01 May

Synagogues that Get "It"

I met with a young rabbinical student this morning. We had an inspiring conversation, the kind that fills you with promise for the future.

She asked me what commonalities I see among synagogues who are moving in the right direction. This is one of those times when I felt like my on-the-spot answer warranted a blog (hence you are reading this), and I would love to hear what you agree with, disagree with and would add.

Based on my experience in the synagogue space, those that seem to be positioning themselves well for the future share these traits:

  1. They are programming from the bottom up and not from the top down, generating ideas from congregants’ actual interests and needs as opposed to what seems like a good program idea from a staff or a committee chair or based on what they have always done before.
  2. They are focused on connecting their congregants and forming “micro-communities” to use Relational Judaism language.
  3. They understand and are seeking to provide inspiration and meaning to congregants’ lives.
  4. They meet their congregants and potential congregants where they are and are accessible, non-judgmental and welcoming.
  5. They are using technology in a smart, intentional way to achieve all of the above, provide multi-channel communication and enhance customer service.

Even doing all of these things does not ensure that a synagogue will thrive or even survive. However, not doing these things almost surely ensures that it will do neither.

What are other hallmarks of synagogues that get it?

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