This piece was originally published on 09/08/2020 and has since been revised.
The URJ Reflection Project, a tool for the High Holidays that can be found at reflect.reformjudaism.org. Here, we share suggestions of how to use its many ideas with your congregation.
Part 1: “The Spiritual”
- Create a space on your community’s website or Facebook page where people can share some of their spiritual reflections. It can be for members or an open community allowing people to share their responses with each other.
- Invite already-established small groups (Torah study, book club, or small chavurot you’ve already created) to go through The Spiritual together. Use this tool as a group conversation starter for Elul or the High Holidays.
- Encourage members to choose a person – perhaps another member – to be their accountability partner. They can send a copy of their own responses to The Spiritual to their partner and ask their partner to return it them next Erev Rosh HaShanah.
- Invite members to do this activity as part of your Selichot offering.
Part 2: “The Setting”
- Invite individuals and families to do The Setting together on Erev Rosh HaShanah as a way of setting an intention for the holidays. Once they’ve created their final product, invite them to upload it (if it’s digital rendering) or photograph it and then upload it (if it’s a physical collage) to use as their Zoom background throughout the High Holidays.
- Invite members to mail a photo of their Setting to be used as a slideshow during visual t’filah.
- Invite small groups to do this as an exercise together and have them share their Settings with one another.
Part 3: “The Memorial”
- Invite congregants to do this exercise as part of their preparation for Yizkor on Yom Kippur afternoon.
- Encourage your community members to partake in this experience during the day on Yom Kippur, which allows time for reflection.
- Consider the groups of people who have experienced a loss in this moment (for example, high school and college seniors, couples who postponed weddings, etc.) Create an opportunity for these cohorts to engage in any of the three Memorial exercises with one another and/or with someone on your staff, in an affinity space together.
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.
Reviving Synagogue Communities Using Smart Tech
September 29, 2022
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.
Lead Your Board Through Self-Reflection for the High Holidays
September 6, 2022
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.
Power Up! Enter the New Year as a Strong, Networked Congregational President
September 6, 2022
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.