I just received this press release from Congregation Beth Elohim. It filled me with such warmth and pride for this community's leadership that I just had to share. Congregation Beth Elohim recently won $250,000 in a social media driven online voting competition to help restore their historic building.
Upon Winning a Quarter Million Dollars in Online Competition, Brooklyn Synagogue makes $15k donation to neighboring Church
Partnership between synagogue and church lead to unprecedented gift; Two communities facing the burden of repairing collapsed ceilings find meaning in supporting each other; Community members respond with emotion and joy.
Brooklyn, NY – May 22, 2012 ---
On the heels of winning one of only four Amex Partners in Preservation grants of $250,000 in New York City, Senior Rabbi Andy Bachman of Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim announced today that Trustees of the Congregation have pledged $15,000 to Old First Reformed Church, their beloved neighbors and partners in building friendship and community in Park Slope.
The CBE gift to Old First is in recognition of its generous and continuing support for Congregation Beth Elohim over the years. Among many other gestures, Old First made its worship space available for several High Holiday services when CBEs Sanctuary ceiling collapsed. Old First also actively supported CBEs successful campaign to win the Amex Partners in Preservation grant. In an ironic twist, Old Firsts own ceiling collapsed earlier this year. Accordingly, CBEs gift to Old First will support their efforts to complete the necessary architectural studies for the preservation work its sanctuary demands.
In his announcement of this gift, Rabbi Bachman noted, “Each of our historic and sacred communities inhabit buildings made for a different era of religious life; and yet each of our communities understand the historical mandate to renew our relationships with our God and our community in every generation. As Simon the Righteous taught us in the Talmud, the world stands on three things: on Learning, on Worship, and on acts of Loving Kindness. May Congregation Beth Elohim and Old First Church thrive in these values and continue to bring goodness, kindness and peace to our world.”
Upon hearing the news, Reverend Dr. Daniel Meeter of Old First remarked that he was shocked, “Who does this kind of thing? So this is what love looks like, this hospitality, this generosity, this joining our lives together for better for worse."
How can we each be generous in our own ways today?
This is cross-posted from Miriam Brosseau's "Clips and Phrases" Tumbler.
Here’s the current state of a conversation about social media and Jewish values happening on my Facebook profile. What would you add?
Ok, everybody - favorite Jewish values and/or texts that could potentially relate to social media. And…go!
(Whaddya think, Anita Salzman Silvert, David Paskin, Rabbi Jason Miller, Elizabeth Wood, Carrie Bornstein, Arnie Samlan? Others?)
Elizabeth Wood Al Tifrosh min hatzibur - Do not separate yourself from the community (i.e. figure out always how to keep yourself connected!)
Irene Lehrer Sandalow Al Tifrosh Min Hatsibur. Social Media makes sure stay you connected to your community.
Miriam Brosseau Whoah, Elizabeth and Irene, you are totally on the same wavelength… and it’s a great call, thanks!
Isaac Shalev Emor me’at ve’aseh harbeh - say little and do lots - should be Twitter’s mission statement
Sara Shapiro-Plevan I’d say that “im ein ani li, mi li” and the rest of that mishna speaks beautifully to the fact that we are nodes in a larger network and not just in relationship with ourselves. Also, Pirke Avot ch. 6 talks about drawing close to colleagues and students, not separating one’s self from community, knowing and contributing to the knowledge of others, and sharpening others’ knowledge as well.
Carrie Bornstein Sara - you JUST beat me to it!
Carrie Bornstein If I am not for myself, who will be for me? (Have a voice in the online world - make your presence known.) If I am only for myself, what am I? (Engage your community - advocate on behalf of others) If not now, when? (Just do it – act in the moment.)
Anita Salzman Silvert I would add the whole Lashon Ha-rah issue. Just using some of the text in a little presentation on the jewish values found in “The Music Man” …think pick a little talk a little…!
Carrie Bornstein Eizeh hu chacham? HaLomed miKol Adam. Who is wise? The one who learns from all others.
Naomi Malka Da Lifnei Mi Ata Omed—be mindful of your values wherever you go and whatever you say in cyberspace.
Yehudit Batya Shrager The essence of tsniut is being independent of the good opinion of other people. (For the DL on tsniut read “Outside/Inside” by Gila Manolson.) In other words, know what to share and what to keep to yourself and do not define yourself based on how many “friends/followers” you have or how many people “like,” your status updates.
Phil Liff-Grieff malbin panav- it is important to remember that one’s words have serious ripples (sort of a riff on the lashon ha-ra thread….)
Arnie Samlan What about the whole concept of a minyan? That there is a tipping point at which enough human-social energy gathers.
