I just returned from Atlanta, Georgia for our second in a series of training sessions for synagogues involved in Call Synagogue Home, a partnership project between JOI and STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal). This project is designed to help synagogues reach out to interfaith families and nurturing their relationship with them—all through life cycle events. In Atlanta, we are also partnering with Pathways, a newly-funded initiative of the Jewish community housed at the Marcus Jewish Community Center. We are thrilled that these seven synagogues are currently involved in the Atlanta project: Ahavath Achim; Beth Tikvah; Emanu-el; Kehillat Chaim; Or Hadash; Temple Sinai; and The Temple (Hebrew Benevolent Congregation).
While we stressed numerous issues regarding the more traditional life cycle events, we also explored several non-traditional lifecycle events and how to develop them. Our lives are filled with various moments of life transitions. Some we mark formally; we take others for granted. For example, all parents are concerned when their children receive their driver’s license and drive solo for the first time. Imagine the response if a synagogue were to offer a blessing for well-being for the child on the day of his/her first solo excursion. This is not something that those on the periphery would normally seek from the synagogue. Nor is it a lifecycle moment that is encumbered by various aspects of Jewish law. As a result, the synagogue has both a challenge and an opportunity to reach out and initiate a relationship with this elusive teenage population and their parents. By casting a wide net, synagogues will unobtrusively reach interfaith families in this way too.
Is your synagogue ready to give it a try?