We are discussing the possibility of sending out a congregational survey designed to determine the beliefs and practices of members. The questions would be designed to assess individuals' practices at home, experiences at temple, their values, and their attitudes toward issues relevant to Jews. We feel that this information will be helpful as we continue to innovate in programs and services.
I am wondering if other congregations have invested in such a project, and if so, would be willing to share.
Barbara 1500 families
We did a congregational survey a few years ago while attempting to restructure our service schedule...we are a "one-size fits all" congregation in southern New Mexico, the only Jewish connection between El Paso TX, 46 miles to our east, and Tucson AZ, 289 miles to the west. We have a full time rabbi. Our membership is about 159 households with probably another 100 or so Jews taking part in various things. We have a Sisterhood and a fledgling Men's Group as well as a Hadassah Chapter.
I would be happy to send a copy of the questionnaire to anyone who wants it, hard copy only, no charge...it was never intended to be an e-document and must remain that way.
As a result of the survey, in addition to our regular Kabbalat Shabbat each Friday at 7:30 P.M., we've instituted:
Monthly Saturday morning service, roughly an hour and a half in length, using either a "beefed-up" Gates of Prayer service or a chavurah-type service which was cut and pasted from the United Synagogue (Conservative) standard prayer book. Includes Torah reading, d'var Torah with very open discussion, all followed by potluck.
Kiddush dairy lunch and conversation which can last almost as long as the service. We sing/recite Birkat HaMazon (grace after meals) in a traditional manner with non-Hebrew familiar folks following and often singing along.
A monthly Friday night service which is oriented to the non-Hebrew familiar worshipers...based on either Gates of Prayer (using the book) or the new and wonderful Mishkan T'filah, both Reform publications.
Family Shabbat, once a month, Friday night, no Torah reading (precedes the morning service at which Torah is read) for families with children under K...half hour service, family potluck dairy dinner following. This begins at 5:15 P.M. and is cleared out by 7 P.M. for regular services to get organized.
These are the most visible results of the survey. It took two years to get everything in place and functioning smoothly, and we are quite proud of our success.
The Department of Worship, Music and Religious Living has a booklet titled Panim el Panim that covers the issue of using focus groups to achieve results that one might ordinarily seek to achieve via surveys. The booklet is available on the depatment's Web site at www.urj.org/worship/resources. The Department of Worship, Music and Religious Living