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February 26, 2015 | 7th Adar 5775
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Belin Outreach & Membership Awards

Belin Awards The URJ is pleased to announce the winners and honorable mentions of the 2013 Belin Outreach and Membership Awards.

The Belin Outreach and Membership Awards have been designed to encourage and honor Reform synagogues with outstanding Outreach and Membership programs, which actively welcome and integrate those new to Judaism, create relationship based membership models, or develop new, innovative ways to engage and retain members. 

Award Categories

  • Interfaith couples
  • Interfaith families
  • Unaffiliated interfaith couples
  • Children or adult offspring of interfaith families
  • Individuals exploring conversion to Judaism
  • Post conversion support
  • Outreach to the unaffiliated through media or personal connection
  • Congregational membership program (recruitment, integration or retention)
  • Empty nesters/baby boomers
  • Young adults, 20s or30s
  • Engaging young families
  • Multi-generational membership engagement

There were many inspiring programs that were submitted this year by Reform congregations from all across North America. Eight winners and nine honorable mentions were chosen out of the myriad entries received.

The eight winners, whose Outreach and Membership programs demonstrated a high level of creativity, originality and excellence are:

  1. Congregation Shir Ami, Castro Valley, CA: Membership Hospitality Using Social Media, designed to strengthen congregants' ties to the congregation by creating a synagogue Facebook page in which congregants, clergy and staff can post wishes and words of praise, encourage one another with "likes" and repostings and are able to see a list of members' birthdays and anniversaries.

  2. Temple Sinai, Atlanta, GA: Temple Sinai Ambassador Corps, in which involved and committed members were invited to become Sinai Ambassadors, who promote Temple Sinai to the community, participate in the recruitment process, reach out to prospective members and are featured on the temple's digital marketing campaign.

  3. Temple Sinai, Sarasota, FL: Gift Membership Program, an initiative in which congregants invite and become the hosts of families with school-aged children, new to the temple, who receive one-year gift membership, during which special events for gift members and their hosts take place. In addition, as part of this program- all Jewish families with a child enrolled in the temple's Gan (new or existing members), receive complimentary temple membership.

  4. Congregation Or Chadash, Chicago, IL: Hidur Keshet: Enhancing the Rainbow-Judaism with a Queer Perspective, targeting LGBT who are either interested in converting to Judaism or in deepening their Jewish practice by offering a year-long series of sessions, focusing on Community, Torah and Hebrew, which enrich Intro to Judaism classes offered at the temple.

  5. Congregation Beth Yam, Hilton Head Island, SC: Outreach: Welcoming Interfaith in Every Generation, intended to creatively reach out, educate and honor the many temple members who are touched by interfaith by holding workshops that educate grandparents on their role in their grandchildren's lives, who grow up in interfaith families, by matching interfaith families with host families for holiday or Shabbat meals, by holding trips to a Synagogue and a Church that were built at the same time, meant to honor non-Jewish spouses, and much more.

  6. Temple De Hirsch Sinai, Seattle, WA: KIDdish Club, an initiative intended to connect affiliated and unaffiliated young families to the temple, by offering weekly free drop-in playdates, a Shabbat morning "Tot Shabbat" service, Family yoga for young families and much more.

  7. Temple Rodef Shalom, Falls Church, VA: Shalom Corps, a creative program designed to create a welcoming experience for all visitors- new or not- by appointing friendly congregation members as greeters, who host a "pre-neg", assist members who seem to be "lost" and engage anyone who seems interested to find a partner for a conversation.

  8. The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah, Overland Park, KS: Individualized Jewish Path (IJP), in which members explore where they see themselves in their Jewish life, and develop a three-year program for their personal Jewish growth, guided by trained volunteer "See'ot".

The nine honorable mentions, who developed exceptional Outreach and Membership programs, are:

  1. Temple B'nai Shalom, Fairfax Station, VA
  2. Temple Adat Shalom, Poway, CA
  3. Temple Beth Torah, Upper Nyack, NY
  4. Temple Beth El, San Pedro, CA
  5. Temple Beth El, Charlotte, NC
  6. Temple Beth Emeth, Ann Arbor, MI
  7. Congregation Kol Ami, Elkins Park, PA
  8. Ohef Sholom Temple, Norfolk, VA
  9. Temple Israel, Memphis, TN

Each winner is awarded $1,000 funded through the generosity of David Belin,z''l, the first chair of the URJ-CCAR Joint Commission on Outreach and Membership. All winners and honorable mentions will be honored at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial in San Diego, December, 2013. 

Application process

The deadline to submit an application for the 2013 Belin Awards has passed. We are no longer accepting applications for the Belin Award for this year.

Questions? Contact Lisa Barzilai, or Arlene Chernow

To see previous year's award winners and honorable mentions, review these URJ Books and Music publications: Outreach and Membership Idea Book, Volumes I - IV.


Outreach and Membership Idea Book Volume IVThe winning programs of 2011 are featured in the Outreach and Membership Idea Book Volume IV.

Previous winning programs are available in these other URJ Press publications:


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