. Communities are selected through an open nominations process; any synagogue or Federation lay leader or professional may submit a nomination. The judges are members of the URJ Synagogue-Federation Relations Committee whose communities are not in contention for recognition.
In judging which Federations were worthy of receiving the award, the committee considered the following three characteristics:
Real collaboration exists between the Federation and its synagogue community (congregations and also Movement personnel), typically through a formal structure that defines community goals, provides for joint planning and decision making, develops shared objectives and facilitates the resolution of conflicts.
The Federation shares community resources with the synagogue community, which in turn supports Federation projects and activities, including the Federation's Annual Campaign.
Communication between the synagogue community and the Federation is ongoing and frequent, and the Federation tangibly demonstrates its understanding of the needs of congregations and movements or streams, with programs of benefit to the synagogue community and/or local congregations, while synagogue activities reflect reciprocity and partnership with the Federation.
Building on its mission and history of success in fostering cooperation among congregations, synagogue communities and their local Federations, the URJ's Synagogue-Federation Relations Committee is committed to positive, productive relationships between synagogues and Federations, advises on the synagogue-federation partnership and provides consultation to congregations and Federations regarding special circumstances, situations and problems and aims to raise the awareness of Reform leaders at all levels regarding cooperation and collaboration with the other streams of Judaism and, together with them, with local Federations.