Resolution on Economic Uncertainty and the UAHC's Reaction

As the United States moves into a period of possibly serious economic difficulty and great uncertainty, the Board of Trustees affirms the determination of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations to extend effective leadership and guidance to our member congregations in coping with the economic challenge of our time. We reaffirm our deepest obligation to strengthen the synagogue as the preserver of Judaism and its historic values.

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, as the central congregational body of Reform Judaism, is determined to provide leadership in deed as well as in word. Accordingly, we have already initiated a massive re-evaluation of UAHC program priorities, aiming toward more effective service to the congregations, increased austerity and elimination of waste. A fundamental premise of this program plan is that the UAHC's paramount priority is the strengthening of the fabric of the individual synagogues which, together, constitute the Reform Jewish family.

Accordingly, the Board of Trustees of the UAHC:

  1. Calls upon the staff of the UAHC to give priority attention to providing congregations with practical advice and materials as to how best to cope with inflation and the fiscal problems now developing. In this regard, we also pledge the services of each individual member of the Board to serve, along with members of the staff, as visiting teams to share personally with the leadership of the congregations of the Union our knowledge and experience in responding to the challenges implicit in this period of fiscal distress.
  2. At the same time, we wish to caution the congregations that, while austerity is needed both for the congregations and the central institutions of Reform Judaism, austerity is not the only - or even the best - answer to the crisis. Re-ordering of congregational priorities, joint congregational activities eliminating needless duplication, together with a fair dues program frankly presented, are but some of the appropriate measures available to cope with present contingencies. Our congregants must be persuaded to assign the synagogue a proper place in the priority of their giving and we must obtain communal support for the synagogue's community-wide programs especially in the realm of formal and informal Jewish education.

As there are dangers and challenges on the current scene, so are there fresh opportunities generated by the vast moral and spiritual hunger which affects so many of our fellow Jews of all ages and communities. We therefore urge:

  1. That a major membership campaign be initiated by the UAHC, to be implemented in the local congregations, to reach the more than 50% of the American Jewish population which is today unaffiliated with any branch of Judaism. The time is ripe to bring to our fellow Jews our conviction that Jews belong in the synagogue and have no moral right to separate themselves from the roots of their people.
  2. That the UAHC intensify its present pilot projects, such as the store-front synagogue in Chicago and the Operation Outreach in Southern California, bringing the insights of these experiments to all our congregations.
  3. That the UAHC make available to the congregations, through the printed word and by visits of UAHC teams, specific and detailed suggestions as to how a congregation can best use the media, personal visits, literature, demographic planning and other practical techniques to enlarge and revitalize our congregational families.