It Takes a Village (and a Little URJ Help) to Build a Congregational Website

With people doing so much of their shopping online these days – for everything from clothing to electronics to groceries to books, and just about everything else – it’s become evident to my synagogue’s board that temple shopping begins online, too. Prospective members no longer wait to drop in unannounced at Shabbat services or attend open houses. People no longer want to waste their time with a temple that doesn’t provide what they’re looking for. They want to know right off the bat: Does the synagogue have a nursery school? When are Hebrew School classes? Are there activities for the parents and grandparents? Until recently, my synagogue had a very plain website, with our basic information laid out in simple language alongside a photo collage, a music video, and… not much else. The information was there, but it was uninviting. When our temple president began the process of creating a new website, it all sounded so simple. We sought a volunteer who would create a professional, easy-to-navigate website that would attract new members and be a useful tool to give our current membership up-to-date information about temple activities and services, as well as to showcase who we are and what we are about.

A New Era of NFTY

Andrew Keene
By Andrew Keene An unidentified scholar teaches us, "Blessed is the generation in which the old listen to the young, and doubly blessed is the generation in which the young listen to the old." For 75 years, NFTY, the North American Federation of Temple Youth, continues to serve as the link between the past, present, and future of Reform Judaism. NFTY traces its roots to 1939, when it was established by the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (now Women of Reform Judaism) as a collegiate organization for Reform Jewish teens. Since 1939, NFTY, a movement anchored in synagogue-based youth groups, has evolved to meet the needs of Reform Jewish young adults across North America.

Reform Rabbis in Israel Receive State Salaries for First Time

In response to the Israeli government's fulfillment of its court-ordered obligation to pay the salaries of four non-Orthodox communal rabbis, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement: 
Tuesday's announcement that four non-Orthodox communal rabbis have received state-paid salaries represents a major step forward for religious pluralism in Israel.  Although we continue to believe that the goal of full and equal recognition of non-Orthodox Jewry and their rabbis must be fulfilled as soon as possible, we welcome the long-overdue state compensation for Rabbis Miri Gold of the Gezer Regional Council, Stacey Blank of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, Gadi Raviv of the Misgav Regional Council, and Benji Gruber of Hevel Eliot Regional Council.  While the state continues to fund religious services, including rabbis' salaries, this funding must be provided on an equal basis for all denominations.

Reform Movement Allocates $125k for Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts

On November 7-8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, made landfall in the Philippines. The storm came on the heels of an October earthquake that had affected more than 3 million people and disrupted life for more than 14 million Filipinos (nearly 15% of the total population). According to UNICEF, nearly half of the 3.9 million people who were displaced were children. In the wake of the storm, the Union for Reform Judaism, its congregations, and their members rallied to support the storm’s victims.

The Genesis of Our Future

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

I grew up in Southern California, just a few hours from here, and believe it or not, I spent a chunk of my early teens surfing waves on the beaches of Orange County. A flat, calm Pacific Ocean spelled disappointment, even boredom.

But most weeks, there were

At the End of Two Years

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

This Biennial is almost over but we’re just getting started.  What a humbling responsibility you have placed on my shoulders; what a tremendous opportunity we have to shape the Jewish future with imagination, courage and commitment.