Reform Judaism magazine - World's Largest Circulated Jewish Magazine 1st Place Award Winner for Excellence in Jewish Journalism and a Benefit of Membership in a Union Congregation

Strengthening Synagogues
20s and 30s  
Kerry M. Olitzky. The executive director of Big Tent Judaism / Jewish Outreach Institute offers 10 congregational Public Space Judaism approaches/initiatives that have proven effective.
The youngest member of the URJ’s Oversight Committee discusses the influence of his parents and John F. Kennedy on his impetus to give back to society, and how best to engage 20s and 30s Jews. Summer 2014.
Julie Schwartz. How Reform synagogues turned their Biennial experience into lasting change: re-energizing congregants, increasing membership, engaging youth, involving young families, reviving a caring community, and more. Summer 2013.
Josh Nelson. “We want prayer experiences in and of the moment—ones without an alternative agenda or expectation of our doing or giving.” Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future, in which six 20s and 30s say what they need to find their home in the Jewish community. Winter 2012.
Jonathan Sarna, David Cygielman, Yoav Schlesinger, Rebecca Missel, David Gerber, Josh Nelson, Sarah Lefton. Cover Story: Six 20s and 30s say what they need to find their home in the Jewish community, and historian Sarna illuminates what history can teach us about the challenge of engaging the next generation. Winter 2012.
David Cygielman. “Established institutions must understand that the infrastructure they have built may not be what my generation is willing to take on.” Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future, in which six 20s and 30s say what they need to find their home in the Jewish community. Winter 2012.
David Gerber. “Jewish young adults want to be around others who share their passions.” Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future, in which six 20s and 30s say what they need to find their home in the Jewish community. Winter 2012.
Sarah Lefton. “As parents of a 3-year-old, there isn’t a place where my husband and I can learn in a serious way at the same time.” Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future, in which six 20s and 30s say what they need to find their home in the Jewish community. Winter 2012.
Yoav Schlesinger. “Our needs are not met by belonging; they’re met by experiencing.” Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future, in which six 20s and 30s say what they need to find their home in the Jewish community. Winter 2012.
Rebecca Missel. “How many times can a young person go to synagogue alone and be ignored by the leadership before he/she decides to give up?” Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future, in which six 20s and 30s say what they need to find their home in the Jewish community. Winter 2012.
conversation with Jonathan Sarna. Historian Sarna sheds lights on what history can teach us about engaging the next generation of Jews and what to make of young Jews who are questioning and disrupting the establishment. Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future. Winter 2012.
The exponential growth of a pluralistic minyan primarily serving 20s and 30s in Astoria, New York which was created by two HUC-JIR rabbinical students—and what congregations can learn from their initiative.
Jane E. Herman. What Reform congregations and others have learned about engaging 20- and 30-something Jews.
Accessibility & Inclusion  
Renee Ghert-Zand. Congregations that have been pioneers in this effort as well as experts offer guidance on making temple communities more inclusive to people with disabilities. Includes sidebar on the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Synagogue Inclusion initiative. Summer 2014.
No byline. Using the occasion of moving into a new synagogue home to creatively engage the congregational community in communicating individual and shared dreams, via a collaborative poem and more. Summer 2014.
No byline. One congregation’s experience of renting a camp for Yom Kippur and innovating artful and nature-driven ways to experience the essence of the Day of Atonement. Summer 2014.
RJ magazine readers throughout North America discuss breaking down denominational barriers, re-envisioning our Movement’s name, standing for something timeless, and shaping the Reform future. Fall 2012 web exclusive.
Jeffrey Govendo. Applying community-organizing methodology to the rabbi search at Congregation B’nai Shalom, Westborough, Massachusetts. Fall 2012.
Elliot Strom (yes) and Arnold Gluck (no). Two congregational rabbis debate this issue. Spring 2012.
What Reform Judaism readers say about how to boost synagogue membership, ensure our economic vitality, and secure the Reform Jewish future in North America. Grassroots responses to the crucial congregational issues of our times. Covers such issues as accessibility and inclusion, being a caring community, finances, temple management, membership, transformation, and welcoming. Winter 2011.
Jane E. Herman. Congregational stories of how a process of strategic visioning (in which a congregation works together to define what is unique and beloved about it, articulate its core Jewish values/hopes, and imagines a new future) can become a means of engaging the entire community in building and bonding, allow for better congregational decision-making, and offer members were entrees into active synagogue life; also includes “how-to“ advice by URJ consultants & other experts. Fall 2011.
Sue Fishkoff. Explains how an oneg can make or break a congregation’s recruitment efforts, oneg history, different systems to differentiate and welcome newcomers to the congregation, and more. Includes a sidebar guide to breaking the ice, “8 Ways To Greet a Stranger in Synagogue,” by Marcia Nichols. Fall 2011.
