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PEARL: Providing Education and Resources for Leadership. The Dynamics of Growth: Outreach/ Inreach , Marketing, Branding and the Covenant of Membership I. Jewish Reconstructionist Federation Transformative Judaism for the 21st Century 101 Greenwood Avenue Beit Devora, Suite 430
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Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Transformative Judaism for the 21st Century
101 Greenwood Avenue
Beit Devora, Suite 430
Jenkintown, PA 19046
215.885.5601 / fax: 215.885.5603
Rabbi Shawn Zevit and Halle Barnett
May 4, 2011-12:00 p.m.-1:15 p.m.
"Being a Reconstructionist Congregation or Havurah means taking the building of sacred community to heart. Our purpose is to reach in and reach out - that is, to extend ourselves inwardly to our existing community, and also to reach out to the unaffiliated and the searching and offer them ways into our community. It means conscious efforts to grow, strengthen, and deepen the love for our community, the Jewish people and the world at large." - Adapted by Rabbi Shawn Zevit from the Inreach/Outreach committee of Reconstructionist Congregation Beth Emeth, New York
One who settles in a community for thirty days becomes obligated to contribute to the charity fund together with the other members of the community. One who settles there for three months becomes obligated to contribute to the soup kitchen. One who settles there for six months becomes obligated to contribute clothing with which the poor of the community can cover themselves. One who settles there for nine months becomes obligated to contribute to the burial fund for burying the community’s poor and providing for all of their needs of burial.
Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey after you left Mitzrayim. How he surprised you on the march, and cut down all the weak ones who were behind. When you were famished and weary and were not God fearing. Therefore, when Adonai your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you; in the land that your God is giving you as a hereditary portion. You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under the Heaven. Do not forget! –Deuteronomy 25:17-19
Had the children of Israel not forgotten about the slower ones in back but instead, brought them closer under the protecting wings of God’s Presence, binding the slower to all of Israel, the Amalekites would not have succeeded in their attack. But because you allowed the slower ones to be aharekha (meaning both “behind you” and “other”), that you separated them off from you and made them “other”, and you forgot about your brothers and sisters, Amalek could viciously attack them. Therefore, the Torah tells us to remember Amalek, so that we never forget to bring our brothers and sisters who need special attention into our midst.
“What does it mean to join Am Haskalah? Member of what? As I see it, we are both a community and a congregation. A community is a network of relationships. You join it by taking part. The more you take part, the more you will build those relationships, the more connected you will feel, and the more our community will grow.“While the community is an informal network, the congregation is a formal organization. We have bylaws, officers, committees, employees, income and expenses. To be a member you have to fill out a form and pay your dues. The congregation provides the platform, the structure, in today's parlance, the hardware. The community is the software, the spirit and the real soul. I believe that if you are going to be a member of this community, you have a responsibility at some point to joining the congregation. And if you are a member of the congregation, please be a part of this community.”
Community building and membership growth is not exactly akin to marketing a product and increasing sales. Genuine, dynamic changes can lead to positive growth and increased participation and commitment. AND (not “but”), there is a third “pillar” on which congregational growth stands.
In addition to internal (sometimes administrative) practices and external marketing efforts, there is the all-important aspect of relationship. Ultimately, it is not about the specific programming or the executive functioning of the office or the pizzazz of the public relations, as vital as they are. These are secondary and instrumental to the primary purpose of fostering caring relationshipsthat address people in their wholeness and support them in their growth as Jews and human beings. Rather than a “cafeteria” to which we invite folks to “buy” a particular product or service, it is a community to which we invite them.
Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, of JRF affiliate Kehillat Israel , Pacific Palisades, CA, has a motto on his wall that says, “Caring for people is our only business.”
More than any other “enterprise,” synagogue communities rise and fall on the strengths and weaknesses of personal relationships. He writes, “The number one reason why most people end their membership in synagogue life is they simply don’t feel connected, or believe that anyone would really care very much if they left.” The same is true for joining; people want to be connected and cared about. Our communities ought to be models of such behavior.
Making contribution to evolution of Jewish spiritual,
religious peoplehood and the global community
“The whole premise of our group is the vast human potential… holiness is our key and our primary value; honors and comparisons serve no useful purpose. It is vitally important that we do not create, God forbid, any boundaries that separate us from Jews who are not members of our group. The whole point of our association is to love each other as much as possible. The techniques available to a group are qualitatively different than what an individual can hope to attain. It is important for us to be explicit and clear that our society accepts into its ranks only those individuals who share these concerns. If people know in their hearts that they are not similarly burdened with these concerns, we ask that they do not join our group. They will harm themselves and others. Their presence will serve as a distraction to the rest of the group, whose hearts and minds are sincerely focused on this work.”
Rabbi KalonymusKalmanShapira, Conscious Community, Warsaw Ghetto, 1940’s
Stages of Membership: http://22.214.171.124/cong/res-kb-stages.html
What does your community mean to you?
Who is it that best understands your community-specific attractors and is / are best suited to do the “attracting?”
Yes, its your engaged, excited members!
JRF Resources Library
Creating a Welcoming Community
Previous PEARL sessions on Growth and Marketing:
Other Great Resources!