Highlight from the August 2011 Talking Outreach Newsletter
Many of your prospective members will make their first call to your congregation during the summer. Unaffiliated parents may guess that the religious school year is coordinated with the public school calendar. Jewish partners know that the High Holy Days are sometime in the fall. Individuals interested in exploring Judaism will see advertisements for the High Holy Day services in newspapers and on banners in the community. All these things prompt them to call the synagogue, often for the first time.
At the same time, as the High Holy Days get closer, temple staff members become busier and busier. In some congregations, the people who answer the phone(s) are also responsible for extra High Holy Day administrative tasks, and so they may answer the phone with a little less charm and enthusiasm than usual.
You can see the potential for bad first impressions. So during the ramp up to the High Holy Days, it is especially important to take steps to reduce the possibility of a caller getting the feeling that his/her call is not important. Remember that to a first time caller everyone who answers the phone is emblematic of the entire Jewish community. And since calling a temple for the first time may be one of the hardest steps that a person takes on his/her journey toward joining the Jewish people, it is imperative that the caller has a good experience. To help you and anyone at your congregation who answers the phone(s) make a great first impression we recommend using Beyond Shalom: Your Synagogue's Office Guide to Connecting with Warmth and Welcome.
Beyond Shalom contains exercises to help staff members become aware of callers' feelings. The list of referrals will help the clergy and administrative staff clarify to whom calls should be referred and under what circumstances. Keep this guide handy throughout the summer.