A symposium with Shirley Gordon, Judi Ratner, Peter Rubinstein, David Wolfman. Time-tested advice on handling three fictional congregational conflict scenarios, with an emphasis on how to include the entire congregation in the process. Includes "10 Ways To Cool Down Hot Meetings." Summer 2011.
Annette Powers. Successful congregational strategies to recruit prospective members and to engage new ones in temple life. Includes URJ resources. Summer 2011.
How Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City created a special Rosh Hashanah service that was greatly valued by Jews with special needs and their families; includes tips. Summer 2011.
Every two years, Congregation M'kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, New Jersey puts on an all-day, community-wide outdoor party called the M'korstock Festival of Music, Arts & Shalom. Summer 2011.
Miriam and David Solomon and seven other Jews were left without a Reform congregation in Helena, Arkansas, so the Solomons' son Lafe had the High Holy Day services of Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C. filmed and shown in their living room. Spring 2011.
Jane E. Herman. What Reform congregations and others have learned about engaging 20- and 30-something Jews.
Jane E. Herman. How Reform congregations are providing Jewish enrichment to children with special needs; includes time-tested ways to offer them creative and fulfilling b'nai mitzvah ceremonies. Winter 2009.
Susan Cohen. Opinion article: "Why give seating priority to wealthier members at the expense of worshipers with disabilities?" Fall 2005.
(web exclusive) Susan Cohen. Information on national organizations for the deaf and becoming a Liheyot-accessible congregation. Fall 2005.
Architecture  
Advice from URJ architectural expert Judith Erger on how to remain in an outdated synagogue building and still save funds. Summer 2010.
Jane E. Herman. What we can learn from Reform Jews, Reform congregations, and the Union for Reform Judaism about sustaining the planet for future generations. Spring 2009.
Professor Lee I. Levine. Discusses two distinctive finds - the Dura Europos Synagogue in Syria and the Sardis Synagogue in today's Turkey - that have changed our view of Jewish art in antiquity. Winter 2008.
Professor Lee I. Levine. The synagogue boom of surprising diversity in ancient Israel during the 4th century C.E.-7th century C.E. Summer 2008.
Professor Lee I. Levine. The evolution of the synagogue in Roman-occupied Palestine. Winter 2007.
Art  
How Temple Emanuel of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland successfully infuses art and music into congregational life. Fall 2011.
Caring Community  
Renee Ghert-Zand. Congregations that have been pioneers in this effort as well as experts offer guidance on making temple communities more inclusive to people with disabilities. Includes sidebar on the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Synagogue Inclusion initiative. Summer 2014.
No byline. Congregational model of bringing people who need constant care into the temple to be cared for by volunteers in an action-packed program that benefits caregivers, those needing care, and volunteers alike. Summer 2014.
interview with Edythe Held Mencher and Marsha Elser. How congregations can best respond to the emotional, legal, social, financial, and spiritual challenges faced by divorced couples. Fall 2013.
interview with Allison Fine. A temple president and co-author of The Networked Nonprofit discusses why synagogues need a new networked model, one of community rooted in conversation, to nourish the feeling of “matter-ness.” Summer 2013.
No byline. Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, New Jersey became the 1st Reform synagogue in the U.S. to host a Peace of Mind group, helping a unit of 16 Israeli soldiers work through their traumatic experiences. Summer 2013.
No byline. A free shiva registry service started by Sharon Rosen can streamline shiva arrangements for congregations and individuals, and strengthen congregational community. Spring 2013.
How B’nai Israel Synagogue – Don Abraham Jewish Cultural Center, Rochester, Minnesota is providing hospitality for Jewish residents and patients from all over the world who come for treatment to the Mayo Clinic. Winter 2011. PDF.
What Reform Judaism readers say about how to boost synagogue membership, ensure our economic vitality, and secure the Reform Jewish future in North America. Grassroots responses to the crucial congregational issues of our times. Covers such issues as accessibility and inclusion, being a caring community, finances, temple management, membership, transformation, and welcoming. Winter 2011.
The rewards of Temple Beth El in Charlotte having partnered with eight Jewish agencies on the Shalom Park campus to launch the Shalom Park Freedom School, offering intensive literacy education to 50 low-income summer campers in a summer camp environment.
Marilyn Hawkes. Reform congregations have created model caring communities which serve as extended families for congregants needing emotional, physical, and spiritual help. Here's how to follow their example. Spring 2010.
Jane E. Herman. Since the economy began its freefall, Reform congregations and individuals are responding with compassionate to support people without jobs in their communities and beyond. Fall 2009.
Marge Eiseman. Members of Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee knit a mitzvah shawl for Eiseman after her son's unexpected death, easing her own painful journey back to life. Summer 2007
Death & Dying  
No byline. A free shiva registry service started by Sharon Rosen can streamline shiva arrangements for congregations and individuals, and strengthen congregational community. Spring 2013.
