congregational life

congregational life

Members of the Maryland congregation and the Mexican congregation with the Torah being donated

Learn what happened when a congregation in Ajijic, Mexico, contacted B’er Chayim Temple in Cumberland, MD, to see about acquiring a much-needed Torah scroll.

Doug Schwab
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
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 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
Two students, backs to the camera, wrapped together in an Israeli flag

Here are eight things one congregation does to engage with Israel. Your congregation can do them, too.

Rabbi Billy Dreskin and Rabbi Mara Young
Children playing together in a lounge area

On Sunday night, the Dallas/Fort Worth area was hit by severe thunderstorms, including multiple confirmed tornadoes, which devastated parts of Dallas and the surrounding communities and directly im

Kate Bigam Kaput
Lightbulb hanging upside down against a sparkling background

Engagement is truly about putting people – not institutions – at the center of what we do by actively listening to them and meeting them where they are. Here, we share six innovative congregational initiatives – two in each of these three areas – to inspire you in the new Jewish year.

By Amy Asin and Rabbi Esther Lederman