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East Brunswick Jewish Center. A survey for our future. Presentation to the Congregation. Long Range Planning Committee. Steven Schonfeld, Chair Gene Brody Rhoda Cohen Barbara Pollack Eric Rabinowitz Bruce Sommers Howard Sorkin. Who answered the survey.

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East brunswick jewish center

East Brunswick Jewish Center

A survey for our future

Presentation to the Congregation


Long range planning committee
Long Range Planning Committee

Steven Schonfeld, Chair

Gene Brody

Rhoda Cohen

Barbara Pollack

Eric Rabinowitz

Bruce Sommers

Howard Sorkin


Who answered the survey
Who answered the survey

  • Almost 500 Responders, 299 Families

    • Just Short of 50% Family Response Rate

  • #Male = #Female

  • 80% are over age 45

  • 59% are between 45 and 64

  • 56% have been members over 17 years

  • 65% attend services at least once a month

  • 33% attend services at least once a week

  • 13% have not participated in EBJC activities

  • 35% attend more than 5 activities per year




Potential analysis by key subgroups
Potential Analysis by Key Subgroups

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Attendance at Services

  • Years of Membership


Remember
Remember

  • The survey is not a vote, one of many tools to help us discover who we are and how we can plan for our future

  • Diversity of opinion doesn’t mean we can’t all have a common goal

  • Any change will be a process that will take time, thought and education

  • We will need to educate ourselves with rabbinic guidance as to the choices available to us within a Conservative halachic framework

  • We need to develop a mission statement to define who we are and what we want to be


Rabbi top qualities
Rabbi Top Qualities

  • Consensus across all subgroups

  • Overwhelmingly – People Skills

    • Compassionate

    • Good Speaker

    • Enthusiastic/Energetic/Vibrant

    • Inspirational

  • Lesser support for promoting spirituality and fostering increased participation

  • Little support for scholar or managerial skills

    • although that’s not to say these aren’t important skills for the Rabbi to have – scholar is basically a given based on consensus groups and comments



East brunswick jewish center

  • “It would be nice to have all of these qualities!. But first and foremost, a mensch…”

  • “I think if he has the three checked items....the others follow. Strong managerial skills actually means the person must have people skills, be articulate and well-written and a good listener, and have a good understanding of his subject matter (a scholar) and have a creative streak. Really good managers have all these qualities”


Top rabbi duties
Top Rabbi Duties first and foremost, a mensch…”

  • Same top 5 across all subgroups

    • Preaching

    • Pastoral Work

    • Counseling Congregants

    • Teaching Youth

    • Teaching Adults

  • Minor support for Jewish community work and scholarship

  • Administration and fundraising were lowest but again are important in running a temple and certainly excellent skills to have


New rabbi top duties all responses
New Rabbi Top Duties -- All Responses first and foremost, a mensch…”


What do members want to see in a service
What do members want to see in a service? first and foremost, a mensch…”

  • 90% want traditional prayers in Hebrew

  • 61% want the service to be predominantly Hebrew

  • 38% would like to have more English readings whereas 40% don’t

  • 79% would like the Rabbi to provide explanations during the service

  • 69% would like the sermon to deal with religious content and a similar percentage the weekly Torah portion

  • 35% would like informal discussions, 42% would not

  • 61% would like to see the service shortened, 19% felt that was not important


An ideal service
An ideal service? first and foremost, a mensch…”

  • A shorter service

  • Predominantly in Hebrew, with all traditional prayers in Hebrew but with an increase in English readings

  • The Rabbi provides explanations during the service

  • A sermon dealing with religious content that touches on the parasha

  • Occasional informal discussions as part of the sermon


Other service preferences
Other Service Preferences first and foremost, a mensch…”

  • Keep traditional melodies for traditional prayers

  • Musical instruments – not a priority

    • However 25% of responders would like it

  • Family-oriented services available

  • Separate teen services



Keep in mind as we evaluate the survey
Keep in mind as we evaluate the survey includes musical instruments?