Debby Waldman. An overview of Reform congregations that offer members a place for burial of non-Jewish as well as Jewish members; includes URJ resources on temple cemetery policies. Fall 2009.
The New Community Chevra Kaddisha, a burial society in Pittsburgh by and for the entire Jewish community. Winter 2008.
Sue Fishkoff. Exploration of the Reform congregations and individuals engaged in a traditional Jewish funeral practice-the physical preparation of a body for burial-and the deep sense of fulfillment it brings. Spring 2004.
Beth M. Gilbert. Temple bereavement support groups are helping mourners express their pain and cope with loss. Summer 1997.
Early Childhood  
Barbara Pash. How congregations can successfully engage young families. Profiles model congregations of different sizes and presents experts’ tips for success. Winter 2012.
no byline. Highlights “The Open Tent” program established by Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, which is engaging three different demographics: young professionals 25-45, expectant parents, and new parents. Winter 2012.
Education: Innovations & Best Practices  
Tali Zelkowicz. “When educators view Judaism as being in opposition to music lessons or sports, they set up an unproductive, unwinnable cultural war.” Spring 2014.
No byline. Describes some of the innovative ways congregations are exciting teens about Judaism. Profiles congregations with outstanding teen engagement and interviews experts about what works with teens and why. Winter 2013.
Julie Schwartz. Profiles of cutting-edge congregational b’nai mitzvah educational strategies and programs that are capturing the hearts and minds of Jewish youth, and interviews with experts on best practices for b’nai mitzvah education, Hebrew instruction, and more. Fall 2013.
symposium with Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Rabbi Paul Yedwab, & Dr. Jonathan S. Woocher. To excite teens about Judaism, congregations need to meet them at the juncture of their passions and redesign Jewish education from passive learning into active partnership. Fall 2013.
Barbara Pash. How congregations can successfully engage young families. Profiles model congregations of different sizes and presents experts’ tips for success. Winter 2012.
No byline. The adult-ed Torah study class at Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook, New York is still going strong after 23 years. Summer 2012.
Sarah Newmark. How the new rabbi of a Bremerton, Washington synagogue turned a challenge—the religious school students' not knowing the real meaning of their Hebrew names and not having connections to them—into a Congregation Wide Naming Project. Summer 2011.
A symposium. Twelve Jewish day school students - Jonathan Bleiberg, Sterling Dixon, Alex Garnick, Bari Gold, Rebecca Greenberg, Benjamin Lee, Max Lewis, Madeline Press, Samantha Shinder, Mariel Tivoli, Jacob Tommey, and Jack Zucker - share their personal perspectives on heroism, human flaws, God, social justice, technology, and more - largely informed by the Reform Jewish day school experience. Spring 2011.
Temple Sinai in Washington, DC has reinvigorated its religious school experience, the students learning quicker and better, through giving choices in timing of religious school and smaller classes. Part of "What Works: Ideas & Initiatives" column. Fall 2010.
Interview with Rabbi Jan Katzew. To stem the high dropout rate post b'nai mitzvah, learn from the 7-10% of Reform religious schools that retain 80%+ of students through 12th grade, all of which have key factors in common. Winter 2009.
Ruth Dickstein. Members of Temple Emanu-El in Tucson, Arizona are challenged to beyond their Jewish comfort level and become teachers of Torah-a process contributing to the temple's growth from 350 to 725 families in three years. Spring 2003.
Beth M. Gilbert. Profiles of innovative instructors in the congregational setting. Spring 2000
Diane Schuster and Isa Aron. Teaching strategies that work best for adults in your congregation. Summer 1998.
Finance: Cost Savings & Finding Funding  
interview with Shawn Landres. The first comprehensive study of the giving habits of American Jews suggests new ways of approaching Jewish philanthropy. Summer 2014.
interview with Dan Judson. Several Reform congregations are experimenting with a “free will” system whereby members pay what they wish. What can we learn from this radical rethinking of dues? Article explores the reasons congregations are introducing new dues systems, how congregations transitioned into the “free will” system, member and bottom-line benefits reported by a variety of different congregations, commonalities in congregations with successful “free will” systems, and other models of synagogue financing. Sidebar reports on the URJ’s Reimagining Financial Support Community of Practice and its Active Learning Network. Spring 2014.
Michael L. Feshbach. Making the case for and introducing new verbiage for the words “membership” and “dues” in the Reform Movement in order to build more connected and holy communities. Fall 2013.
Julie Schwartz. Reform congregations of different sizes have enacted greening initiatives, re-conceptualized their energy usage, and developed space-sharing arrangements with other denominations, all resulting in significant cost reductions. Here’s how to follow their example. Spring 2013.
