Does anyone have any experience with the Shabbat at the Synaplex concept? As we understand it, this is a communal celebration with multiple activities happening simultaneously on Shabbat. The activities are oriented to different types of members and their interests. We are considering doing this next year and would be interested in any advice based on your experience as well as any resource materials that you could share. Janet 1,050 families
I ran across [a synaplex] article talking about Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, NY. [The article is titled "Synaplex Enlivens White Plains Synagogue" and appeared in The Journal News, 11/17/03. The congregation's website is www.kolami-ny.org.]
I have seen several postings on Presconf [a listserv of the Department of Synagogue Management] and they are delighted with it.
Stuart 700 Family Units
Our local Conservative synagogue has been running an extensive and varied Synaplex all year (for one year). I think their goal is to increase membership and to increase Friday night attendance. Saturday morning they also have had various creative Synaplex activities, particularly from 9--9:30am, before their traditional Shabbat morning service begins. Their Synaplex also involves programs presented by many guest performers, teachers, facilitators, etc, on Friday nights and at days/times other than Shabbat. They are Temple Beth El, Grand Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603, and their Web site is www.poughkeepsie.uscjhost.net. Marian
The Synaplex or (Cynaplex ?) concept is an analogy to movie theaters with many screens. The idea is to offer several flavors of services within one building (and time period) so that people can choose what fits them best.
I've been a member of a couple of synagogues that have tried this with some success. A couple of suggestions:
Consistency--members who like to come every week are looking for consistency; so at least one of the options should be the same every week.
Target audiences--offering Kabbalat Shabbat and Tot Shabbat at roughly the same time means that grandparents might attend Tot Shabbat with the grandkids and parents will go to Kabbalat Shabbat or vice versa. I have a friend who does this with her daughter and grandkids and then they all have dinner together.
Variety is good, but too much is flaky. People want to know what to expect.
The idea seems to me to have come, at least in part, from Kaplan's Judaism as a Civilization. The chapters on "Community" have that feel.
Isa Aron's book Becoming a Congregation of Learners has been used as a guide for us in our work in Adult Ed and may be of use to those who want insights.
We are currently running once-a-month "alternative" services. They've been quite successful. One of them overflowed our chapel.
Fred 900+ units
Some congregations have different forms of Shabbat morning services on alternating weeks or once or twice a month. Other (generally larger) congregations have different types of Shabbat morning worship services, and possibly also study sessions, etc., going on simultaneously. In that scenario, sometimes everyone comes together for a Kiddush or cholent lunch at the end. Whatever the Synaplex involves, it is generally developed around the needs, interests and willingness of the members of the individual congregation. Marian