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December 20, 2014 | 28th Kislev 5775
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Honoring Longtime Members

Reform congregations throughout North America are facing the challenge of a changing congregational demographic. Never before has their membership included such a large proportion of people over the age of 50. The challenge of retaining these older members as active participants in their congregations -- once their children are no longer the ties that bind them to temple life -- is an issue facing increasing numbers of temples. Vibrant synagogues are learning more and more how to capture the interests and tap the energy of this growing segment of their membership.

Through the creation of Renaissance Groups synagogues can offer creative programming and activities to this growing group.

Often the simplest steps for membership success are the steps easily missed. Don’t pass up the opportunity to honor long time members for their years of dedication to your community. Honoring them either at a service, special program, and even in the synagogue bulletin will show your congregation’s appreciation of their contributions. This sermon  by Rabbi Jonathan Stein and the blessing that followed, was used to honor long-term members and can be adapted to honor your congregants for significant milestones of membership. Making your gratitude visible may also encourage others to follow in their footsteps, l’dor v'dor.  

Take a look at this Covenant of Welcome Ritual for New and Longtime Members  written by Rabbi Jon Miller to also demonstrate how to honor longtime members while including new members. 

Reach out to your longtime members through a phone call to see how they are doing.  Ask them if they are interested in joining a committee or becoming involved in a social action project.  The key is having them strengthen their ties to your community whether or not they have children living at home. 

 

 
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