Mark Jacobson, Judy Buckman. Two temple executive directors present differing perspectives on this issue based on such concerns as “sound business principles” and “the very mention of dues leaving a negative impression.” Winter 2011.
Gender Matters (Men & Women)  
Jonathan D. Sarna. In the early 1900s, the dynamo behind NFTS’ Committee on Religion in the helped pioneer such cultural and religious practices as Hanukkah greeting cards, congregational singing at services, women’s representation on temple boards, and women’s increasingly significant roles on the bimah. Adaptation from Sisterhood: A Centennial History of Women of Reform Judaism. Winter 2013.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs. The URJ president champions justice and fairness for women, focusing on two current issues: healthcare in the military and equal pay within the workforce. Winter 2012.
a conversation with Dolores Kosberg Wilkenfeld, Lynn Magid Lazar, and Dara Amram. Three Women of Reform Judaism of different generations offer insider perspectives on the power and promise of Sisterhood (first NFTS, now WRJ) in its first 100 years. Winter 2012.
Laura Geller. How do I balance the desire to be acknowledged while making space for others to shine? Part of Finding the Right Balance. Spring 2011.
Juliana Schnur. How do I balance my work - where I'm a valued member of the team - with what it takes to meet the right man? Part of Finding the Right Balance. Spring 2011.
Why men are leaving the synagogue and what can be done to bring them back. Fall 2006
Marge Eiseman. At the Rosh Chodesh Havurah of Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee, we create, sing, play, teach, learn, and support one another while celebrating an ancient Jewish holiday and marking the new moon as a day of rest for women. Winter 2000.
Marge Eiseman. 5 pointers; includes recommended resources. Winter 2000.
Jeffrey Salkin. The unspoken crisis facing modern Judaism is the disengagement of men from the synagogue. What do Jewish men need? Spring 1998.
Greening/Environment  
Julie Schwartz. Reform congregations of different sizes have enacted greening initiatives, re-conceptualized their energy usage, and developed space-sharing arrangements with other denominations, all resulting in significant cost reductions. Here’s how to follow their example. Spring 2013.
A conversation with Rabbis Mike Comins, Kevin Kleinman, Jamie Korngold, and Owen Gottlieb. Our biblical ancestors first experienced God in the wilderness. What did they know that we need to rediscover? Fall 2010.
Interview. Four Kibbutz Lotan ecology experts explain why environmentalism is a Jewish imperative and how Reform Jews and congregations throughout North America can re-envision and transform our relationship with the earth. Winter 2009.
Jane E. Herman. What we can learn from Reform Jews, Reform congregations, and the Union for Reform Judaism about sustaining the planet for future generations. Spring 2009.
Sheryl Lechner. Temple Micah in Washington, DC achieves living lightly on the Earth. Summer 2005.
Holiday Celebrations  
No byline. One congregation’s experience of renting a camp for Yom Kippur and innovating artful and nature-driven ways to experience the essence of the Day of Atonement. Summer 2014.
Ryan E. Smith. Congregations’ innovative approaches to strengthening member involvement on the Day of Rest. Summer 2012.
Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills and Congregation Or Chadash in Damascus, MD are engaging congregants in discussing their stories as well as their hopes and dreams for the New Year. Summer 2009.
Andi Rosenthal. From "Vodka & Latkes" to "Chanuplex", the variety of Reform congregational programs that are shining a creative light on Chanukah. Winter 2008.
Mark S. Glickman. A joyful Simchat Torah experience vanished when a member of Congregation Kol Ami in Woodinville, Washington tripped and their Torah scroll crashed to the floor. How the congregation dealt with the sin of dropping the Torah. Spring 2008.
Interdenominational & Interfaith Relations  
Julie Schwartz. Reform congregations of different sizes have enacted greening initiatives, re-conceptualized their energy usage, and developed space-sharing arrangements with other denominations, all resulting in significant cost reductions. Here’s how to follow their example. Spring 2013.
Daniel Kirzane (yes) and Brandon Bernstein (no). Two HUC-JIR rabbinical students debate this issue. Spring 2013.
a conversation with Sarah Bassin. The executive director of the L.A.-based organization NewGround discusses trends in Muslim-Jewish relations as well as tested, effective ways to build interfaith relationships. Spring 2013.
RJ magazine readers throughout North America discuss breaking down denominational barriers, re-envisioning our Movement’s name, standing for something timeless, and shaping the Reform future. Fall 2012 web exclusive.
Elliot Strom (yes) and Arnold Gluck (no). Two congregational rabbis debate this issue. Spring 2012.
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender  
Andrew Ramer (yes) and Morrie Hartman (no). How one lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender event changed a congregation; and how one man felt isolated in being reached out to because of sexual orientation rather than his Jewishness. Fall 2010.
