More on the Reform of the URJ
The URJ has posted a press release detailing some specifics about the restructure plan I mentioned in my previous post.
Three notable points:
1. There’s been an additional Congregational Support Center added to the plan. This one will be somewhere in Canada.
2. The fates of specific programs are mentioned, although where their staff will be located and so on is not outlined:
A Center for Congregational Consultation will serve as the primary arena for consulting, training and delivering resources to enhance and strengthen congregations, congregational leaders and individual Reform Jews. The Center will be responsible for an expanded array of training opportunities, including existing programs such as Mifgash Musicale, the Scheidt Seminar for incoming congregational presidents, and the Rabbi Alexander Schindler Outreach Fellows.
The Union will continue in its mission to advance Reform Judaism and connect the various aspects of the Reform movement by providing core services that no one congregation can do alone. These include: The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, URJ Camps and Israel programs, NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth), Reform Judaism magazine, The North American Biennial, and education about and support for Israel and world Jewry. To promote interaction among congregations, the Union will form affinity groups around an array of topics and commonalities.
3. There is a recognition that it’s not only the Union that is suffering from the economy, but also individual congregations. In response, there will be some dues cuts:
The Board also adopted a proposal to provide immediate and practical financial relief to its member congregations during these challenging economic times. The plan will reduce dues paid by congregations to the Union over a three year period – 5% in the current year, 20% for the next fiscal year and 10% for the year after. The Union believes that it is essential in these difficult times to maintain the cohesiveness of the Reform Jewish Movement and that of the Union and its congregations. To that end, the Union has adopted a three year reduction in the dues to be paid to the Union to aid them in these demanding times.
I think this will be the big story to talk about for a while. I know it took me a couple of hours of trying before the URJ website traffic let up enough for me to even see the press release. This is a ballsy move on the part of the Union. If it succeeds, it will be looked at as the new model for synagogue support that could guarantee the survival of the movements — all the movements — for another generation. If not, the entire Jewish community will find that there will be a lot of work to do to ensure that we don’t lose a generation of Jews for lack of programming or support.
I’m not a member of the Reform Movement, or even of a synagogue at the moment, but I will be rooting for them.
(Read the entire press release here.)