Frequently Asked Questions About A Taste of Judaism™
What are the goals of Taste of Judaism?
Whetting the Appetite
First and foremost, this program gives students a "taste" of what is delicious about Judaism. Like any good taste, its purpose is to whet participants'
appetites so that they will explore additional learning opportunities and options for participation within the Jewish community.
Historically, about 1/3 of participants later enroll in area URJ Introduction to Judaism classes where available, or
synagogue adult education offerings. For those seeking conversion, this course can be a catalyst for a connection with area rabbis.
Making the Exploration of Judaism Risk-Free
A Taste of Judaism: Are You Curious? is an opportunity to explore Judaism in a non-threatening, welcoming environment.
Because taking the first step is often the most difficult, fraught with fears, this program is designed to make the first step as easy and as risk-free as
To enable the student to make a manageable time commitment to the course, it is only three sessions. Further, there are no textbooks and no homework is
To dispel the myth that there is a profit motive, the course is offered free of charge.
This is not a course meant to be announced from the bimah and publicized in the Temple Bulletin. The best way to reach the unaffiliated is through
mainstream press, social media, and word-of-mouth. The URJ can help you do all three.
The course content is not dependent upon previous knowledge about Judaism. Further, the content of each class is designed to be taught independently so
that a student who misses a class won't feel left behind.
Reaching a Diverse Population
One course and one curriculum reach an amazingly diverse population: individuals interested in exploring Judaism, interfaith couples, adult children and
grandchildren of interfaith couples, in-laws of Jews, interested Christians not planning to convert - anyone seeking more knowledge
about Judaism will find this course a good beginning.
What do we need in order to make Taste of Judaism successful?
Numerous factors contribute to successful Taste offerings:
An engaging and empathetic instructor, most often a congregational rabbi, who understands the many circumstances that bring people to explore
A warm and well-organized program administrator, a volunteer or staff member who will:
Place the ads
Speak with potential students individually
Send registration forms and directions
Prepare a class list
Collect evaluation forms
Follow up with students after the course ends
Receive training from and act as liaison to the URJ
A welcoming environment, conducive to learning, in an easy-to-reach location, which offers avenues for continued learning within weeks of the
conclusion of Taste of Judaism
A host congregation committed to both the spirit and the details of the program
What is the curriculum? Does the URJ provide curriculum materials?
God, Torah and Israel are the pillars of the course curriculum. Each class offers students the opportunity to interact with traditional and contemporary
texts and engages the group in discussion and experiential exercises.
The first class, "Spirituality" (God), exposes students to ancient and modern Jewish encounters with God with the pedagogic goal that understanding God and
Spirituality is a process and that we Jews are "Yisrael" - the one who wrestles with God.
The second class, "Ethics" (Torah), explores the question, "what does God want of us?" Through the reading of ancient and modern sources, the student will
survey Jewish ethical teachings and begin to understand that ethical behavior arises out of our relationship to God.
The final class, "Community" (Israel), looks at texts that explore the Jewish values upon which our community is organized and how we as Jews relate and
respond to one another. Additionally, this class helps students to understand how they might connect with the Jewish community following the course.
Within the overall plan, students interact with texts traditional and contemporary on each of the three topics. Teachers are urged to teach from their own
strengths and passions. We are pleased to share with you the materials developed by a number of rabbis who have taught Taste before, and we urge you to
share any materials YOU may develop, so that we can share them with future instructors!
What does it cost a congregation to offer Taste of Judaism?
It was clear from the outset of our pilot program in 1994 that considerable sums of money must be invested in advertising in the secular press in order to reach unaffiliated Jews, non-Jews and the intermarried. There was and continues to be an overwhelming response to advertisements in the secular press about Taste of Judaism. Some communities are seeing success in recent years with online publications and local blogs like the Patch. However, these supplement and do not fully replace print media. Print advertising continues to be the main method of marketing.
The cost of placing ads in mainline papers varies. The larger papers, especially in urban areas, may charge considerable fees, but such publicity has
proven to be the most successful. See "Publicity Recommendations"for suggestions on how to determine your advertising plan and budget. Based
on numbers we've seen in recent years, the median advertising cost in small cities has been $1000-$1500, with smaller or more remote towns costing a few
hundred dollars and medium sized cities costing closer to $2000-$2500. Advertising in large cities with multiple congregations collaborating might cost
Beyond advertising, the other expenses you might anticipate are:
Copying costs (text handouts, evaluation forms, upcoming class and program lists, welcome brochures) - $65-85 if using an outside print shop like
FedEx Kinko's or Office Max.
Instructor honorarium - $300
Some congregations set up a temporary, dedicated phone number for the person who will be handling the intake calls so that callers can hear "Taste
of Judaism" when they call ($20-30)
Food and beverage - Coffee/tea, small snack (this is a great way to involve volunteers)
I've heard that Taste of Judaism is not open to congregants or even to non-Jewish partners of congregants. Is that true?
A Taste of Judaism: Are You Curious? is an opportunity to explore Judaism in a non-threatening, welcoming environment. Because taking the first step into the "waters of Judaism" is
often the most difficult, fraught with a myriad of fears, this program is designed to help make the first step as easy and as risk-free as possible. A
number of congregations that have hosted
A Taste of Judaism in the past have offered us the feedback that when the class is open to congregants as well as the unaffiliated, those participants who already
feel comfortable in the synagogue building or a degree of familiarity with the rabbi have a tendency to speak up and participate more readily, in effect
creating an uneven playing field for those unaffiliated participants who are truly taking the first step. As a result we advise congregations to be
cautious when setting up their classes to avoid this dynamic, and if they see there is interest within the congregation itself, to offer the class a second
time for interested congregants. Rabbis may use their discretion about responding to individual requests from non-Jewish partners in their congregations.