Helen T. Cohn. A rabbi's journey of parental acceptance: "When my daughter Laura was becoming Lawrence, I told almost no one at first. I felt too astonished and ashamed." Part of Cover Story on "Living With Secrets." Fall 2010.
Susan Talve. To create an integrated, safe, and welcoming place for Jews of color, Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri followed a similar model to the successful one they had implemented in reaching out to the GLBT community in the 1980s. Spring 2010.
Mike Rankin. After the Union's 1985 Biennial in Los Angeles, we gay men and lesbians no longer felt like strangers and wayfarers. The doors of the tent of Sarah and Abraham had opened to us. Fall 2007.
Laura Wolfson. Wolfson and her partner were among thousands of Canadian gay and lesbian couples who walked down the aisle following Canada's landmark 2003 court rulings approving gay and lesbian marriage. She laments the fact that her own synagogue would not agree to host their marriage ceremony. Fall 2004. PDF
Sue Levi Elwell. The author questions whether any Jewish wedding can be called holy by a community that denies the holiness of the unions of some of its members; reflects on her own marriage to Nurit Shein; and calls on the Reform Movement to recognize gay and lesbian marriage as a sacred union. Winter 1998.
Beth M. Gilbert. A growing number of same-sex Jewish couples are choosing to affirm their relationship with a commitment ceremony in the synagogue. Summer 1996.
Harold M. Schulweis. A rabbi re-examines the biblical prohibition against homosexuals when confronted with the confessions of his congregants. Summer 1994. PDF
Janet Marder. A historical examination of the issues surrounding the ordination and acceptance of gay and lesbian rabbis in the Reform Jewish community. Winter 1990. PDF
Yoel Kahn. A rabbi reflects on what it was like, as a gay man, to pursue rabbinical ordination at the Reform seminary HUC-JIR, including his fears of being "found out." Winter 1990. PDF
Management  
Kerry M. Olitzky. The executive director of Big Tent Judaism / Jewish Outreach Institute offers 10 congregational Public Space Judaism approaches/initiatives that have proven effective.
interview with Ronald Heifetz. The founding director of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard discusses the most effective approaches to generating and sustaining organizational change in the synagogue context, including the differences between technical and adaptive solutions, mistakes to watch out for, expectations regarding the pace of change, navigating diverse viewpoints, and more. Part of Focus: The Art of Change, Summer 2014.
Renee Ghert-Zand. Congregations that have been pioneers in this effort as well as experts offer guidance on making temple communities more inclusive to people with disabilities. Includes sidebar on the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Synagogue Inclusion initiative. Summer 2014.
interview with Ron Wolfson. Reflecting on 20 years on the frontlines of synagogue transformation; Wolfson explores the vital signs to a congregation’s health, how long it takes to change a congregation’s culture, pitfalls to avoid, and lessons from successful businesses. Part of Focus: The Art of Change, Summer 2014.
Dan Moskovitz. A congregational rabbi discusses initiatives to open up Judaism to the public in Whole Foods, ball fields, bookstores, beaches, homes, and more. Part of Focus: The Art of Change, Summer 2014.
Karyn Kedar. The senior rabbi reflects on the five core values underlying the revival of B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in greater Chicago. Part of Focus: The Art of Change, Summer 2014.
No byline. Using the occasion of moving into a new synagogue home to creatively engage the congregational community in communicating individual and shared dreams, via a collaborative poem and more. Summer 2014.
No byline. One congregation’s experience of renting a camp for Yom Kippur and innovating artful and nature-driven ways to experience the essence of the Day of Atonement. Summer 2014.
interview with Dan Judson. Several Reform congregations are experimenting with a “free will” system whereby members pay what they wish. What can we learn from this radical rethinking of dues? Article explores the reasons congregations are introducing new dues systems, how congregations transitioned into the “free will” system, member and bottom-line benefits reported by a variety of different congregations, commonalities in congregations with successful “free will” systems, and other models of synagogue financing. Sidebar reports on the URJ’s Reimagining Financial Support Community of Practice and its Active Learning Network. Spring 2014.
interview with Edythe Held Mencher and Marsha Elser. How congregations can best respond to the emotional, legal, social, financial, and spiritual challenges faced by divorced couples. Fall 2013.
Michael L. Feshbach. Making the case for and introducing new verbiage for the words “membership” and “dues” in the Reform Movement in order to build more connected and holy communities. Fall 2013.
Julie Schwartz. How Reform synagogues turned their Biennial experience into lasting change: re-energizing congregants, increasing membership, engaging youth, involving young families, reviving a caring community, and more. Summer 2013.
interview with Allison Fine. A temple president and co-author of The Networked Nonprofit discusses why synagogues need a new networked model, one of community rooted in conversation, to nourish the feeling of “matter-ness.” Summer 2013.
