Rosh Hashanah Under the Stars

There was a short but significant news item in the JTA today about a Rosh Hashanah service in the Baltimore area. They reported that “at least 5,000 people attended a free Rosh Hashanah Under the Stars service” this past weekend at Oregon Ridge Park, just north of the city. Hosted by the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, it was the third time the congregation held a public Rosh Hashanah service, and they are hoping to repeat the outcome of the last two years – namely getting families to join the congregation and become enterprising members of the community.

While we would not encourage BHC to immediately pitch membership since we believe affiliation comes from engagement, we are excited to see how the congregation is trying to maximize the impact of the High Holidays to create lasting and meaningful relationships.

This demonstrates once again that following a few tried and true inclusive strategies – such as lowering or eliminating cost and location barriers – can help us attract unaffiliated members of the community and give us a wonderful opportunity for engagement. But it doesn’t have to happen only around holidays. Hopefully the more we hear about people creating these opportunities for engagement, the more we’ll hear about communities experimenting with a variety of innovative outreach techniques that encourage all underserved populations to do more Jewish activities and become more involved in Jewish life.

1 Comment

  1. Our third RHUS (as we call it at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation) was a wonderful service and experience. Our congregation takes only a welcoming approach to membership regarding RHUS, very soft sell. We follow up with those who check up that they want us to follow up. We reach out gently for very limited reasons to those who attend. We know that is a long-term, ongoing project towards building relationships. Now in year three, we have seen not only growth in the service, but also some impact on membership as well. L’shanah Tovah

    Comment by Rabbi Andrew Busch — September 24, 2009 @ 9:21 am

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