  • “I feel an overwhelming sense that things will be changing. Please be sensitive to the fact that change is not always easy to handle and that it must come in a gentle way. Not everyone is prepared to wear the sunglasses. Keep in mind the initial enthusiasm will not last forever and the plan has to be for the long term.”


East brunswick jewish center

  • The spirituality and participation in services has to do with the openness and warmth from the Bimah. Recently I've felt that the congregants are interacting more and wanting to be more connected with each other.Happiness is contagious - everyone on the Bimah should be happy to be there - the smiles show.When everyone participates and there is singing the prayers together it creates a moving atmosphere.


What s really important
What’s really important with the openness and warmth from the Bimah. Recently I've felt that the congregants are interacting more and wanting to be more connected with each other.

“I want to come back from Israel to find that EBJC is a more welcoming place on all fronts--where new members want to join and veteran members want to remain, those who are less religious will be drawn in and those who are more religious will find it satisfying.”


East brunswick jewish center


Egalitarian versus traditional services
Egalitarian Versus Traditional Services to be an egalitarian service, a non-egalitarian service, or both at EBJC?

  • 50% feel egalitarian services should be available

    • 34% don’t

  • 44% would like to see both egalitarian and non-egalitarian services offered

    • 32% don’t

  • 59% feel non-egalitarian services should be available

    • 21% don’t

  • The remainder, between 17% and 25% would be happy under any scenario


What does that say
What does that say? to be an egalitarian service, a non-egalitarian service, or both at EBJC?

  • Half the respondents wants egalitarian services to be available

  • A minority wants only non-egalitarian or only egalitarian services available

  • Many respondents who prefer that egalitarian services be available or who say they would be happy with either also want non-egalitarian services available for those who have that preference

  • Up to 25% of congregants would be happy with either egalitarian or non-egalitarian services



Don t be afraid to change
Don’t be afraid to change available?

  • “Decision makers need to take the lead and understand that any decision that is made to alter anything at the shul is going to cause some people to be unhappy, but that is to be expected and it should not deter the leadership from making decisions to make changes that will encourage various members of the community to come to EBJC because of its INCLUSIVENESS.”


Don t be afraid to change1
Don’t be afraid to change available?

  • “...We must attract the young Jewish families moving into the area. Although there are not as many as in the past-- those coming should be encouraged to join OUR synagogue. We NEED to attract the youth of the area or our synagogue will diminish in membership In addition-- we cannot portray ourselves as the OLD EBJC. It's time to move forward - into the Conservative egalitarianism of the millennium.”


East brunswick jewish center


East brunswick jewish center

  • “I would attend religious services more regularly if more upbeat, uplifting music was included in the service with audience participation. A cantor is very important to me who has a participatory cantorial style teaches songs to the congregation, as opposed to performing solos. I would also attend services more regularly if the service was egalitarian or if an egalitarian option was offered. Having a current conservative Siddur and Conservative Chumash would also be very important..”


East brunswick jewish center


A few threaten on both the egalitarian and non egalitarian sides
A few threaten on both the egalitarian and non-egalitarian sides

  • “If egalitarian services (including Saturday morning Bat Mitzvahs for girls and all of the other items in question #6 below) do not become available, our family will withdraw from the membership and join an egalitarian congregation. Join the modern era or lose members!”

  • “No - keep it the way it used to be. I will leave EBJC if you allow women to do these”



No changes necessary
No changes necessary available?

  • “My personal feelings are that we remain as closely as possible to what we have been for the 30 some odd years that I have been a member. Any thing else would give me second thoughts.”


No changes necessary1
No changes necessary available?

  • “I don't think we should get away from tradition. If I wanted that I could go reform. Spirituality and warmth in our temple is what will attract and retain congregants.”