No byline. A free shiva registry service started by Sharon Rosen can streamline shiva arrangements for congregations and individuals, and strengthen congregational community. Spring 2013.
Julie Schwartz. Reform congregations of different sizes have enacted greening initiatives, re-conceptualized their energy usage, and developed space-sharing arrangements with other denominations, all resulting in significant cost reductions. Here’s how to follow their example. Spring 2013.
Barbara Pash. How congregations can successfully engage young families. Profiles model congregations of different sizes and presents experts’ tips for success. Winter 2012.
no byline. Highlights “The Open Tent” program established by Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach, which is engaging three different demographics: young professionals 25-45, expectant parents, and new parents. Winter 2012.
Gail Aspinwall. Temple Judea in Tarzana, California presents a loving tribute to surprised Rabbi Donald Goor. Winter 2012.
Ryan E. Smith. Proven strategies to retain adult membership in your synagogue based on other URJ congregational models and expert advice. Includes URJ resources. Fall 2012.
Jeffrey Govendo. Applying community-organizing methodology to the rabbi search at Congregation B’nai Shalom, Westborough, Massachusetts. Fall 2012.
Ryan E. Smith. Rabbis, lay leaders, and consultants reflect on how to foster a sacred partnership grounded in respect, cooperation, and purpose. Spring 2012.
Ryan E. Smith. Advice from Reform congregations, URJ consultants, and other experts on how to identify, cultivate, and train the volunteers of today and tomorrow. Winter 2011.
Mark Jacobson, Judy Buckman. Two temple executive directors present differing perspectives on this issue based on such concerns as “sound business principles” and “the very mention of dues leaving a negative impression.” Winter 2011.
What Reform Judaism readers say about how to boost synagogue membership, ensure our economic vitality, and secure the Reform Jewish future in North America. Grassroots responses to the crucial congregational issues of our times. Covers such issues as accessibility and inclusion, being a caring community, finances, temple management, membership, transformation, and welcoming. Winter 2011.
Jane L. Levere. The URJ is partnering with the Jewish Community Legacy Project to help congregations that may be nearing the end of their lifecycle determine what would best happen to their building, Torah scrolls, and more. Winter 2011.
Jane E. Herman. Congregational stories of how a process of strategic visioning (in which a congregation works together to define what is unique and beloved about it, articulate its core Jewish values/hopes, and imagines a new future) can become a means of engaging the entire community in building and bonding, allow for better congregational decision-making, and offer members were entrees into active synagogue life; also includes “how-to“ advice by URJ consultants & other experts. Fall 2011.
YES by Liz Hirsch, NO by Randi Jaffe. In this debate, one synagogue executive director finds that this practice boosts membership; the other believes that offering free services may doom the synagogue as an institution. Fall 2011.
Sue Fishkoff. Explains how an oneg can make or break a congregation’s recruitment efforts, oneg history, different systems to differentiate and welcome newcomers to the congregation, and more. Includes a sidebar guide to breaking the ice, “8 Ways To Greet a Stranger in Synagogue,” by Marcia Nichols. Fall 2011.
A symposium with Shirley Gordon, Judi Ratner, Peter Rubinstein, David Wolfman. Most serious conflicts within the synagogue are preventable, say our experts. They offer time-tested advice on handling three fictional congregational conflict scenarios. Includes "10 Ways To Cool Down Hot Meetings." Summer 2011.
Annette Powers. Successful congregational strategies to recruit prospective members and to engage new ones in temple life. Includes URJ resources. Summer 2011.
Three model congregational programs: an ongoing group of non-Jewish spouses, "Three Evenings with the Rabbi" for non-Jewish spouses, a group of mothers not born Jewish who are raising their children as Jews. Part of "What Works: Innovative Interfaith Initiatives." Summer 2010.
A conversation with "Temple Doc" Dale Glasser on avoiding common congregational pitfalls and managing for success. Fall 2003.
Membership  
Kerry M. Olitzky. The executive director of Big Tent Judaism / Jewish Outreach Institute offers 10 congregational Public Space Judaism approaches/initiatives that have proven effective.
Renee Ghert-Zand. Congregations that have been pioneers in this effort as well as experts offer guidance on making temple communities more inclusive to people with disabilities. Includes sidebar on the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Synagogue Inclusion initiative. Summer 2014.
interview with Dan Judson. Several Reform congregations are experimenting with a “free will” system whereby members pay what they wish. What can we learn from this radical rethinking of dues? Article explores the reasons congregations are introducing new dues systems, how congregations transitioned into the “free will” system, member and bottom-line benefits reported by a variety of different congregations, commonalities in congregations with successful “free will” systems, and other models of synagogue financing. Sidebar reports on the URJ’s Reimagining Financial Support Community of Practice and its Active Learning Network. Spring 2014.
