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JEWISH OUTREACH SCAN OF ATLANTA. Prepared by The Jewish Outreach Institute. With the Support of the Samberg Family Foundation. Full Narrative Report Available Online: 1270 Broadway, Suite 609 New York, NY 10001 (212) 760-1440

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jewish outreach scan of atlanta

Prepared by

The Jewish Outreach Institute

With the Support of the

Samberg Family Foundation

Full Narrative Report Available Online:

1270 Broadway, Suite 609 New York, NY 10001 (212) 760-1440

questions to answer
Questions to Answer
  • Who Does Outreach Target?
    • Defining Outreach and Understanding the Unaffiliated
  • How Are We Reaching Out?
    • Methodologies that Find and Connect the Unaffiliated
  • How Are We Welcoming In?
    • Gatekeepers, Website, Cost as a Barrier, Policies
  • How Do We Serve?
    • Recommended Next Steps

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

scan methodology
Scan Methodology
  • Anonymous Emails
    • requesting program information to 44 institutions; received 24 replies (55%)
  • Website Scan
  • Phone Interviews
    • 83 Jewish communal professionals at 46 institutions(20 communal agencies and 26 congregations of all major denominations)

Majority of institutions scanned in Atlanta identified outreach as a priority for their organizations, with 38 of 46 (83%) stating it was a very or extremely high priority

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

the outreach imperative
The Outreach Imperative

From the 2004 Jewish Community Study of North Metro Atlanta


• 51% unaffiliated with any Jewish organization;

• 59% unaffiliated with synagogues;

• Area is “much younger” than national average; families with young children most likely to affiliate.


• 35% households intermarried (48% among those married in last ten years);

• 55% of the children in intermarried households are being raised Jewish, and another 32% are being raised “Jewish and something else,” (much higher than average) but only 16% of intermarried couples are affiliated with synagogues (average).


• transient nature of the population—63% have moved to the area within the last 20 years, with only 7% born in Georgia.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005


to take Jewish community out to where the people are, rather than waiting for them to come to us


JOI’s “Public Space Judaism” Model

  • Uses outreach methodology and trained outreach professionals to create personal relationships and guide people into deeper engagement.
public space judaism programs in atlanta
“Public Space Judaism” Programs in Atlanta

Only a handful (the norm nationally) – Examples:

• My Own Backyard’s Great Shofar Blow Out, ~200 people, many unaffiliated;

• ChabadHanukkah Menorah Lightings, ~1,500 people, over 40% unaffiliated;

• Marcus JCC’s Sophie Hirsh Scrochi Discovery Museum, ~150 people, 50% unaffiliated, ~20% intermarried.

Some Partnerships with Secular Public Space Programs:

For example, Congregation Bet Haverim at Atlanta Pride Festival.

Potential “Public Space Judaism” programs:

Only identified one, Purim Parade; name collection could lead to follow-up/engagement.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

destination jewish culture programs in atlanta
“Destination Jewish Culture” Programs in Atlanta

About a dozen programs identified (the norm nationally) – Examples:

• Jewish Arts and Culture (JAC) Jewish gospel concert in a church, 1,000 people, ~45% unaffiliated; number of other JAC programs as well;

• Atlanta Jewish Film Festival of the American Jewish Committee secular theaters, 43,000 people;

• North Metro JCC’s Family Fun Day, 700 people, ~35% unaffiliated.

Several potential “Destination Jewish Culture” programs, including:

• Healthy Women, Healthy Lives program in public libraries may benefit from greater secular publicity;

• Monthly Happy Hour held in bars, attracts 40-50 young adults, 30% unaffiliated, but guesstimate since name collection is not consistent;

• Sabbath Service in the Park uses secular media and public spaces, 200 participants, 20% were unaffiliated, may benefit from systematic name-collection and follow-up (challenge of Shabbat name collection).

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

open door community programs in atlanta
“Open Door Community” Programs in Atlanta

Most prevalent type of outreach, in Atlanta and nationally.


• Marcus JCC’s Jewish Festival, 15,000 attendees, communal partnerships, raffles, secular marketing; other programs such as the Jewish Book Festival as well;

• Ahavath Achim Congregation’s Eisenstat Lecture, free, high-profiled speakers, secular marketing (incl. flyers in stores), 5,000 people;

• Chabad of Alpharetta’s Outdoor Sukkah Festival, Lag B’Omer Picnic and Shavuot Ice Cream Party, free, up to 300 participants, ~35% unaffiliated.

