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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776

November 2011 Membership Newsletter

Opportunities for Learning, Service and Worship & Community / Welcoming Diversity

Union for Reform Judaism - Membership News
Website | Subscribe | Donate November 16, 2011 | 19 Cheshvan 5772
Outreach and Membership - Inviting Jewish Choices and Strengthening Community

Dear Membership Colleagues,

“Leaders—people in positions of authority—must understand that it is their responsibility to make people feel needed and appreciated—not just because of the tasks that they are performing for the congregation, but because you, as a leader, personally appreciate and value their time. Learn who they are as people.”

Rabbi Charles Simon

Part of creating an active volunteer culture is simply learning to say, “please” and “thank you!” Another part is to know your membership: what are their interests and talents? How can we give them opportunities to share these as part of their active involvement in synagogue life? How do we invite them to volunteer, make the experience a positive one and express warm appreciation for their contributions?

Temple Beth Miriam in Elberon, NJ, has created a brochure that encourages all their members to take advantage of the myriad opportunities for learning, service, worship and community that they offer. Each congregant is unique, and Beth Miriam recognizes that all have different needs.

Welcoming diversity in our membership has always been a strength of Reform congregations, which invite prospective members who once might have been considered strangers. The openings of our tents are wide, ensuring that we honor diversity, offer inclusion and make a tapestry of common purpose in our communities. Broken down into action steps for small, medium and large congregations, the URJ Membership and Outreach brochures, Honoring Diversity and 18 Ways to Welcome Interracial Families contain suggestions that will help your community reach out to the variety of current members as well as the unaffiliated.

This month, the URJ is highlighting its many Finance and Fundraising resources, including tools that will help congregations with annual commitments, which is often of particular concern to Membership leaders dealing with member recruitment and retention. Visit the URJ’s Finance page to learn more.

Biennial LogoThe URJ is also planning an extraordinary Biennial convention just outside Washington, DC, on December 14-18, that will have many excellent Membership-related learning sessions focusing on the three tenets of building community: recruitment, integration and retention. In addition, there will be Idea Exchange Sessions, one of which will be for those of you who are passionate about Membership, Outreach and Caring Community. Join us to learn with and from your North American colleagues and other Membership professionals. I look forward to meeting you there!

Those who work in Membership in our congregations are four times blessed because they build a place for both God and God’s people to dwell, worship, perform mitzvot and learn about an ancient and precious tradition that is uniquely ours. 


Kathy KahnKathy Kahn
Membership Specialist
Union for Reform Judaism

Upcoming Opportunities for Your Congregation:

  • URJ North American Biennial, December 14—18, 2011: Have you registered yet for the 2011 URJ Biennial in greater Washington, DC, on Dec. 14-18, 2011? More than 5,000 Reform Jews will attend this formidable gathering. If you have been to a Biennial in previous years, then you know just how special it is. If you haven’t been to a Biennial yet, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

    The URJ Biennial is where Reform Jews gather to learn, pray, share ideas, dance and sing, hear from inspiring guest speakers, reunite with old friends, make new connections and make decisions about the policies of the Reform Movement. This Biennial will include some extraordinary events including the largest Shabbat gathering in the world; learning sessions that were created by YOU; renowned speakers, including President Barack Obama; top-notch entertainment from David Broza and others; and the chance to network with your peers.

    Visit the Biennial website for more information and to register.

  • Membership Certification Program, April 19—April 22, 2012 – Join us in Cleveland for four days of comprehensive training regarding all aspects of Membership: recruitment, integration and retention at the Schindler Fellows Program for Membership Certification. Participants will assess the challenges and strengths of their home congregation and learn best practices from across North America to plan an effective Membership strategy for their synagogue community.

    Please note that limited scholarships are available for small, medium and large congregations. For details about the program and scholarship information, contact Kathy at 212.650.4231 or

  • Advertising Grant Opportunity—National Center to Encourage Judaism: The NCEJ will pay half of the cost of your advertising in the secular press, up to $1,200 twice a year, for programs that welcome the unaffiliated, Jewish or not, and invite them to attend beginner-level programs about Judaism, including the URJ’s Taste of Judaism and Introduction to Judaism classes. Hosting a class or program for those interested in Judaism is an effective way to invite new members into your community!

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