Lisa Narodick Colton Wow, this is great. I’ll add tzimtzum — needing to contract oneself to make room for others to create. good for community guidelines — don’t be a conversation hog.
Larry Brown Excellent topic, Miriam! I believe Pirkei Avot says to find a Rabbi/Teacher and sit at his feet and study. The whole concept of the Oral Torah is that one cannot truly understand Torah simply by reading text, one must learn from others. That is why our ancestors were so reluctant to write it down. Interactive social media can be seen as another way of learning from others.
Paul Wieder Pirsumei Nisah— from Chanukah. Want everyone to know about a miracle? Put it in the window!
“Who is wise? The one who learns from all”- Pirkei Avot
Arba Kanfot— the idea that, while Jews are spread to the “four corners” of the world, we are united.
“A father who does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal.”— We are required to teach as well as learn, to pass on our knowledge.
Carrie Bornstein In case you haven’t seen it, this thread keeps reminding me of this: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node%2F90054
Stanley Mieses Kol Yisroel and Derech Eretz. There is no them….only us.
Geoffrey Mitelman I’d add that in our ever-more-interconnected world, g’milut chasadim and tikkun olam are becoming more and more synonymous.
Guest post from Rabbi Aaron Spiegel. This post is part of a series on networks and network weaving.
Synagogue 3000 just released a report entitled “Reform and Conservative Congregations: Different Strengths, Different Challenges.” The report could just as easily been entitled something like “Synagogues are Fading Into Obscurity,” but that would be a little too provocative. The data is clear; the institution best positioned to provide the full richness of Jewish life is becoming irrelevant for most American Jews. More disturbing is that our research shows some 70% of young Jewish adults, those between the ages of 23 and 39, have no connection to the established Jewish community (synagogues, Federation, JCC’s, etc.). While many in the Jewish world talk about Jewish continuity and protecting the future of American Judaism, most of the proposed solutions have had little effect. The good news is we’ve also learned that this majority of young Jews are very interested in Judaism, just not the way we’re offering it.
While most in the congregational world talk about outreach, Synagogue 3000 learned that this moniker has a negative connotation. Outreach says, albeit subtly, “I’m reaching out to you so you can come to me and have what I want to offer you.” The community, particularly those young, single Jews who are our potential future are saying, “no thanks.” Instead of outreach Synagogue 3000 changed the conversation to engagement. Learning from the church world and community organizing, Synagogue 3000 created Next Dor (dor is Hebrew for generation) – an engagement program. Participating synagogues agree to dedicate a staffer, most often a rabbi, whose primary job is to meet young Jews where they are – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. These engagement workers are charged with finding young Jews, be they in bars, coffee houses, local gyms, etc., and finding ways of engaging them in conversation to create relationships. Relationships create trust, which creates other relationships, which creates opportunity for real engaging conversations about life and what Judaism has to offer. One of the key points is that this engagement and these relationships are l’shma, for their own sake. Synagogue membership is not the goal – connecting Jews to Judaism is.
While the goal is engaging young Jews in Judaism, several of the Next Dor partner synagogues are discovering tangible benefits. Next Dor D.C., a project of Temple Micah was one of the first adopters. Rabbi Danny Zemel, a proponent of this engagement model before Next Dor existed, knew that Temple Micah needed to engage this unaffiliated and disaffected population. As a Next Dor pilot synagogue, Temple Micah hired Rabbi Esther Lederman as their engagement worker. A big part of Esther’s job is having one-on-one meetings with young Jews, usually in coffee shops. Now in its fourth year, Next Dor D.C. has gone from one-on-one meetings to regular Shabbat dinners at Esther’s home to annual free High Holy Day services for young adults, led by Esther and Michelle Citrin. The results – young Jewish adults are joining Temple Micah.
Some have dubbed this approach “relational Judaism” which seems something of an oxymoron. Judaism is at its essence (at least in my opinion) all about relationships. Unfortunately, congregations have focused on other things like supporting infrastructure, b’nai mitzvah training, and programming. More than the first two, the focus on programming is the irrelevance linchpin. Rather than engaging Jews in what’s important in their lives, synagogues program based on anecdotal information. When numbers fall the default synagogue response is to seek better programming rather than forming relationships with members, finding out what’s really important in their lives, and being responsive to their needs. Interestingly enough, while Synagogue 3000 envisioned the relational approach targeting young Jewish adults, the Next Dor communities are discovering it works with everyone.
Is your synagogue willing to form relationships with people who might not become members? Is your rabbi really willing to “be known” by synagogue members? What are your biggest obstacles to moving from a program-based community to relationship-based? Relationships, it’s all about the relationships!
