Union of Reform JudaismThrough NCEJ, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has awarded 12 grants to congregations / consortia of congregations to market their “Introduction to Judaism” classes.  The congregations are located in areas where the URJ does not coordinate “Intro” classes.  The course is accessible, inclusive and meaningful — it encourages questions, fosters reflection, is interactive, values multiple perspectives, and builds community.

Five congregations will be/are offering the course for the first time.  Of the seven synagogues/clusters of congregations that had offered “Intro” in the past, some had not offered the course in many years or their courses were significantly briefer than 18 weeks.  The NCEJ-URJ marketing grants will further enable these synagogues to publicize their “Intro” classes and provide a deeper experience for participants.

The communities that received these marketing grant are diverse. One congregation has a large membership, a few are medium-sized, and many are small.  In fact, at least two congregations have fewer than 100 members each. The classes are being/will be held throughout the United States and one in Berlin, Germany. In two communities, coalitions of congregations have been forged to offer a collaborative consortium class.

“With deep gratitude to the National Center to Encourage Judaism, the URJ will be able to market “Introduction to Judaism” to a broader population. Through your partnership with us, this transformational program can impact even more people.  We thank the NCEJ for your part in this endeavor, as do the synagogues and consortia of congregations.” – URJ

Recent Feedback from Participants

Two couples who recently finished taking an Introduction to Judaism class, and whose partner from another faith tradition decided to convert, illustrate the impact of “Introduction to Judaism” classes, below:

“I cannot even begin to explain what an AMAZING experience this was for me and my fiancé. We loved this class so much and looked forward to Wednesday nights every week. From Day #1 the teachers were so nice, so welcoming, so down-to-earth cool, so knowledgeable, that we felt a strong connection to everyone. We are going to really miss this class but look forward to keeping in touch with everyone.”

“Wish we could keep meeting each week. Love these classes!

The course also profoundly impacts Jewish partners in interfaith relationships:

“The main reason I took the class was because my fiancé is converting. However, I am now soooo excited to be even ‘more Jewish’ and celebrate all the holidays, Shabbat, services, etc. I even told my brothers and family that they should take a class like this in the cities where they live. I did not expect to love this class the way I did, and I am very eager and excited to keep up even more the Jewish practice in our household (we’ve already started to!).”

After taking “Intro”, parents raising Jewish children decide to convert:

“I thought the class was perfect.  Very well done… I took the class to help raise my children. Now I want to live as a Jew.”

Communities:

  • Springhill Avenue Temple — Mobile, Alabama
  • Temple Beth Israel — Pomona, California
  • Temple Beth El Riverside — Riverside, California
  • Congregation Beth Israel — West Hartford, Connecticut  (in collaboration with Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation, Temple Sinai — Newington, Connecticut, and Temple Beth Hillel — South Windsor, Connecticut)
  • Temple Shir Shalom — West Bloomfield, Michigan
  • Temple of the High Country — Boone, North Carolina
  • Temple Sinai — Reno, Nevada
  • Temple Beth-El — Providence, Rhode Island  (in collaboration with Temple Sinai — Cranston, Rhode Island, and Temple Habonim — Barrington, Rhode Island)
  • Congregation Kol Ami — Flower Mound, Texas
  • Adat Chaverim — Plano, Texas
  • Brattleboro Area Jewish Community-Congregation Shir HeHarim — Brattleboro, Vermont
  • Beit Haskala Berlin — Berlin, Germany