Many more potential “Open Door Community” programs lack

important outreach methodology, such as:

• Name collection;

• Follow-up;

• Low cost;

• Secular marketing.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

outreach methodology secular marketing and advertising
Outreach Methodology:Secular Marketing and Advertising

To reach the unaffiliated our marketing must follow our outreach

to go “where the people are,” to secular venues.

  • 42 of 46 institutions scanned (91%) use Jewish media to publicize events and services;
  • 28 of 46 (61%) have used secular media to attract participants, though sporadically; Only 4 institutions (9%) cited secular media as their most commonly used form of publicity;
  • 13 out of 46 institutions (28%) indicated the occasional use of TV or radio;
  • 14 of 46 (30%) indicated that their own institutional websites were the primary mode of publicizing events; requires the public to find them.

Example of Secular Marketing:

The Breman Museum lists exhibits in secular press including many sections of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (entertainment, arts, religion); uses PSAs on radio; and has a policy of developing reciprocal relationships with secular organizations who become “promotional partners.”

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

outreach methodology secular partnerships
Outreach Methodology:Secular Partnerships

Unaffiliated Jews may be active in a variety of the professional, political, cultural and social justice groups in Atlanta; partnering with such secular organizations allows us to find those unaffiliated Jews, learn their needs and interests, and try to engage them.

  • 15 of 46 organizations scanned (33%) collaborate with secular partners to hold joint events.

Example of Secular Partnerships:

The Jewish Family and Career Services’ Rainbow Center held a reception following the “Unspoken Past” exhibit on Atlantan gay history at the Atlanta History Center (free; ~35 participants; majority unaffiliated; names collected).

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

outreach methodology name collection
Outreach Methodology:Name Collection

We must know who comes to our outreach events in order to follow-up with them and provide relevant next steps into deeper Jewish engagement.

Effective name collection is a challenge for Jewish institutions throughout North America, and Atlanta is similar to other communities:

  • 27 of 46 institutions (59%) do sporadic or no name collection at programs they identify as reaching at least some unaffiliated participants;
  • 19 institutions (41%) do collect names consistently;
  • Only 13 out of 44 institutions (29%) asked for the e-mailer’s contact information to continue the engagement when anonymously e-mailed with a simple question about programming.

Examples of Name Collection:

  • Chabad of Cobb captures names at all events and enters them into a special database by age, affiliation and frequency of attendance;
  • At My Own Backyard’s Great Shofar Blow Out, greeters are stationed at the entrance to ensure that everyone fills out a raffle to win a shofar.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

outreach methodology follow up making personal connections
Outreach Methodology:Follow-Up/Making Personal Connections

People connect to people, not buildings or programs. We can put a face on our community through personal follow-up. As newcomers get to know us, they’ll feel more comfortable engaging the community.

  • 37 of 46 organizations scanned (80%) indicated that they or someone else in their institution follows up with newcomers, notably higher than in other communities;
  • However, considering the lack of consistent name collection among all but 19 of these organizations, follow-up is benefiting just a small percentage of potential outreach contacts;
  • 28 of 46 organizations (61%) indicated that new outreach contacts are distinguished from regular members in some way, such as entered into separate databases.

Example of Follow-Up:

Congregation Or Hadash’s membership committee assigns different people to supervise follow-up with new contacts through both a general e-mail and a personal phone call, and invitations to upcoming events.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

defining target audiences
Defining Target Audiences

“Outreach” is a methodology, not a target audience. But knowing our target audience helps us employ outreach methodology to reach the traditionally underrepresented.

Intermarried households

A sensitive topic in Atlanta, some “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies:

  • 12 of 46 organizations (26%) do not know the percentage of their intermarried members/participants; 20 (43%) believe between 0-10%; 12 (26%) believe between 11-40%; and 2 believe higher than 40%;
  • 12 of 46 organizations (26%) run programs that seek to attract intermarried participants; half of those have intermarried membership of less than 25%, 3 with less than 10%;
  • Referrals from organizations that do not offer interfaith programs are usually very general (“try the JCC or the Reform congregations”).

Multiracial Jews

No synagogue identified multiracial Jews as among its outreach priorities; only 2 organizations, AJC and JF&CS, identified this population as an outreach priority; the Marcus JCC and Federation both reported programs for this population.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

defining target audiences continued
Defining Target Audiences (continued)

Programming for Young Adults

There is considerable programming for young adults in Atlanta:

  • 21 of 46 institutions (46%) including 8 synagogues run at least one program intended to target this age group;
  • 16 institutions (35%) rank serving young adults among their principal missions; most offer membership discounts.

