We are always excited when people write to us with stories of how JOI’s programming helps them with successful Jewish outreach. This one comes to us from Congregation Beth El in South Orange, New Jersey:
When we wanted to use a congregational Wine Tasting event as an opportunity for genuine Jewish Outreach, our Synaplex Committee, a community building initiative coordinated by former JOI Rabbinic Intern Josh Rabin, decided to take the event outside of the synagogue. While our annual Synaplex Shabbat on Food and Wine succeeded in attracting a large number of congregants to their Friday night and Shabbat morning programming, the Synaplex Committee also wanted to attract people who were not already engaging in the many innovative programs at the synagogue.
The Synaplex Committee decided to hold the wine tasting event at the South Orange Performing Arts Center so that inactive congregants and the unaffiliated might feel more welcome within the Jewish community. The committee engaged in active external publicity, such as putting posters in secular locations and mailing out postcard invitations, and presented the event as an opportunity for a broad spectrum of people to engage with their community. This past Saturday night, the attendance at the wine tasting doubled from the previous year, with 120 people attending this exciting event. The event attracted a wide array of people; affiliated and unaffiliated, previous participants and newcomers. By using the principles of Public Space Judaism, we succeeded in making new participants feel welcome and comfortable in our congregation, hopefully helping others begin a more long-term relationship that will strengthen Jewish life and enrich our community.
Congratulations on your successful program! We couldn’t be more thrilled. If anyone else has a story they would like to share, don’t hesitate to write us. We look forward to hearing from you.