At Central Synagogue

Your Voice Matters: Summary Report

Posted October 15, 2015

What does Central Synagogue mean to you?

The Your Voice Matters initiative offered our membership the opportunity to meet with senior clergy, and with each other, to learn how we think about Reform Judaism and Central Synagogue. In a series of intimate gatherings at the homes of fellow congregants, we explored how Central serves as a House of Worship (Beit Tefillah), a House of Study (Beit Midrash) and a House of Gathering (Beit Kinesset). We heard how it serves your needs, the needs of the congregation, and the needs of the larger community.

You told us that Central is your house of worship (Beit Tefillah).

There was great praise and support for our clergy. Our Shabbat worship service, High Holidays and other holidays are universally loved. So many of you reported feeling especially connected to our music, to the way it helps you experience prayer and enhances feelings of spirituality. Many said they feel welcome and included in services, no matter what their faith, denomination or sexual orientation. So many of you told us that Central provides a home and support for interfaith couples, especially during simchas such as B’nei Mitzvot.

You told us that Central is your house of learning (Beit Midrash).

Programs such as Melton, I Engage (focused on Israel), and weekly Torah study were given special mention. You told us you were particularly impressed to learn of the success of our Exploring Judaism program and the number of people who have chosen conversion over the past few years. You told us you want to know more about how you can get involved in the Small Groups initiative. You also said you want help preparing your teens for campus life, as well as techniques to help preserve their Jewish identity. You also told us you are very concerned about the rise of Anti-Semitism.

You told us that Central is your house of gathering (Beit Kinesset).

You stressed that Central was the community to which you “needed” to belong. Some of you told us that you have sat in the same High Holiday seats for five generations.

You told us that you joined as empty nesters after synagogue shopping, and felt great pride in getting off the wait list to belong to Central. You spoke about your times of need, when pastoral care and support from the clergy and your Central community was a source of solace. Participation in trips, especially to Israel, retreats, and volunteering were all mentioned as ways that you feel part of a community at Central, but you also said we could do better. You requested more social/community building programs especially for our singles over 50.

From the Your Voice Matters initiative, we learned not only of our strengths, but areas that need to be strengthened. You told us we need to improve our communication across every touch point, including mail, email, the web, mobile, in fact, you want an app for that! You want us to be better about informing you about opportunities for volunteerism and social interaction. You told us what you need to know and how you prefer to learn about it.

You told us that you appreciated the Your Voice Matters initiative and enjoyed being welcomed into the homes of your fellow congregants. New members expressed gratitude for the invitations and the opportunity to spend time with our clergy and board members. You told us to build on the conversations of 2015, to follow up with you, and to deepen the dialogue. As we develop and revisit our strategic priorities, which will include writing a new mission statement and core values document, we will certainly take what you have told us to heart. We will also work with you to create a structure for adult engagement that serves you better, and is responsive to the many ideas that have been generated by you.

Because at the end of the day, your voice really does matter.