Sunday, December 30, 2007

Creating a Strong Synagogue

Haveil Havalim 147 is up! Thanks for the links.

About a month ago, in the course of looking at different communities for my prospective move, I developed a basic set of generic goals for a shul/community. I suppose this might be of help for someone out there, so I'll post them here. Note that the goals are not listed in order of priority.

My original file included suggestions for implementing these goals; maybe I'll get around to posting that soon, too.

1. A Warm Shul
An inviting atmosphere in which regulars and guests feel not only welcome, but a part of the shul.
Multiple points of entry into the shul community
Social inclusiveness - a willingness to transcend demographic comfort zones
Low barriers to participation

2. A Stimulating Davening
A davening experience which is attractive, inspiring and user-friendly
Ritual organizers in touch with membership

3. A Focus on Education
Push-based education for all ages and levels, to both inspire and sate religious curiosity
Formal and informal education
A “Multiple intelligences” approach

4. Ideology and Activism
An action-focused environment in which ideology is only the first step
Ideological growth
Activities to put ideology into practice

5. Strong Rabbi-Congregant Relationships
Relationships of trust, respect, dependability and openness
Personal communication
Social opportunities
Open doors
Sensitive Halachic guidance

6. Strong Administration
A management team aiming to serve the needs of the community
Responsibly functioning board and committees
Administration in touch with membership
Strong Rabbi-Board communication

7. External Relationships
A shul which lives Kiddush HaShem in relating to the greater Jewish and secular community
Involvement in the greater community
Inviting in the greater community

Feel free to comment, compliment or criticize...


  1. Why can't a shul just be a place where you catch a minyan and maybe hear a shiur? Why does a shul have to be all this? It just drains everybody's income even more to have pay for all these programs and functionaries.
    That's why people start shtieblach. Who wants all this narishkeit?

  2. Anonymous 9:40 PM-
    It's a question of Tzibbur.
    In my estimation, a Tzibbur must have these things, whether it gets them in the shul or through other means.