Research has shown that enduring friendships forged and maintained in congregational settings confer a unique feeling of connection and well-being; yet
often members and potential members of our congregations don't feel known, befriended or in any way supported.
Many congregations have addressed this
dilemma by establishing caring committees which reach out at times of bereavement, illness and celebration, but too often these committees rely upon a few
generous volunteers working hard to convey a message that the congregation cares. Caring committee chairs, clergy and other congregational leaders often wonder
how to involve the whole congregation in networks of friendship, support and encouragement.
The Creating Caring Communities Active Learning Network will explore innovative approaches and practical steps that congregations can take to become catalysts of change, shifting the idea that caring should be provided mostly by staff and just
a few congregants bringing chicken soup and challah to viewing caring as a central responsibility and privilege of all.
Highlights will include:
Resources related to expanded
provision of bereavement support, visiting and supporting the acutely and chronically ill and those facing difficult life situations
Strategies for reducing shame and stigma and increasing candor among members about needing and accepting help
Information about potential partnerships
with other organizations and funding.
Learning approaches suggested by Jewish leaders with expertise in congregational transformation
Learning from congregations that
have developed successful strategies to strengthen their
communities through an increased focus on promoting friendship as the core of engagement in Jewish life.
Congregations will share questions, strategies
and resources for starting, revitaling and re-imagining existing caring committees.
Examples will be offered of of how caring committees can be
instrumental in involving the whole congregation by encouraging every committee, department and group within the congregation to model caring and promote
friendship among their constituents.
Participation is free for URJ congregations. Registration for the current ALN cycle is now closed. Please check this
page for any updates or for information about future openings.