Rabbi Aaron Spiegel is the CEO of Synagogue 3000. The report was the result of Synagogue 3000’s participation in FACT (Faith Communities Today), the largest and most comprehensive surveyor of faith communities in the United States.
This post is part of a series on networks and network weaving that Darim Online is curating to advance the communal conversation about relationship focused Jewish communities. Thanks to UJA Federation of New York for supporting our research and this blog series. Click here to see other related posts in the series.
This is a video on how blogs build community created for the day school parents of Knoxville, TN, who are doing a training with The Jewish Ed Project’s Parent to Parent initiative. I was supposed to co-host a session with them, and had a last-minute conflict… :/ So, this is me "being there without being there." Hit me up with any questions!
Hi everyone, it's great to connect with you all, and I’m so sorry I can’t make it. I’m really looking forward to next time when we can have a deeper conversation about social media, and really dig in with strategies and fun tips and all kinds of goodies.
I love talking about blogging because it ties in so well with Jewish sensibilities about content and conversation. The Talmud was, arguably, the first blog - a conversation that takes place across time and space, bringing in many voices, contradictory opinions, and preserving it all. Even the format speaks to this. If you’ve ever looked at a page of Talmud (and not gotten completely intimidated, as I usually do), the main content is at the center, the comments in chronological order reverberating out from there. Folks comment on the main idea, then comment on the comments, then comment on the comments’ comments… Ah, Judaism, the ultimate obsessive-compulsive book club.
While blogging was hot news online about ten years ago, it’s still, i believe, at the heart of the internet. Blogs are where the stories live and breathe and grow. Think of it this way. If the Internet is a city, then Facebook is a college campus, LinkedIn is a convention center, Twitter is a series of cocktail parties in little, connected clubs, Pinterest is a shopping mall and an art gallery (in many ways), and so on and so forth, but blogs are often the homes. Blogs are where authentic stories come out. And people can visit your house, and engage in your story there, and that’s amazing and valuable. But more and more, as social media has evolved, it’s when those stories are brought into all those other places - the shopping mall, the convention center, etc. - that they become part of the bigger conversation. Sharing the story in your home, but then opening it up to this larger audience help create a sense of fluidity, of comfort, of community. Stories get set free when they’re shared in these larger spaces and the conversation around them gets hosted there. And the best part is, often, those stories don’t stay online; they influence the way people interact with one another in real life, then flow back into the online world.
So, blogs are a place for establishing a voice. For being your most authentic self, outside of proprietary social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But if you want people to join you in your home, to share in your story, you have to go out into the world and introduce yourself. Share that story. Ask questions. Visit other people’s homes and listen to what they have to say. Take this metaphor with you as you think about writing your blog post. And most of all, have fun! Please send me any questions you might have over email (or via Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn…I’m all over the city), and I’ll see you next time!
As we come closer to the end of 2013, sites are releasing their obligatory "best of" lists. Here are a few of our favorites, for your inspiration...
First off, Tumblr's Year in Review is well worth checking out. Tumblr is a hip, funky, user-friendly and lightweight blogging platform that excels at imagery and attitude. Here's a bit about the "best of" list they're producing:
The retrospective starts Tuesday at http://YearinReview.tumblr.com with an exploration of 20 categories ranging from the most popular musical groups to the most interesting architecture of 2013. Boasting a plethora of images, the review will continue through December with daily posts that will culminate on New Year's Eve with the best fireworks displays featured on Tumblr during the year.
Our take-aways for the Jewish communal set?
- Scan the most-reblogged posts and people. What can you learn? What do these posts have in common? What kinds of images, what types of language, etc., really work?
- Are you using Tumblr? It's a great place to connect with teens. Tumblr is also flexible enough to be used to produce a full website, or can easily pop up for the sake of a single event, conference, or trip.
- Are there ways for you to capitalize on what Tumblr thinks is hip? What kind of connections can you make between "trending topics" and your work to help get the word out about your organization or cause?
And up next: we normally wouldn't re-post something from Buzzfeed, the site we all waste time on and love to hate/hate to love, but this one seemed especially apropos: the 21 Most Creative Instagram Accounts of 2013. Honestly, this post is not really about the photo-sharing service Instagram, or even about photos, but about the role of surprise and delight. Take a look at these accounts, what do they have in common? To us, they both surprise and delight their viewers. How can our social spaces do the same for our communities?
...and we'll close with some good ol' nonprofit video. Enjoy the winners of the 2013 DoGooder Awards!
What have been your web favorites lately? Share in the comments, or send them to Miriam directly, and they could be featured here next time!
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