The Community Synagogue is Chosen for Select Group of North American Congregations
Engaging Baby Boomers
July 5, 2016, Port Washington, New York – The Community Synagogue is one of 17 Reform congregations in North America selected to participate in the newly formed Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Community of Practice dedicated to Engaging Baby Boomers. This URJ Community of Practice (CoP) is a congregational networking group for Reform congregations that are seeking to discover new ways to engage baby boomers in our congregations.
By participating in this initiative, The Community Synagogue will have the opportunity to meet with leaders from congregations with common interests to share ideas and experiment together with new strategies. The Community Synagogue will also have access to the URJ’s professional staff and expert consultants, some of the most renowned thought leaders in their fields.
Rabbi Zeplowitz explains, "Some of our Baby Boomers are moving from our suburban location back to the city, but the majority of those who are here remain in the area. We know that they continue to be active and involved in activities of interest, but not necessarily in the synagogue. We believe that it would be good for our congregation to have a more active cohort of Baby Boomers involved because –
• first, a strong community is one that honors those of every age and generation;
• second, it provides a grounding in the synagogue in institutional “history"
• third, it gives a Jewish outlet for the desire of many Baby Boomers to “give back” to society and
• finally, it would provide greater stability for our synagogue given the greater financial well-being of this generational cohort.
Given our commitment to a “sacred community” that supports people of every age and stage of life, we believe that continued involvement of Baby Boomers can be of value to them, showing that their continued contribution to our mission is needed and honored."
“Across North America, people hunger for real connections. They want – they need – to be part of meaningful communities," said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. “The URJ communities of practice will give Reform congregations opportunities to work together, take risks, explore new ideas, innovate and have unprecedented access to top experts."
The 17 congregations in the Engaging Baby Boomers Community of Practice will work together formally for 24 months to push the boundaries of existing congregational efforts. Participating congregations will receive guidance from peers and advisors to experiment in their own communities, create congregational innovations, and garner skills that will benefit all areas of congregational life.
This Community of Practice will include an in-person meeting for congregational staff and lay leadership involved in the initiative at an-person convening in Chicago, IL from October 30-November 1, 2016. There also will be monthly virtual gatherings and e-learning opportunities. Finally, results of these strategic experiments will be shared with congregations outside the Community of Practice and with the Reform Movement at large.
“URJ’s Communities of Practice (CoP) inspire congregations to build the skills to experiment and innovate in areas of congregational life that are important to them. We connect congregational leaders to each other as well as to experts, valuable resources, and learning opportunities. The cohort model allows congregations to engage with a group to experiment, lowering the risk and sharing learning,” said Amy Asin, URJ Vice President of Strengthening Congregations. “From the work of previous CoP cohorts, we know that the support available in belonging to a committed group focused on areas of interest encourages congregations to delve more deeply into their work and creates a longer term commitment to build the skills for experimentation. The participants engaged in this sacred work will grapple with challenges and celebrate successes across the network. We also look forward to sharing what they learn and do with all URJ congregations.”