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Today’s congregations face a wide range of changing demographics. Many communities are experiencing a geographic shift, as older adults age in place, families move into new suburban areas, and younger Jews flock to revitalized downtown areas.
As a result, members of local Jewish communities are often in completely disparate locations, providing synagogues with both an opportunity and a challenge: With limited resources spread in more directions than ever, how can congregations experiment with new models of engagement to draw in their target audiences?
Three Reform congregations received URJ Belin Awards or honorable mentions for the ways they’re “meeting people where they are” – creatively adapting their engagement strategies in response to local community needs, thereby enabling their congregations to successfully meet and engage people where they live and work.
By creatively meeting and engaging people where they are, congregations can foster relationships and connections among people that not only bring meaning to their lives, but also transform the individuals and the community as a whole.
The URJ’s Belin Outreach and Membership Awards – funded through the generosity of David Belin, z”l – are presented to up to 16 congregations for initiatives that demonstrate the concept of audacious hospitality by actively welcoming and integrating those new to Judaism, creating relationship-based engagement models, or engaging and retaining members with innovative practices. This post is one in a series highlighting Belin Award-winning programs and the principles that guided their development.
To learn more about audacious hospitality strategies and tools, attend the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial 2015, from November 4-8 in Orlando, FL. With 5,000 attendees from around the world, the Biennial is the largest Jewish gathering in North America. Learn more and register at urj.org/biennial.
At the time this was published, Jessica Ingram was a member of the URJ’s Strengthening Congregations team, and the manager of Communities of Practices.