Many who favor egalitarian services are mindful of those who don t
Many who favor egalitarian services are mindful of those who don’t

  • “I would love for the synagogue to become totally egalitarian, however I feel that we have to be inclusive. Although we can not be all things to all people, I would hope that everyone will be comfortable worshipping at EBJC.”


How important is it to have both egalitarian and non egalitarian services available
How important is it to have both egalitarian and non-egalitarian services available?


What does that say1
What does that say? non-egalitarian services available?

  • Many responders who favor egalitarian services would want both services available

  • Many who favor traditional services would want both services available but less so

  • Some who want egalitarian don’t want two services

  • Some who want traditional don’t want two services


Be inclusive
Be inclusive non-egalitarian services available?

  • “Spirituality is very important to me. I would like to come to services and feel both spiritual and inspired after leaving. I really like the traditional aspects of Judaism, but egalitarianism is very important also. I think two services would give members the chance to choose what they like....”


Be inclusive1
Be inclusive non-egalitarian services available?

  • “With limited number of potential members moving into the East Brunswick area we should offer a variety of religious services (i.e., both egalitarian and non egalitarian services) to attract the widest range of members. Increasing non religious programs will also attract members from outside the East Brunswick area”


Be inclusive2
Be inclusive non-egalitarian services available?

  • “There is more than one way to be a Jew, as noted by the Conservative Movement in Israel. I would like to see multiple services for the varied needs and interests of EBJC membership. We are large enough to support them.”


Be inclusive3
Be inclusive non-egalitarian services available?

  • “I am very comfortable with Conservative Judaism, both the traditional form practiced at EBJC and egalitarian. I would like an egalitarian option in order to support the Schechter school on the same campus. We could immediately double our Torah and Megillah readers if we offered an egalitarian options.”


How do subgroups feel about egalitarianism
How do subgroups feel about egalitarianism? non-egalitarian services available?

  • Attend Very Often

    • Weekly/Daily Attendance

  • Attend Often

    • Monthly/At least twice a month attendance

  • Attend Occasionally

    • Holiday/Special occasions and High Holiday only


East brunswick jewish center

Importance of Having Egalitarian non-egalitarian services available?

or Non-Egalitarian Service by Attendance

Score: Very Unimportant to Very Important


What does that mean
What does that mean? non-egalitarian services available?

  • 1. Generally the more often you come to shul the more you want to maintain the status quo and not offer an alternative

  • 2. Those who come least often would like the shul to be egalitarian but some want the traditional option available for those who prefer it

  • 3. Those who come regularly (often, but not very often) feel similarly to those in 2 but favor both options to a greater degree


Some feel that we should cater to those who come very often
Some feel that we should cater to those who come very often non-egalitarian services available?

  • “Do not change the orientation of the shul. It is what makes the EBJC unique. All the other shuls in the area already have egalitarian services. Our shul gets over 150 people on Shabbat. Can the other shuls make the same claim? Probably not--we would lose more people than we would gain.”


East brunswick jewish center

  • “We appreciate EBJC's unique traditionalism; it is what drew us here in the first place. To go ‘egalitarian’ would: (a) take away a big part of what makes EBJC special and different from all other Conservative shuls; and (b) cater to a less-participatory segment of the congregation whose participation would not necessarily increase anyway, to the displeasure of those who do attend services and activities on a regular basis.”


East brunswick jewish center

  • The next slides ask: drew us here in the first place. To go ‘egalitarian’ would: (a) take away a big part of what makes EBJC special and different from all other Conservative shuls; and (b) cater to a less-participatory segment of the congregation whose participation would not necessarily increase anyway, to the displeasure of those who do attend services and activities on a regular basis.”

  • In a traditional service should women have an expanded role and what would that role be?

  • In an egalitarian service how extensive should a woman’s role be ?


