At a recent meeting of the Temple Beth Sholom Board of Directors, a motion was made (and passed) to approve a program entitled “Planting Seeds,” which aims — through modest financial incentives — to attract more non-member families to enroll in our Hebrew School program, and ultimately to join our synagogue. This program represents a proactive measure to deal with the fact that our school enrollment seems to be shrinking, despite fairly steady membership numbers.
The problem we face at Temple Beth Sholom does not seem to be unique to our shul. To the contrary, many area synagogues are confronting declining school enrollment and declining membership. These concerns seem to reflect a demographic shift, among other things. Without the benefit of research and surveys, though, we can only speculate about what truly is going on.
Speculation and conjecture, however, get us only so far. I commend the Board of Education for developing the concept of “Planting Seeds.” The rationale for the program that was articulated by the members of the Board of Ed, and is summarized below, speaks volumes about the new approaches we must take to strengthening and growing our Temple Beth Sholom community.
“Planting Seeds” aims not only to increase school enrollment, but also to augment Temple, Sisterhood and Men’s Club membership, simply by attracting more families to the shul. The policy reflects a collaborative effort being made by the Hebrew School, Family Education program, K’tanim preschool, Sisterhood, Men’s Club, Adult Education program and other branches of the shul to attract non-members to become introduced to and involved with Temple Beth Sholom on different levels and at different entry points.
Each of us can participate in this program. Simply by accessing the new and constantly improving Temple Beth Sholom website (www.tbshamden.com ) any member can view the wide variety of programs and events occurring at our shul. From Family Education to Adult Education… from daily minyanim to Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations… there is a lot happening at Temple Beth Sholom. Each of us can help spread the word.
The Board of Education’s written proposal for “Planting Seeds” concludes by stating: “The program is a strong reminder that Jewish tradition is about planting seeds, not about instant gratification. We MUST plant the seeds of education, of membership, of involvement in services, social functions and community. Growth takes time and that is what our policy change is all about – Growth.”
I cannot more strongly endorse the theme of this message, particularly at this time of year, and sincerely hope that every member of the Temple Beth Sholom community will find some time this year to help “plant seeds” for our future.