According to the Pew Research Center’s recent survey on Jewish identity in the United States, 54 percent of American Jews by religion seldom attend synagogue services while 22 percent report to have never attended. Even among American Orthodox Jews, approximately 26 percent have reported seldom or never to have attended synagogue services. With these alarming statistics in mind, the Orthodox Union’s Karasick Department of Synagogue Services will be hosting its Sixth Annual Executive Directors Conference on Sunday, January 5 through Tuesday, January 7 in Los Angeles to discuss the three conference themes of how to Engage, Communicate and Implement strategies for strengthening synagogues.
“This is the first time the conference is being held on the West Coast,” said Rabbi Judah Isaacs, director of OU Department of Community Engagement, which is arranging the conference. “We strive to help synagogues engage and communicate with members in a meaningful way, which also include financial transparency, good security and strategies for dealing with crisis. In the upcoming conference, we will also be discussing using new technologies in synagogues, as well as how executive directors can implement plans into action.
“The overarching theme is to learn from congregations and experts how to professionalize and enhance the synagogue experience so that it can serve its members in the most effective manner possible,” Rabbi Isaacs explained.
Yehuda Friedman, associate director of the OU Karasick Department of Synagogue Services and the conference coordinator, said, “Synagogues are now operating with significant budgets and the executive director ensures that their facilities are running efficiently. The goal of the conference is to provide professional development tools to strengthen practices in communications, financial management, security development and membership engagement.”
Topics to be discussed in addition to The Sobering Realities of the Pew Study include:
• Synagogue Design: A Key Element to Creating a Welcoming Environment
• Improving the Financial Health of Your Synagogue
• Synagogue Security: Establishing Partnerships and Maintaining Dialogue with Local Law Enforcement,
• 17 New Technologies That Will Change The Way You Work
• Crisis Communication: “When It Hits The Fan”
• The Troubles and Travails in Building a Mikvah
• Believe, Build, Grow: From Membership to Partnership: How to Change a Synagogue’s Culture
• Managing Vendor Relationships
• Winning People Over to Your Plan
• How to Implement Your Plan: Creating Actionable Items
• The Monday Morning Quarterback: A Seminar and Case Study in How to Evaluate a Program
The presenters include executive directors, rabbis, financial experts, law enforcement and security experts, attorneys, a chief operating officer, and a sales director.
Executive directors from more than 30 synagogues in eleven states and the District of Columbia in the United States, as well as four provinces in Canada, will be in attendance. Communities to be represented include:
• California: Beverly Hills, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego
• Canada: Edmonton, Montreal, Richmond, Thornhill, Toronto
• District of Columbia: Washington, DC
• Florida: Boca Raton, Jacksonville, Hollywood
• Georgia: Atlanta
• Louisiana: Metairie (New Orleans)
• Massachusetts: Malden
• Maryland: Baltimore
• New Jersey: Teaneck
• New York: Bronx, Five Towns, Manhattan
• Nebraska: Omaha
• Nevada: Las Vegas
• Texas: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio
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