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April 25, 2015 | 6th Iyyar 5775
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Frequently Asked Questions

A Recognition Program for Exemplary Community Partnerships
From the Union for Reform Judaism Synagogue-Federation Relations Committee


What is the Shutafim-Partners program?

This is an initiative of the Synagogue-Federation Relations Committee of the Union for Reform Judaism, to recognize exemplary collaboration between Jewish Federations and their local synagogue communities.  Every two years, the Committee selects three communities for recognition, one small, one mid-sized, and one large.  Representatives of those communities are invited to serve as panelists at a workshop on synagogue-federation relations at the Union’s Biennial Convention. 

How are communities to be recognized selected?

Communities are selected from among those recommended during an open nominations process.  The process is publicized through various on-line media and through normal publicity channels to all URJ member congregations and to all Federations through the Jewish Federations of North America.  Nominations must be made using an on-line form on the URJ website.  Communities to be recognized at the Biennial are selected by a sub-committee consisting of members of the URJ Synagogue-Federation Relations Committee whose communities are not in contention.

What are the criteria for recognition?

The Shutafim program is designed to recognize and stimulate collaborative relationships between Federations and their synagogue communities.  This therefore takes into consideration not only the ways Federations assist and support synagogues, but also the ways synagogues and the synagogue community support and collaborate with the Federation.  Since one of the objectives of the Synagogue-Federation Relations Committee is to foster collaboration and cooperation between and among synagogues and streams, as well as with the Federation, special attention is also given to activities and programs in support of that aspiration.

How do you determine in what size range a community falls?

The boundary between small and mid-sized, and that between mid-sized and large, are fluid, at the discretion of the judging committee.  Generally speaking,  a small community is one with fewer than 35,000 Jews and five or fewer synagogues (of all streams); a mid-sized community is one with more than 35,000 and fewer than 100,000 Jews and fifty or fewer synagogues; and a large community is one with more than 100,000 Jews and more than fifty synagogues. 

Who may enter a nomination for Shutafim recognition?

Anyone may nominate a community for recognition, but it is anticipated that most nominations will come from Reform synagogue leaders or from local Federations. 

What is the deadline for nominations?

Nominations must be submitted on line at by May 31, 2011.  Communities to be recognized will be notified by August 31, 2011, providing enough time for representatives of those communities to make arrangements to be at the Biennial to participate in the panel and to be recognized.  The 2011 Biennial will be held in the Washington D.C. area, from December 14-18, 2011.

What is the nature of the recognition?

The communities being recognized will be listed in the Biennial Program Book, and will be recognized on Jumbotron screens during selected plenary sessions of the Biennial.  Certificates will be presented to the winning communities at the Synagogue-Federation Relations learning session.  Efforts will be made to arrange photo opportunities of the certificate presentation by a top officer of the Union.  A certificate presentation will also be arranged at a Federation board meeting or other Federation-sponsored event in each community being recognized.  The Union will also issue news releases through its entire publicity distribution list, with special attention to Anglo-Jewish publications in the selected communities. 

What communities have previously been recognized? 

The Shutafim program was inaugurated in 2007, and three communities were recognized at that year’s Biennial Convention in San Diego:  Rochester NY (small); San Diego CA (mid-sized); and Washington DC (large).  The program was suspended for 2009.


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