RJ Web Builder: A Valuable Benefit of Being a URJ Congregation

November 29, 2021Joel Emerman

"Having a URJ hosted website is a valuable benefit of being a URJ congregation," said Heidi Barishman, website manager for Temple Shalom in Dallas.

One of the major advantages of having a website is that it is accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Even during non-business hours, members can access your site, check out your services and get the information they need.

The Union for Reform Judaism makes it easy for all member congregations to have a website. RJ Web Builder 3.0, a WordPress-based platform, lets you and your congregation develop and maintain a free professional website. As part of your URJ membership, we offer each congregation one site, software, server maintenance, and the server space to host it on. Using our platform saves you time, money and effort. Here's what some of our webmasters had to say about their experiences:

"Many URJ congregations, mine included, have limited means to develop and implement an effective web presence, and many lack the technical skills to do so themselves. This amazing URJ resource directly defrays so much of the cost and technical burden for congregations."
- Marty Goldberg, past president, past treasurer and webmaster, Temple Or Hadash, Fort Collins, CO

"The RJ Web Builder platform is one that a website novice or expert can use to customize any congregation's needs. The WordPress content management system is simple to learn and easy to use on a daily basis. Editing from either the front or back ends of the website allows flexibility when designing pages. Inserting media, from PDFs to photos to videos, is rapid with multiple options for display. The gravity forms plugin makes it easy to take and keep track of reservations for events as well as offering payment options."
- Heidi Barishman, website manager, Temple Shalom, Dallas

"The Temple Beth Hillel website has been key to keeping our members up to date and giving prospective members an idea of who we are and what we do. Designing and developing a website can be daunting, especially if that's not something you've done before. RJ Web Builder makes it easy to set up and maintain a professional website to keep existing members informed and engaged and to attract new members by giving them a picture of who we are and what we do. Even if you've never used Wordpress, adding new content is very fast, easy and intuitive even for users who don't consider themselves technical. It's quick and easy to add photos, videos, and more."
- Wendy Roth, webmaster, Temple Beth Hillel, Richmond, CA

Unique Designs for an Individualized Look

Your website plays a critical role in your synagogue's communication and marketing strategy. And every synagogue is unique. So why should you have the same website as a hundred other congregations? With the help of a page builder called Themify, there's a lot of flexibility in our themes.

"To begin we had a choice of 16 theme options that are customizable using a variety of plug-ins and modules developed and tested for our congregation's needs."
- Kathy Isenburg, webmaster, Temple Beth El Israel, Port Saint Lucie, FL

"The well-curated set of Wordpress plugins means we can add functionality to our site that we know will work for us. The RJ Web Builder team has worked with plug-in developers to improve their usefulness for our needs, going above and beyond what might be expected of a generic hosting company."
- Marty Goldberg

"After hosting our website on a commercial platform, it was great to use RJ Web Builder. We had many different website templates to choose from that were expressly built with the needs of a synagogue in mind. We could select a design that helps us express who we are and doesn't feel like a modified business website, or a website that is a cookie cutter of every other website."
- Wendy Roth

A New Upgraded Calendar and More Accessible Sites

Since the initial migration of our Joomla-based 2.0 platform into WordPress in 2018, we have continued to make updates and add new plugins.

"The calendar is perhaps the most important part of a temple website, as it tells people how, when and where they can engage with their community."
- Wendy Roth

With that in mind, after years of glitches and technical issues with the old calendar plugin, we decided to put our time and energy into building a brand new, custom-developed calendar management system from the ground up, addressing all those bugs and issues and making sure all the promised features work. The RJ Web Builder Calendar plugin is tailored specifically for congregations and aims at simplifying the calendar process. Developing our own plugin also gives us the flexibility to make edits and additions to the software more easily.

The URJ is more committed than ever to providing a great user experience to everyone in your community, including people with disabilities. We took a huge step this year to make sure your website is accessible to anyone, regardless of ability. We compiled a list of tips to make sure your website complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We also added a plugin which allows webmasters to add an accessibility toolbar to their site's header.

Top-Notch, Personalized Support

RJ Web Builder takes pride is the service and support we provide to our congregations.

"The RJ Web Builder help desk handles issues quickly, is receptive to suggestions and continually improves the platform to meet the needs of congregations and webmasters. Knowing that I have professional support for our website makes my job easier and allows me to create an attractive and informational website for our congregants and potential members."
- Heidi Barishman

"I've worked with quite a number of web hosting companies over the years, and the support we get from the RJ Web Builder team is easily among the best in the industry. The team is responsive to our needs and quickly responds to inquiries large and small. They are eager and willing to work with us to resolve any issues we're having (usually self-inflicted) and do so with a focus on service to member congregations. The URJ team is just amazing!"
- Marty Goldberg

"I have found the help desk to be an invaluable resource with helping me design and edit my temple's website."
- Kathy Isenburg

"Although the platform is easy to use, sometimes I need a little help. I usually can find anything I need using the comprehensive RJ Web Builder help site. If I don't find what I need there, or something needs to be fixed, support is fast, friendly, and competent."
- Wendy Roth

Making the Decision to Choose RJ Web Builder

Congregations have a lot of factors to consider when selecting a website platform. We hope you'll choose RJ Web Builder, and find some encouragement in these testimonials:

"Every few years we revisit our decision, and every time we agree RJ Web Builder was and remains the best website solution for our congregation."
- Marty Goldberg

"If you've been hosting your website somewhere else, or you've never thought you could have a website for your temple, give RJ Web Builder a try."
- Wendy Roth

For more information about RJ Web Builder 3.0, review our help site and watch our informational video.

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