Last night I met with the leadership of the Jewish community in Morris County, NJ. This meeting served as a kick off for JOI’s Community Transformation Initiative in the area. Local leaders expressed excitement about the potential for bringing JOI’s signature programs and methods to Morris County’s Jewish community and its institutions. While we have already begun phase one of the initiative—the environmental outreach scan—we will soon begin working with individual institutions and the community as a whole to develop a systemic and systematic approach to outreach for the area.
Two things emerged from the discussion that are worth noting since we have been talking about them in various communities: the lure of the high holidays and how to use them as outreach vehicles; and sharing information with newcomers about other institutions that provide services when one’s home institution does not. It seems that while high holiday attendance is down, they still draw in large crowds—the largest all year long. High price tickets keep lots of additional people away and may send the wrong message (that Jewish life is too expensive for them). Perhaps free tickets advertised in the secular press? At the same time, once they are inside the synagogue, are we doing enough to make the services accessible and meaningful? As for sharing information, why not start simply? How about a hyperlink for a specific program of interest to a targeted constituency placed on the homepage of another institution?
It was exciting to discuss these preliminary questions and share best practices with a group of Jewish professionals and volunteer leaders who truly want to serve their community, all of their community, and we at JOI look forward to a fruitful partnership with the Morris County Jewish community.
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