You already know how to host a beautiful, profound, and Jewishly meaningful seder. What you may not yet know, though, is how to re-imagine your usual traditions to incorporate digital content that will enliven this year’s virtual rendition of your seder.
Related Blog Posts on COVID-19, Strengthening Congregations, and Health and Wellness
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During the COVID pandemic in southern California, we saw our Jewish communities weaken. From our camp spaces disappearing to our teen youth groups (TYG) struggling, many of us stopped programming and decreased in membership, while a few of us thrived the best way we knew how - by joining forces. For us, as youth directors, advisors, and educators, we knew this was the way to keep teens inspired and engaged with one another.
Email and other technologies are a huge factor in why employees feel like they're always on the clock. This "always-on" culture accelerated while synagogues began facing declining membership before the pandemic and has only intensified since. Even if clergy or staff are cut, the work demands don't decrease. As a result, remaining clergy or staff or volunteers are even more overwhelmed and are burning out at alarming rates.
On the Jewish calendar, the start of the month of Elul signifies the beginning of the High Holiday season. As individuals, it is during this time that we begin the process of cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the soul), reflecting on the past year. So too, it is important for your leadership and community to reflect on the past year and consider how to do better moving forward.
It is hard to believe that we are entering the third High Holiday season with the words "new normal" ringing in the back of our minds. This year, our leaders - clergy, professionals, and volunteers alike - are leaning into the possibilities and making plans for the new Jewish year of 5783.
By now, we hope that you have heard about the URJ Pulse+ Survey that will be launching on July 18, when all URJ congregation presidents, senior and solo rabbis, and executive directors will receive an email inviting the congregation to participate.
We are now solidly in the middle of camp season and our 3,000 dedicated staff are working to ensure that our campers are enjoying the friendship, smiles, ruach (spirit), growth, and love that are all part of the camp experience, while also keeping everyone safe and healthy.
Rabbi Philip Bazeley (he/his) has implemented an innovative fundraising model for his congregation at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, New Jersey. So far, he has raised $10,800 for RAC New Jersey, which is compelling early proof of the sustainability of his approach. He shared his thoughts and strategies for fundraising to empower other communities in formulating their own strategies.
Even when our congregations consist of members with a broad range of political perspectives, there tends to be a preponderance of attitudes in a particular direction. This often leads to those in the minority feeling alienated from synagogue life. While this might happen in either direction, in my congregation, as in most URJ congregations, the members tend to be more politically liberal, in correlation with a more progressive religious viewpoint. This correlation is not perfect, however, and a minority of members are politically conservative.