Outreach has a tremendous impact on congregational life both directly and indirectly. Youth, Adult Learning, Worship & Spirituality and more are all affected by the decisions our congregations make in Outreach areas.
We will explore some of these areas at the URJ Biennial. We hope you will join us! (Did you hear? President Barack Obama is a featured speaker!) In this issue, we share a few thoughts about the Biennial as well as ideas for funding your congregations Outreach programs. We are excited to introduce Talking to Your Children about Jewish Identity in an Interfaith Family, as well as some newly formatted pieces for your congregation.
We hope you enjoy the blessings of Outreach during your Thanksgiving festivities!
Rabbi Victor Appell
Marketing, Outreach and New Communities Specialist
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Outreach Idea Exchange at the Biennial!!!
One of the blessings of Outreach is that we reach people looking to connect to Judaism in so many different ways. Another blessing is the generosity of Outreach lay people and professionals who are constantly exploring the many layers and areas of Outreach. At the 2011 Biennial, the URJ will offer Idea Exchange Sessions during which you can sit down, share and schmooze with your peers. Youre welcome to drop in at any point during this session to meet with and talk to other attendees who share your passion for Outreach. Tent cards on the table will designate which is the Outreach table. We encourage you to begin these conversations online using the interactive chatter feature on the Biennial website.
The Outreach Idea Exchange Session will occur during Biennial time block D, Thursday, December 16, from 4-5 pm.
All of your Outreach Specialists will be available for personal consultations during the Biennial. Email them now to make your appointment, and enjoy the benefit of an in-depth conversation about Outreach in your congregation.
Outreach Funding can Expand your Program Opportunities
How does your Outreach Committee fund its efforts? Many congregations allocate funds in their budgets to support their committees programming. A line in a congregations budget means that committees can plan their programs in advance. While some programs and events may not have costs associated with them, other may require publicity, refreshments or a speakers honorarium. Some programs may support themselves through admissions, donations and sponsorships. A line in the budget may also mean that committees have the opportunity to advocate on their behalf to maintain or even increase their funding in future budgets.
Of course, when synagogues have to tighten their belts, the squeeze may be felt by committees in the form of decreased budget lines. While everyone is trying to do more with less these days, creative planning and funding may help your committee weather stormy financial times.
Congregations always have members who are passionate about a particular area of congregational life, and for many of them it may be Outreach. Perhaps their passion can be channeled into financial support for your Outreach programs. You or the staff may know of a few angels in the temple who can be counted upon to support special events and programs.
Major programs such as a guest speaker, author or film screening may offer an opportunity to raise funds. A guest author or speaker may be accompanied by a dinner or reception with the guest. When planning such function, consider offering members the opportunity to, for an additional donation, be a sponsor or supporter of the event. Many members will be happy to support the program in this way, especially if it means their names will be listed in the events program, they will be offered preferred seating or they will be invited to a reception with the guest speaker or author.
Another option is to establish an Outreach Fund, to which people can donate. This will give the committee a degree of independence from the synagogues budget. It will also provide members with a way of celebrating and acknowledging special occasions and life cycle events. For example, what better way to celebrate someones conversion to Judaism than by a donation to the temples Outreach Fund? This month the URJ is highlighting its many Finance and Fundraising resources. To learn more about the establishment of funds for your congregation, consult our publication, Doing What is Just and Right: Endowments, Investments and Synagogue Funds, visit the URJs Finance page or, connect with one of our Finance Specialists, Rob Berkovitz or David Katowitz, to learn more.
We are also excited to introduce a new pamphlet, Talking to Children About Jewish Identity in an Interfaith Family. Available as a downloadable document, this new brochure is an important tool for parents in interfaith families who are raising their children with a Jewish identity, as well as for interfaith couples still considering how they will raise their children. It offers helpful step-by-step suggestions for talking to children and members of the extended family about Jewish identity. It also offers information for interfaith families interested in participating in the Jewish community.
These pamphlets have been designed to be used as either black and white or one-color documents. You may download them and run them on a copy machine, or take to a local printer for duplication. The new pamphlets are now available from URJ Books and Music.
Where and how to use the pamphlets:
Place them in your temple and school offices, including Early Childhood Centers
Feature them on your Shabbat Shalom table
Add them to new member packets and make them available at potential member events
Make them available during parent/ teacher conferences and all religious school events
Have them on the table for workshops/programs that welcome members of your community
Have them available at adult education events. (Remember: your members probably have friends or children in interfaith relationships!)
Write an article for your temple bulletin about the content in these brochures
Write a short blurb with content from each one for your electronic newsletters.