Chris Harrison

Chris Harrison

Inside Leadership
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.

Saving the Synagogue with a Creative Initiative

Dinah Fox, one of Temple Shalom’s long-standing members, led the effort to save Succasunna’s beloved synagogue, thinking up a smart, meaningful idea to engage with the community that ultimately saved the congregation from shutting its doors...

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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.

Noticing that many Jewish residents of northwest Chicago were disconnected from downtown Jewish events, Rabbi Daniel Kirzane created an initiative specifically to serve this geographic community and make them feel welcome at Oak Park Temple. His...

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View of seder table and people celebrating

Jewish holidays are a time to celebrate and engage in rituals with family, friends, and in our beloved communities, all of which connect us to our rich and sacred past. For individuals handling addiction and in recovery, however, the act of engaging with others can be difficult.

At North Shore Congregation Israel (NSCI) in Glencoe, IL, Rabbi Ryan Daniels devised a way to be audaciously hospitable to this particularly vulnerable cohort of individuals as they seek a Jewish connection in a safe space: a Community Recovery Seder.

I recently caught up with Rabbi Daniels, who...

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

In recent years, numerous Israeli doctoral and post-doctoral students have come to study in Santa Barbara, CA. For many of them, engaging Jewishly has not been easy here in North America, where religious life and Jewish identity are quite different than in Israel.

These non-Orthodox Israelis generally don’t engage in synagogue life, but still identify strongly as Jews. Here, they can feel disconnected by the lack of Jewish culture on display and disoriented because, unlike back home, synagogues serve as the primary hub of the Jewish community.

In 2018, Mariela Socolovsky,...

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Group of smiling Jewish and Muslim children together at Camp Nefesh

One of Judaism’s strongest ideas is that of the ohel petuach, or the “open tent.” Symbolized by Abraham offering shelter to traveling strangers, we too can open our “tents” in many ways.

Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento, CA, applied this concept by creating Camp Nefesh, a full-service day camp for newly arrived refugees. To learn more about this 2019 Belin Award-winning initiative, we caught up 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.

URJ....

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