November 2006 The Four Questions (in November)….

I was recently asked to respond to a survey entitled “The 2006 Survey of Conservative Congregational Leaders.”  The survey is being conducted on behalf of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and its author has promised to share a copy of the results with me when he publishes them.  

        I found that some of the questions asked in the survey – and some of the possible answers proposed – speak volumes about the state of the Conservative movement, and about the challenges that Conservative synagogues face throughout the country.  

         Here are the four questions I focused on:


         Question #6:  “Below are some reasons why people join congregations.


Which, do you think, are the three most important reasons that motivate new members to join your congregation these days?”


         Some of the possible answers include:


            To give their children a Jewish education


            To find community and experience belonging


            So their children can celebrate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah


            To have a place to worship on the High Holidays


            To do the right thing, because it is “expected”


            To experience spirituality and sacredness


            To learn more about Judaism and to grow as a Jew


            To experience engaging worship services


            To have a rabbi they find appealing


         Question #7:  “For those members who remain in the congregation after their children become Bar/Bat Mitzvah, which of the reasons below do you think are the three most important reasons motivating them to stay?”


         Some of the possible answers include:


            They found community and experienced belonging


            They found or made close friends within the congregation


            They wanted to do the right thing, because it is “expected”


            They experienced spirituality and sacredness


            They experienced engaging worship services


            The rabbi and/or congregation supported them through life cycle events


Question #51 asks respondents to indicate their agreement or disagreement with a


number of statements.


 Our congregation…


            Has a clear mission and purpose.


            Is a warm and caring community.


            Is a spiritual and sacred community.


            Is a learning community.


            Welcomes new and prospective members.


            Makes it easy for people to get active and take leadership.


            Is always ready to try something new.


            Is like a close knit family.


Question #52 asks respondents to indicate how well their congregation functions


in a variety of areas, including the following:


            The religious school


            The preschool


            B’Nai Mitzvah celebrations


            Youth Activities


            Adult Education


            Worship Services




            Social Action


            Welcoming and recruiting new members


            Welcoming interfaith families


            The effectiveness of the top lay leadership


I expect that the results of this survey – and these four questions in particular –


will be very interesting and I will share them with you when they are published.  In the meantime, though, I would be very interested in hearing responses to these questions from Temple Beth Sholom congregants.  Feel free to share your thoughts with me by email, snail mail, phone or in person.  The input I receive will be shared with our Board of Directors (without attribution) and should be very helpful in charting our shul’s course over the next several years.


         Thanks in advance!