We have done five community “outreach scans” in the last twelve months, the latest of which was in Morris County, New Jersey. Last week, we presented community leaders there with the results of the outreach scan, as reported in the New Jersey Jewish News. If a demographer goes into a community in order to determine its population trends, JOI goes into a community in order to determine whether existing institutions have the capacity to respond to those trends.
Over the past couple of years we have looked extensively at over 500 institutions through our scanning process. All the outreach scans during the last twelve months were completed at the behest of local Jewish federations, except for the most recent in Morris County. In this particular case, we were invited to take a look at the community at the request of the Jewish Community Center of Metrowest and its assistant executive director Barak Hermann. Among the Jewish institutions in the Morris County area, the JCC is the only non-synagogue institution in the community. This is particularly important to note, especially given the fact that few families on the periphery currently affiliate with synagogues.
As we reported to Morris County leadership, to be most effective, outreach needs to be implemented holistically, fused with the very core of an institution. It needs to be prioritized when holding programs, drafting marketing, and strategizing recruitment, engagement and follow-up. Over the next nine months, our work will continue with the Morris County Jewish community as well as with individual institutions—and particularly with the JCC—through their lay and professional leaders, in order to help them become more welcoming to newcomers and those on the periphery, particularly the growing segment of interfaith families and their children.