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Inside Leadership
Closeup of a handshake between two men
Young teens gathered around the bimah as they look at an open Torah scroll
Closeup of a handshake between two men

Leaders at almost every synagogue would say their congregation strives to be a welcoming community. The challenge, of course, is how to put that into practice. Your congregation’s clergy, leadership, values, and policies set the tone for practicing audacious hospitality. Member-to-member relationships, however, will ultimately determine the welcoming culture of a community.

Ideally, welcoming guests is a sacred obligation that should be embraced by every member of the community. The reality is that, for any number of reasons, it takes real effort and intention to reach out to...

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Young teens gathered around the bimah as they look at an open Torah scroll

Is the glass half full or half empty? Often in Jewish youth engagement and education work we begin with a “scarcity mindset.” We ask ourselves, “Why aren’t participants coming to our programs?” or “Why do they drop out?” It’s an understandable mindset. After all, when you’re at an event where you’d expected to see double the number of participants, it’s easy to wonder, “Where is everyone?”

In our work with congregations, the URJ has begun to identify simple strategies for shifting our thinking to uncover the hidden successes of Jewish youth engagement and education.

Social...

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Welcome written on a wooden sign with flowers

Thanks to a grant we received from the Union for Reform Judaism to help offset advertising costs for A Taste of Judaism® at Temple Sinai in Reno, NV, we held the first of the course’s three sessions just after the High Holidays. My students and I sat in an open circle facing one another, and a feeling of awe-struck sacredness emerged as each person told us their name, background, and reason for joining the class. Their reasons were as diverse as they were.

Some were new...

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Group with their hands in the air as though celebrating at some sort of conference or convention

Every four years, Progressive Jews from around the world would pilgrimage to Jerusalem to learn with and from each other and to forge personal connections with the holy land. Though framed as a conference, the experiences at CONNECTIONS transcend the usual workshops and networking, as it truly serves as medium for fostering a sense of belonging among participants to both Israel and the Jewish people.

In 1973, the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), the global organization for which I serve as President, moved its headquarters from bustling Manhattan to historic Jerusalem....

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Two silhouetted men pushing giant puzzle pieces toward one another

Imagine the sight of dozens of face-painted children and the smell of barbeque. Imagine listening to their voices join in song for "Bim Bam Shabbat Shalom" and "Hinei Mah Tov." Soon, you hear squeals of delight from a bouncy castle and excited parents chatting about plans to bring their families back for similar outside fun at future Summer Shabbat Series events.

This engaging community experience actually happened as part of the Young Family Shabbat Carnival at Temple Sinai in Denver, CO. How did it come about? The parents...

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About Inside Leadership

Inside Leadership, the blog at URJ.org, is a source for Reform Jewish leaders to get the latest news and though-provoking articles about Jewish communal life.