New York March 12, 2012 The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and Darim Online today announced four congregations have been awarded social media coaching and consulting grants to assist their efforts in growing their communities online.
The winning congregations include: Temple Beth Emeth (Ann Arbor, Michigan), Bnai Israel Southbury (Southbury, Connecticut), Temple Sinai of LasVegas (Las Vegas, Nevada) and Congregation Beth Israel (San Diego, California). (See below for more detailed descriptions of these congregations.)
These congregations will be awarded eight hours of social media consulting with Darim Online coaches.
We are looking forward to providing this valuable service to URJ congregations, said URJs Chief Operating Officer Barbara Saidel. Social media tools and strategies are essential for congregations to better engage their communities in this new technological age.
Social media is only a tool, said Lisa Colton, Founder and President of Darim Online. Successful congregations of the future will understand the evolving nature of society, community and individual needs, and be nimble enough to adapt to this changing landscape. Thus, we are interested in working with congregations that are culturally ripe and ready to take advantage of these new tools to achieve their visions.
The winning congregations presented forward-thinking ideas, an alignment with digital culture and an understanding of how their online efforts will impact their local communities.
Congregations that are currently participating in the URJs Social Media Boot Camp were invited to apply for the coaching and consulting grants. The year-long URJ Social Media Boot Camp offers more than 450 staff and lay leaders from Reform congregations across North America ideas on how to better use social media tools and strategies to engage their communities online.
The Social Media Boot Camp includes 12 webinars, plus opportunities for coaching, consulting and knowledge sharing to learn from the work other congregations are doing. Staff and lay leaders of Reform congregations are still invited to register at no cost to participate in the program from the remainder of 2012.
Participants from the four winning synagogues will share their learning with others in the URJs Social Media Boot Camp and through blog posts to be published on the URJ and/or Darim Online blogs.
A second round of coaching and consulting grants will open for applications in May.
About the grant-winning congregations:
Temple Beth Emeth (Ann Arbor, Michigan) is a congregation of approximately 700 members. Their programming comes alive through ongoing communications between and among members. Jumping off from their upcoming program theme, Engaging in the World Around Us, Temple Beth Emeth plans to incorporate social media into all of their communications and cultivate a shared responsibility for content creation with their entire community, including youth.
Bnai Israel Southbury (Southbury, Connecticut) is a congregation of just over 200 members. They decided two years ago to make a commitment to new media. Since then, theyve launched a Facebook page, built a new website and began recording podcasts. They recognize that social media is a two-way conversation, and that to embrace it, they need to adjust their culture, human resources, and strategies to meet these new needs. They plan to launch a Twitter feed during this engagement.
Temple Sinai of Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada) is a congregation of just under 300 members in a very diverse and rapidly changing city. They recognize that to unite their community and further engage a younger demographic, they need to better use social media to connect congregants to the synagogue and each other.
Congregation Beth Israel (San Diego, California) is a large congregation of 1,200 members that is tuned into the needs of the community and the potential for new media. Congregation Beth Israel plans to overhaul their communications, moving from being centered around a monthly print bulletin to using a multi-channel approach, including social media.
About the organizations:
Darim Online is a nonprofit organization providing social media and leadership strategies for Jewish organizations to help them thrive in the connected age. Darims training, consulting and coaching services have helped hundreds of congregations and other Jewish organizations advance their work. The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) connects Reform Jewish communities in North America to create a dynamic network of congregants, lay leaders, clergy and professionals. Our progressive, inclusive approach unites six thousand years of Jewish tradition and values with modern Jewish experience to strengthen Reform Judaism today and for future generations. Through training, consultation, and networking facilitated by the URJ, nearly 900 member congregations enhance their capacity to build and expand community, deepen Jewish learning, energize worship, invigorate spirituality, pursue social justice and develop inspired leadership.