Michael L. Feshbach. Making the case for and introducing new verbiage for the words “membership” and “dues” in the Reform Movement in order to build more connected and holy communities. Fall 2013.
Julie Schwartz. How Reform synagogues turned their Biennial experience into lasting change: re-energizing congregants, increasing membership, engaging youth, involving young families, reviving a caring community, and more. Summer 2013.
Memory  
For its 150-year anniversary, Congregation B'nai Israel created the film "L'Dor V'Dor - From Generation to Generation" to memorialize the temple's rich history and tell the story of its survival. Spring 2011.
Music  
Julie Schwartz. How Reform synagogues turned their Biennial experience into lasting change: re-energizing congregants, increasing membership, engaging youth, involving young families, reviving a caring community, and more. Summer 2013.
How Temple Emanuel of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland successfully infuses art and music into congregational life. Fall 2011.
Melanie Goldish. The story of how Debbie Friedman supported the author's young son Travis, who was being treated for cancer, and Travis' brother too. Part of Tribute: Music Legend Debbie Friedman. Spring 2011.
Alane S. Katzew. Debbie Friedman's four masterful skills that allowed her to transform a group of strangers into a sacred community. Part of Tribute: Music Legend Debbie Friedman. Spring 2011.
Daniel Freelander. Reflections on Debbie Friedman's influence in the Reform Movement. Part of Tribute: Music Legend Debbie Friedman. Spring 2011.
Older Adults  
A conversation with Rabbi Richard Address. How congregations are responding to the needs of an increasingly vital older generation. Fall 1999.
Rabbinic Transition  
Jeffrey Govendo. Applying community-organizing methodology to the rabbi search at Congregation B’nai Shalom, Westborough, Massachusetts. Fall 2012.
A symposium with Shirley Gordon, Judi Ratner, Peter Rubinstein, David Wolfman. Time-tested advice on handling three fictional congregational conflict scenarios, including when a beloved senior rabbi is retiring and the associate has applied for the position, dividing the congregation. Summer 2011.
Deborah Prinz. How engaging a trained interim rabbi can smooth out the successor/emeritus dynamic, shifting the congregation's attention away from what was to what can be. Summer 2010.
Small Congregations  
Julie Schwartz. How Reform synagogues turned their Biennial experience into lasting change: re-energizing congregants, increasing membership, engaging youth, involving young families, reviving a caring community, and more. Summer 2013.
Julie Schwartz. Reform congregations of different sizes have enacted greening initiatives, re-conceptualized their energy usage, and developed space-sharing arrangements with other denominations, all resulting in significant cost reductions. Here’s how to follow their example. Spring 2013.
Jane L. Levere. The URJ is partnering with the Jewish Community Legacy Project to help congregations that may be nearing the end of their lifecycle determine what would best happen to their building, Torah scrolls, and more. Winter 2011.
Sarah Newmark. How the new rabbi of a Bremerton, Washington synagogue turned a challenge—the religious school students' not knowing the real meaning of their Hebrew names and not having connections to them—into a Congregation Wide Naming Project. Summer 2011.
Debby Waldman. How Temple Beth Ora in Edmonton has blossomed since it moved into a space shared by a Jewish funeral home. Summer 2009.
Social Action  
Stephanie Kolin and Julie Chizewer Weill. An inside look at how Reform leaders and congregants throughout California helped achieve a major victory for the state’s three million undocumented immigrants. Includes how individuals and congregations can join the Reform CA movement. Spring 2014.
Stephen M. Sacks. The URJ’s Just Congregations program assists congregations and individuals in fulfilling their commitment to social justice. Here’s how. Winter 2012.
The rewards of Temple Beth El in Charlotte having partnered with eight Jewish agencies on the Shalom Park campus to launch the Shalom Park Freedom School, offering intensive literacy education to 50 low-income summer campers in a summer camp environment.
Temple Israel, Ottawa volunteers are making baby quilts for families in Israel affected by terrorism. Spring 2011.
Guardian angel for homeless couples; hydrate a child & save a life; "turkey train"; retirees' mitzvah corps; mitzvah matchmaker. Winter 2010.
Technology  
Mary Ann Sternberg. Sick with bronchitis, the author decided to stream Rosh Hashanah services at three different congregations, including KK Bene Israel / Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati and Central Synagogue in NYC. She describes her experiences and offers streaming tips for temples. Summer 2013.
interview with Allison Fine. A temple president and co-author of The Networked Nonprofit discusses why synagogues need a new networked model, one of community rooted in conversation, to nourish the feeling of “matter-ness.” Summer 2013.
Lisa Colton. Five ways your congregation can use social media to engage members and potential members. Summer 2012.
Jane E. Herman. How cutting-edge technology is being used to develop innovative practices that enrich worship, enhance sacred space, educate, and build community within the synagogue and beyond. Features many congregational models. Summer 2009
As part of an RJ magazine forum, five rabbis and three lay leaders share their perspectives on how the latest technologies are changing Jewish life in synagogues and homes. Summer 2009.
