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New York, January 17, 2012 -- Every two years, The Belin Outreach Awards are bestowed upon Reform synagogues with cutting edge Outreach and Membership programs that actively welcome and integrate those new to Judaism, encourage recruitment and integration of membership and discover new ways to embrace multiple demographics in congregational life. These awards were recently presented at the URJ's Biennial convention, which took place in mid-December outside Washington, DC.
Up to 10 congregations may win a Belin Award, and each winning congregation receives $1,000. An additional 10 congregations receive honorable mention for their innovative programs.
The Union has been awarding Belin Outreach Awards since 1993, which are funded through the generosity of David Belin (z"l), the first chairperson of the Joint CCAR-URJ Commission on Outreach (now Outreach, Membership and Caring Community). The winning programs, as well as those that achieve honorable mention, are included in the URJ Outreach and Membership Idea Books, used by congregations throughout the country.
The winners of the 2011 Belin Outreach Awards include:
• Congregation Children of Israel (Athens, GA)
• Temple Adat Shalom (Poway, CA)
• Temple Israel (Columbus, GA)
• Congregation B'nai Israel (Boca Raton, FL)
• Temple Emanu-El (Sarasota, FL)
• Temple Sinai (Roslyn Heights, NY)
• University Synagogue (Los Angeles, CA)
• Temple B'nai Torah (Bellevue, WA)
• Beth El Temple Center (Belmont, MA)
• Congregation Kol Chadash (Solon, OH)
In addition, the following ten congregations were honored with honorable mentions:
• Temple Anshe Sholom (Olympia Fields, IL)
• Congregation Kol Ami (White Plains, NY)
• Baltimore Hebrew (Baltimore, MD)
• Temple Sinai (Atlanta, GA)
• Congregation Beth Am (Los Altos, CA)
• Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple (Beachwood, OH)
• Congregation Or Ami (Calabasas, CA)
• Temple Emanu El (Orange Village, OH)
• Congregation Bat Yam (Hilton Head Island, SC)
• Temple Shalom (Chicago, IL)
Programs are judged on their effectiveness in fulfilling the goals of URJ Outreach and Membership, their innovation, creativity and ability to be tailored to use in other congregations. Winning programs support interfaith families and invite and support conversion; create a culture that welcomes diversity; focus on improving membership recruitment, integration and retention and honor longtime members. The programs should be designed to target one or more of the following groups:
• Interfaith couples*
• Interfaith families *
• Unaffiliated interfaith couples
• Children or adult offspring of interfaith families
• Interfaith families with children in religious school or deciding how to raise their children*
• Young adults, 20s or 30s
• Individuals exploring conversion to Judaism*
• Congregational programs for membership retention *
• Outreach to the unaffiliated utilizing effective print and other media publicity
• Empty nesters
*Particularly programs that promote membership retention, that honor and support the non-Jewish partner and that invite and support conversion.
"The Belin Outreach Awards honor Reform congregations that develop and implement cutting edge, effective Outreach programs that reach out beyond the four walls of their synagogues and into their communities," said Vicky Farhi, URJ's Lead Outreach Specialist. "Congratulations to all the winning congregations and thank you for your dedication to setting an example for the rest of the Movement."