Programming for the GLBT Population

GLBT not a high priority for most of the community:

  • Just 6 of 46 organizations (13%) have ever offered specific GLBT programs;
  • 2 institutions (Bet Haverim and JF&CS’s Rainbow Center) regard serving the GLBT community as their primary goal; 2 others offer ongoing programs.

Programming for Older Adults

Older adults are seen as a growing demographic:

  • 14 of 46 institutions (30%) report reaching out particularly to older adults, but only 6 of them described programs aimed at attracting older adults;
  • 20 institutions (43%) offer membership discounts.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

institutional welcoming gatekeepers
Institutional Welcoming:Gatekeepers

Whether finding their way in through outreach efforts or on their own initiative, first contact between Jewish institutions and unaffiliated newcomers can be make-or-break moments for future engagement.

Easiest ways for newcomers to initiate contact is by phone or email.

Who answers your phones?

  • How are they trained to handle sensitive questions, such as from intermarried couples?
  • Do they understand the importance of collecting names? Follow-up?
  • How well versed are they in your organizations programmatic offerings? How about other programs in the community?
  • 28 of 46 organizations (61%) indicated that new outreach contacts are distinguished from regular members in some way, such as entered into separate databases.

Who answers your email?

  • How quickly do they respond? (24-hour rule)
  • Do they understand the importance of collecting names? Follow-up?
  • 24 of 44 institutions (55%) replied to JOI’s anonymous emails and only 13 (30%) asked for contact information in order to deepen contact.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

institutional welcoming websites
Institutional Welcoming:Websites

Most institutions see their websites as a major portal of entry for newcomers; one-third of those scanned cited their websites as their most important form of publicity.

Of 54 Atlanta Jewish organizations selected for the website scan, 43 (79%) had operational websites.

Of the 43 institutions with websites:

  • 33 (76%) had easily located contact information;
  • 30 (69%) included the names of specific contact people;
  • 31 (72%) updated their websites in some way, often with a monthly calendar.

Example of an Effective Website:

Kosher Chameleon, which hosts parties for Jewish young adults, uses its website as a vehicle for follow-up by posting photos of their events together with ads for upcoming events and emailing the website link to those names they’ve collected.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

institutional welcoming policies
Institutional Welcoming:Policies

When an institution’s policies prevent it from serving particular newcomers, it can still help to find them a welcoming place within the Jewish community by partnering with other institutions or making referrals.


  • Of 29 organizations scanned that offer officiation services, the clergy at 8 will officiate at interfaith weddings, usually with conditions;
  • Of the 38 institutions scanned that do not offer interfaith officiation, 9 (24%) refer interfaith couples to a rabbi at another institution (with 7 able to mention a particular rabbi).


  • 22 of 46 institutions scanned (48%) report no official policy, leaving the picture unclear; the rest, except for two, affirmed that a GLBT couple would receive equal treatment;
  • 8 institutions would offer commitment ceremonies but most have never had the opportunity arise.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

institutional welcoming costs
Institutional Welcoming:Costs

Some Jews simply cannot afford the high cost of affiliation; others don’t make a financial “investment” in the community because they don’t yet have an emotional investment in it. The community must first invest in them, without expecting immediate returns.

High Holidays

  • 26 of 46 organizations scanned offer High Holiday services to nonmembers; only 11 advertise them in the secular media;
  • 8 congregations offer free High Holiday services, but only 4 advertise them.


  • 39 of 46 organizations scanned (85%) offer at least one program free-of-charge; 25 (54%) also offer programs for $10 or less.


  • 32 of 46 institutions scanned (70%) are membership organizations;
  • More than half charge over $1,000 as a base standard household membership;
  • 31 institutions (67%) offer discounts, mostly based on age; however, in many cases this information is not advertised in the secular press.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005

recommended next steps
Recommended Next Steps

Atlanta is not behind other Jewish communities scanned, yet there are ways to grow the community:

  • Training of communal professionals and volunteers on key outreach methodologies such as name collection, personal follow-up, inclusive language, “gate-keeping,” etc.;
  • Technical assistant to individual institutions to build outreach best practices into existing programs and create new programming;
  • Increased program collaboration among Jewish institutions and with secular partners;
  • Community-wide outreach committee leading to the creation of a community outreach coordinator.

Jewish Outreach Scan of Atlanta • December 2005