What role should women have
What role should women have? drew us here in the first place. To go ‘egalitarian’ would: (a) take away a big part of what makes EBJC special and different from all other Conservative shuls; and (b) cater to a less-participatory segment of the congregation whose participation would not necessarily increase anyway, to the displeasure of those who do attend services and activities on a regular basis.”

  • Most would like to see an expanded role for women in either an “egalitarian” or a “traditional” service

  • When describing the characteristics of either a traditional or egalitarian service, a small group did not want any participation by women

  • Even among those very traditional more would allow women to read the Megillah


No changes necessary2
No changes necessary drew us here in the first place. To go ‘egalitarian’ would: (a) take away a big part of what makes EBJC special and different from all other Conservative shuls; and (b) cater to a less-participatory segment of the congregation whose participation would not necessarily increase anyway, to the displeasure of those who do attend services and activities on a regular basis.”

  • “I am totally against women participating in any services except if they want to have their own separate women only service as they have had shabbat mincha in the past.”


Move slowly and cautiously
Move slowly and cautiously drew us here in the first place. To go ‘egalitarian’ would: (a) take away a big part of what makes EBJC special and different from all other Conservative shuls; and (b) cater to a less-participatory segment of the congregation whose participation would not necessarily increase anyway, to the displeasure of those who do attend services and activities on a regular basis.”

  • “Be cognizant of the diversity that exists. Sometimes patience and ‘baby steps’ are the best way to bring about change.”


Move slowly and cautiously1
Move slowly and cautiously drew us here in the first place. To go ‘egalitarian’ would: (a) take away a big part of what makes EBJC special and different from all other Conservative shuls; and (b) cater to a less-participatory segment of the congregation whose participation would not necessarily increase anyway, to the displeasure of those who do attend services and activities on a regular basis.”

  • “I understand the resistance to aggressively egalitarian services, but I think women can be included to a greater extent than they are currently. Perhaps they can be slowly transitioned in so that it is not too shocking to those who are accustomed to tradition.”


East brunswick jewish center

  • “I am upset when I attend a weekday minyan where there are a few women and only 7, 8 or 9 men in attendance and I cannot say kaddish until they 10th man finally arrives. If a woman feels the obligation to attend a minyan, and is willing to assist in making the minyan, then I believe women should be counted. HOWEVER, there are many women who want to be counted but would not come to help make a minyan if called. That, I believe, is wrong. It cannot go both ways. Either it's a duty to be fulfilled or not.”


East brunswick jewish center

  • “Men, put yourself in a woman's shoes. You are saying kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”


Part ii
Part II kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”

  • What’s left to analyze and present?

    • Opinions about current services

    • Opinions on recruiting new members

    • Opinions on activities that should be offered

    • Things I like best about EBJC


All opinion of services responses overall satisfaction
All Opinion of Services Responses kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”Overall Satisfaction


New programs activities ebjc should offer all responses
New Programs/Activities EBJC Should Offer -- All Responses kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”


New classes groups ebjc should offer all responses
New Classes/Groups EBJC Should Offer -- All Responses kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”


East brunswick jewish center

What do you like best about EBJC? kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”


East brunswick jewish center

What do you like best about EBJC? kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”


East brunswick jewish center

What do you like best about EBJC? kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”


East brunswick jewish center

What do you like best about EBJC? kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”


East brunswick jewish center

What do you like best about EBJC? kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”


Remember again
Remember - Again kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”

  • The survey is not a vote, one of many tools to help us discover who we are and how we can plan for our future

  • Diversity of opinion doesn’t mean we can’t all have a common goal

  • Any change will be a process that will take time, thought and education

  • We will need to educate ourselves with rabbinic guidance as to the choices available to us within a Conservative halachic framework

  • We need to develop a mission statement to define who we are and what we want to be


The end
The End kaddish for your loved one and there are 9 men and you, a woman, waiting for a minyan. How sad and demeaning it is to be in a room where you are invisible, especially when you are grieving and trying to honor your family member.”


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