Audacious Hospitality

Audacious Hospitality

Two women holding hands under a chuppah as a rabbi officiates over their wedding ceremony

Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley in Lowell, MA, won a 2019 URJ Belin Award for its LGBTQ+ “Uninitiative,” a series of audaciously hospitable actions to welcome and support the congregation’s LGBTQ+ community. 

Chris Harrison
Temple Beth El members and friends participating in a gay pride parade

Belin Award-winning Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, TX, applied the idea of breath and soul (nefesh) to monthly learning opportunities around social justice themes.

Chris Harrison
Trophy on its side with confetti spilling out

Meet eight award-winning congregations that have developed innovative programs rooted in the concepts of audacious hospitality that also engage and retain members. 

Chris Harrison
Young couple and their children lighting the Shabbat candles together

Throughout the course of 12 years, Temple Shalom in Succasunna, N.J., experienced a number of hardships, ranging from financial difficulties to a decline in membership. As it turned out, though, the thing that would inspire this community to thrive once again was, well, the very community itself.

Chris Harrison
Rabbi Daniel Kirzane and another man sitting at a table with a sign that reads Oak Park Temple Bnai Abraham Zion an Inclusive Jewish Community

How do you lead a congregation and create cohesive community when your synagogue exists between two distinct communities? That was one of the challenges facing Oak Park Temple, which sits between the west Chicago suburbs and the northwest part of Chicago in the suburb of Oak Park, where more young families are increasingly relocating

Chris Harrison
View of seder table and people celebrating

For individuals handling addiction and in recovery, the act of engaging with others as part of Jewish holidays and celebrations can be difficult.

Chris Harrison
Young children waving Israeli flags on the stage in a synagogue social hall

Until recently, engaging Jewishly has not been easy for Israelis in Santa Barbara, CA, where religious life and Jewish identity are quite different than back home.

Chris Harrison
Group of smiling Jewish and Muslim children together at Camp Nefesh

Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento, CA, created Camp Nefesh, a full-service day camp for newly arrived refugees. To learn more about this 2019 Belin Award-winning initiative, we spoke with Lucy Beckett, the teenager who dreamt up the concept, as well as Denise Crevin, the congregation’s director of education, and Sharon Rogoff of Women of B’nai Israel.

Chris Harrison
Group of people wearing synagogue shirts and standing in front of a rainbow welcome banner

The Reform community’s is committed to the full equality and inclusion of people of all gender identities and gender expressions. Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, TX, decided to implement this value in its Gender Identity Training program, which won the congregation a 2019 Belin Award

Chris Harrison
Light bulb sitting atop a thought bubble drawn in chalk on a chalkboard

What specific aspects of improving our sacred community do you feel most compelled to take on? With whom do you want to perform this work, and how do you plan on assembling your team?

Chris Harrison