Resources for Clergy: Coronavirus and Your Congregations

Inside Leadership

Resources for Clergy: Coronavirus and Your Congregations

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Editor's Note: This roundup, intended for clergy, is part of a series of pieces that curates coronavirus response resources for specific congregational roles. Additional pieces in this series are available for presidents, executive director and temple administratorsECE center directors and educators, and Jewish K-12 educational leaders

Today we find ourselves in a time of quarantine, the cancellation of large public gatherings, school closings, and the call to maintain social distance. One of the functions of religion has been to fulfill the promise of Gods words in the Garden: “Lo tov heyot ha’adam lvado.” It’s not good for humans to be alone. The function of religion in an era of COVID-19 has not changed; this moment is requiring all of us to imagine new forms of gathering and connection. 

In that spirit, we want to offer you some Reform Movement resources that may be particularly helpful to you, as clergy, as you support your community at this time.

1. Lead services and programming for your community – online.

Now is a time to show the power of community, not the lack of it. Connecting online via livestreaming can create community in lieu of in-person gatherings, bringing solace and comfort to those in isolation.

Streaming Services

Online Programming


  • [Webinar] Zoom Training for Clergy, Educators, and Lay Leaders: Zoom is a flexible and powerful tool for virtual meetings that can help you maintain social connections even as you’re practicing physical distancing. Watch this tutorial on how to Zoom, with a particular focus on the needs of congregational clergy, educators, and lay leaders. 
  • The Reform Movement Marketplace: We've just announced an early release of this platform, which offers discounted licenses for livestreaming, virtual meetings, and other vital services to URJ member congregations.

2. Access Online Liturgical and Music Resources

  • Free and discounted liturgical resources for you and your members: You and your community members can access online versions of Mishkan T'filah, liturgical resources, and additional ebooks on CCAR Press’ website.
  • CCAR-member resources: A myriad of additional liturgical and coronavirus preparedness resources are available behind the CCAR firewall.
  • Transcontinental Music provides a wealth of online music resources, including print and digital copies of sheet music, digital song books, recordings, and more.
  • J•License: J•License allows you to legally stream and podcast (store recorded streams) covered songs in any worship service and lifecycle, concert, or other event for your community. There are special prices for URJ member congregations. 

3. Discover curriculum for your online programming.

  • Ask Big Questions Guides: Offering opportunities for small groups of congregants to gather online? Use these guides created especially for congregational leaders, plus an introductory resource to help make the most of them.
  • Ben Franklin Circle Curriculum: Looking for more content for your online small group gatherings? This toolkit, created by the URJ, 92nd Street Y in New York, and Central Synagogue, is designed to help you to facilitate a powerful dialogue about Jewish and American values.
  • Gifts of Awareness Online Course: Our partnership with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality allows you a discount on this eight-module online meditation course. It offers new insight on how to develop awareness that is more consistent with who you want to be in the world, which will allow you to connect more deeply to yourself, others, and Judaism. Use the code: URJ_GoA.

4. Navigate different stages related to leading your congregation during this unprecedented time.

To help you navigate the universal questions arising in this unique moment, URJ Vice President from Strengthening Congregations Amy Asin shared a three-stage framework that congregational leaders have found effective in navigating this situation so far. The stages cover safety, logistics, and community-building. It's important to remember that the stages are not linear and you will move back and forth across them.

Additionally, join us on May 21, 3pm ET for the URJ webinar "Reimagining What's Possible - The Next Phase in a COVID-19 World." Together, we'll discuss how congregations can imagine the possibilities of a hybrid society, experiment and innovate, and rebuild for new realities. 

Finally, watch the recording of the webinar, "Top 10 Questions about Congregational Finances in Light of COVID-19" to review the most common questions we've been hearing from you about finances and explore how to move forward with optimism. 

5. Receive support for your own feelings of fear and anxiety.

The CCAR and ACC are always available to offer support to their members, especially at times like this. CCAR members should reach out to Rabbi Betsy Torop and ACC members to Cantor Gail Hirschenfang.

The URJ’s crisis support team is also available to provide support to all leaders in URJ congregations. Contact Rabbi Janet Offel.

6. Learn from the wisdom of other leaders across the Reform Movement. 

We recommend the Safety and Security group; search for #Coronavirus and #Covid19 to find resources from across all groups in The Tent. If you’re not yet in The Tent, we encourage you, and other leaders in your congregation, to  set up your account now.   

Both the CCAR and ACC have member-only Facebook pages, on which ideas are being shared daily.

7. Browse the full list of URJ resources on coronavirus response. 

Looking for something more specific or want to review everything we have to offer? Check out “How Reform Congregations are Coping with COVID-19 (and Tools to Help),” which is being updated as new resources become available.

Let’s join virtual hands of support and remember the text from Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:10: “A community is too heavy to carry alone.” Together, we will make it through these difficult times and will find ourselves and our communities to be stronger for it.

Have something to say about this post? Join the conversation in The Tent, the communications and collaboration platform for congregational leaders of the Reform Movement. You can also tweet us or tell us how you feel on Facebook.

Rabbi Esther L. Lederman is the Union for Reform Judaism's director of congregational innovation and sits on the Central Conference of American Rabbis' task force on the experience of women in the rabbinate. She is a board member of from T’ruah, an organization that trains and mobilizes clergy and their communities to advance human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied territories. 

Rabbi Esther L. Lederman

Published: 3/20/2020

Categories: Strengthening Congregations
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