You already know how to host a beautiful, profound, and Jewishly meaningful seder. What you may not yet know, though, is how to re-imagine your usual traditions to incorporate digital content that will enliven this year’s virtual rendition of your seder.
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Rabbi Philip Bazeley (he/his) has implemented an innovative fundraising model for his congregation at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, New Jersey. So far, he has raised $10,800 for RAC New Jersey, which is compelling early proof of the sustainability of his approach. He shared his thoughts and strategies for fundraising to empower other communities in formulating their own strategies.
Even when our congregations consist of members with a broad range of political perspectives, there tends to be a preponderance of attitudes in a particular direction. This often leads to those in the minority feeling alienated from synagogue life. While this might happen in either direction, in my congregation, as in most URJ congregations, the members tend to be more politically liberal, in correlation with a more progressive religious viewpoint. This correlation is not perfect, however, and a minority of members are politically conservative.
A few years ago, when my son was still pretty young, we were heading out to participate in Friday night services for families with young children. When he asked where we were heading, I said, "We're going to Temple Micah." We weren't going to the building on Wisconsin Avenue that is Temple Micah, we were heading to a local coffee shop and bookstore where services were being held. But to me, that was Temple Micah. The people we would see, the feeling we would get by being together - all of that was Temple Micah - not the temple building itself.
According to conventional wisdom, congregations will look different in 10-15 years. If this is the case, we need leadership that can come together to actively create our future. Otherwise, we will be reacting passively to forces and trends, and are less likely to be successful.
I write about International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3, 2021) as a quadriplegic wheelchair user and as a Jewish woman accustomed to advocating for physical inclusion in places of worship. I am all too familiar with common barriers to access and have offered potential solutions.
My rabbi has explained that, after the Jewish month of Tishrei—which includes Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Sh’mini Atzeret-Simchat Torah—we have the month of Cheshvan, with no holiday other than Shabbat. Rabbi Block and I find great wisdom in this reality: We need a time of rest, symbolized by Shabbat, this Cheshvan, which significantly overlaps with October.
The High Holiday season is an important time of personal and communal reflection, including your congregation’s leadership. This can also be a time of reflection for your congregation’s leadership.
After several synagogue shootings, American Jews are grappling with the need to keep our communities safe and to remain open and welcoming to seekers of all backgrounds.