Shifting Synagogue Culture at Shape the Center

Two weeks ago, we were excited to lead a day-long community organizing training for 12 Conservative rabbis and their lay leaders at Shape the Center, the Conservative Movement’s biannual conference.  JOIN for Justice Senior Trainer Jeannie Appleman led the training along with JOIN Board member Rabbi Noah Farkas.


We spent the morning exploring how to catalyze a culture shift in synagogues.  We discussed how to move from a transactional culture where members expect certain things in exchange for the dues they pay, towards a relational culture where all members take responsibility for the future of the congregation.  Then Rabbi Farkas shared the basics of conducting one-to-one meetings, and the importance of listening deeply and understanding interests of new leaders.

In the afternoon, participants explored the cycle of organizing and how to use house meetings to build new bases of leaders for their synagogues.  Finally, Rabbi Farkas led the group through a case study of the recent campaign on homelessness and affordable housing that his synagogue has played a critical role in.  Participants had the opportunity to explore what tactics worked best in this campaign, and think through how to conduct a power analysis and unearth the best tactics in their own communities.



We enjoyed the opportunity to further deepen our relationship with the Conservative rabbis and lay leaders, and look forward to hearing about how the participants in this training put these ideas into action in their communities and congregations.

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