What is Hineini: Embracing Our People, Building Our Future?
Hineini is a Reform Movement-wide initiative to support world Reform Jewry and strengthen relationships between Reform congregations in North America and Progressive communities abroad. The Union is asking every Reform congregation in North America to demonstrate its commitment to Reform Judaism by adopting a project in a growing Progressive Jewish community in Israel or the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Through these projects, each Union congregation will become a catalyst for the growth of Progressive Judaism all across the globe and, at the same time, strengthen our Movement's relationships with Progressive Jews in these countries so that we may learn from their traditions and wisdom and share ours.
What is the purpose of the Hineini project?
Reform Judaism is growing throughout the world. Progressive congregations are emerging in Prague, Budapest, Kiev, and St. Petersburg. In Israel, budding congregations are building synagogues to house Progressive Jewish learning and prayer. These growing communities do not have the resources we enjoy here in North America. They could benefit from our experience and support, just as we have much to learn from their traditions, their history, and their unfaltering commitment to Judaism. As an established and thriving Reform Jewish community, it is incumbent upon us to reach out to Progressive Jews around the world, support their efforts to build strong Reform congregations, and establish a vibrant international community of committed Reform Jews.
What are the projects that congregations can choose to support?
Click here to read descriptions of the three projects.
How do we begin?
The first step is for your synagogue board (or a special committee) to choose a project to support and affirm your congregation's commitment to it through an appropriate resolution. A sample board resolution and background materials on each of the projects is available at www.urj.org/hineini. After sending the Union a copy of your resolution and a completed registration form, which will indicate to which project your congregation has made a commitment, you should begin the fund-raising process. Make sure you appoint a chair (or chairs) of the project to coordinate fund-raising efforts, educational programming, and communication with the community you've selected.
How should I announce the project to my congregation?
Because this is a grassroots campaign, we want every member of every Union congregation to know about and participate in the project. A sample article that you can include in your synagogue bulletin, a press release that you can use to inform the local community about your congregation's involvement in the project, and a letter to send to your congregants, telling them about the project and asking them to contribute $18 are available at www.urj.org/hineini.
How much money is our congregation supposed to raise?
Your synagogue should ask each member to contribute $18/year in support of the project your congregation has chosen to adopt. Please emphasize that the Union is aware of the financial pressures that congregations are facing currently and it is therefore very important that donations for the project are collected from congregants -- not taken from the synagogue budget. This is a grassroots effort on the part of the North American Reform Movement to support growing Progressive congregations around the world. It presents a unique opportunity for every Reform Jew in the United States and Canada to connect with Reform Jews abroad and be directly involved in building Progressive Judaism around the world.
How do we go about raising money for the project?
First, send a letter to your congregants telling them about the project and asking for an $18 contribution. Along with the letter, enclose background material on the project your congregation has chosen to support and a pledge form. Second, make certain updates about your congregation's fundraising progress and other information about your Hineini project are shared with members of your congregation.
How should we collect money for the project?
Checks should be made out to, mailed to and acknowledged by the synagogue. You will want to keep a running list of the congregants who have made donations. As donations come in, keep congregants informed about the congregation's fundraising progress. When you have collected the bulk of the contributions from your congregants, send one check to the Union for the total amount collected. If you send individual checks to the Hineini project, we cannot provide individual acknowledgements or guarantee that all donations are credited to the correct congregation. When sending a check to the Hineini project, attach the check to the Submission Form, which can be found on thisWeb site
How can our congregation become a "Builder Congregation?"
Becoming a Builder Congregation involves collecting contributions from at least half of your congregants, engaging in ongoing congregation-wide study about Reform Jewish communities around the world and the North American Reform Jewish community's responsibility to support them, and building a lasting relationship with the community that your congregation chooses to support. Successful Builder Congregations and their programs will be recognized in Reform Judaism magazine, on the URJ Web site, and at regional biennials.
Will we get updates about the project we support?
Your congregation will receive a newsletter every four months about the progress being made on each of the Hineini projects, as well as personal messages from members of the community your congregation supports. Your congregation should also take advantage of the online chats and video pen-pal program coordinated by the Union so that you can keep in touch regularly with the community you support.
What is the learning component of the program?
Congregation-wide study about world Reform Jewry and the North American Reform Jewish Community's responsibility to support growing Reform Jewish congregations abroad is an essential element of the Hineini project. Each Union congregation can choose independently how it wants to implement this aspect of the program. The Union will provide a number of educational resources, holiday-related study materials, and lesson plans that congregations can use or adapt. You can also find in the Strengthening the Connection section of this site ideas and resources for helping your congregation learn more about Reform Jewish communities around the world.