Transformation  
Kerry M. Olitzky. The executive director of Big Tent Judaism / Jewish Outreach Institute offers 10 congregational Public Space Judaism approaches/initiatives that have proven effective.
interview with Ronald Heifetz. The founding director of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard discusses the most effective approaches to generating and sustaining organizational change in the synagogue context, including the differences between technical and adaptive solutions, mistakes to watch out for, expectations regarding the pace of change, navigating diverse viewpoints, and more. Part of Focus: The Art of Change, Summer 2014.
interview with Ron Wolfson. Reflecting on 20 years on the frontlines of synagogue transformation; Wolfson explores the vital signs to a congregation’s health, how long it takes to change a congregation’s culture, pitfalls to avoid, and lessons from successful businesses. Part of Focus: The Art of Change, Summer 2014.
Dan Moskovitz. A congregational rabbi discusses initiatives to open up Judaism to the public in Whole Foods, ball fields, bookstores, beaches, homes, and more. Part of Focus: The Art of Change, Summer 2014.
Karyn Kedar. The senior rabbi reflects on the five core values underlying the revival of B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in greater Chicago. Part of Focus: The Art of Change, Summer 2014.
Welcoming  
Kerry M. Olitzky. The executive director of Big Tent Judaism / Jewish Outreach Institute offers 10 congregational Public Space Judaism approaches/initiatives that have proven effective.
Renee Ghert-Zand. Congregations that have been pioneers in this effort as well as experts offer guidance on making temple communities more inclusive to people with disabilities. Includes sidebar on the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Synagogue Inclusion initiative. Summer 2014.
interview with Dan Judson. Several Reform congregations are experimenting with a “free will” system whereby members pay what they wish. What can we learn from this radical rethinking of dues? Article explores the reasons congregations are introducing new dues systems, how congregations transitioned into the “free will” system, member and bottom-line benefits reported by a variety of different congregations, commonalities in congregations with successful “free will” systems, and other models of synagogue financing. Sidebar reports on the URJ’s Reimagining Financial Support Community of Practice and its Active Learning Network. Spring 2014.
interview with Edythe Held Mencher and Marsha Elser. How congregations can best respond to the emotional, legal, social, financial, and spiritual challenges faced by divorced couples. Fall 2013.
interview with Allison Fine. A temple president and co-author of The Networked Nonprofit discusses why synagogues need a new networked model, one of community rooted in conversation, to nourish the feeling of “matter-ness.” Summer 2013.
Worship  
Mary Ann Sternberg. Sick with bronchitis, the author decided to stream Rosh Hashanah services at three different congregations, including KK Bene Israel / Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati and Central Synagogue in NYC. She describes her experiences and offers streaming tips for temples. Summer 2013.
An RJ-ARZA collaboration. A guide to all 40 IMPJ congregations, with worship and contact information and a color-coded Visitor’s Map of every community. Part of RJ Insider’s Guide to Israel Travel. Summer 2013.
Josh Nelson. “We want prayer experiences in and of the moment—ones without an alternative agenda or expectation of our doing or giving.” Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future, in which six 20s and 30s say what they need to find their home in the Jewish community. Winter 2012.
Sarah Lefton. “As parents of a 3-year-old, there isn’t a place where my husband and I can learn in a serious way at the same time.” Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future, in which six 20s and 30s say what they need to find their home in the Jewish community. Winter 2012.
Ryan E. Smith. Congregations’ innovative approaches to strengthening member involvement on the Day of Rest. Summer 2012.
Youth Engagement  
No byline. Describes some of the innovative ways congregations are exciting teens about Judaism. Profiles congregations with outstanding teen engagement and interviews experts about what works with teens and why. Winter 2013.
Julie Schwartz. Profiles of cutting-edge congregational b’nai mitzvah educational strategies and programs that are capturing the hearts and minds of Jewish youth, and interviews with experts on best practices for b’nai mitzvah education, Hebrew instruction, and more. Fall 2013.
symposium with Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Rabbi Paul Yedwab, & Dr. Jonathan S. Woocher. To excite teens about Judaism, congregations need to meet them at the juncture of their passions and redesign Jewish education from passive learning into active partnership. Fall 2013.
Julie Schwartz. How Reform synagogues turned their Biennial experience into lasting change: re-energizing congregants, increasing membership, engaging youth, involving young families, reviving a caring community, and more. Summer 2013.
interview with Allison Fine. A temple president and co-author of The Networked Nonprofit discusses why synagogues need a new networked model, one of community rooted in conversation, to nourish the feeling of “matter-ness.” Summer 2013.
All Articles on Strengthening Synagogues  
 
Union for Reform Judaism.