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University of Colorado Boulder Program in Jewish Studies

Har HaShem Wins URJ Belin Outreach and Membership Award

Congregation Har HaShem was one of eight winners from all across North America of the 2015 Union for Reform Judaism’s Belin Outreach and Membership Awards. The Belin Outreach and Membership Awards are presented to congregations that have developed programs to actively welcome and integrate those new to Judaism, created relationship-based membership engagement models, or developed new, innovative ways to engage and retain members of our congregations, all of which are the essence of Audacious Hospitality.
Eight winners were awarded $1,000, funded through the generosity of David Belin, z”l, the first chair of the URJ-CCAR Joint Commission on Outreach and Membership. Six other congregations received honorable mention for their exceptional programs. All will be honored at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial in Orlando, FL, November, 2015, the largest Jewish gathering in North America.

Congregation Har HaShem’s Neighborhood Groups, where congregants are grouped by location and encouraged to “do Jewish” together outside of the walls of the synagogue building, were seen as an innovative and replicable program that other congregations across the country can adopt.

“As a neighborhood co-captain, I have been so Blessed to get to know people that I otherwise might not have. Through rituals like Shabbat dinners, Volunteer cleanup days, Happy Hours, making Hamentashen or sitting shiva together we bond in unique ways. Events are attended together by families with babies, mature mavens in walkers, recent immigrants and more. Connections are made and we look forward to seeing each other at synagogue or under someone’s giant menorah. If I’m not available, my co-captain is. As a team, we keep the Jewish connections in our neighborhood strong.” – Andie Kutinsky, Co-Captain of Lafayette Group
“The Belin Awards recognize and celebrate outstanding leadership in what must be our highest priority – helping more people create deeper, richer, and more meaningful Jewish lives. I have called this work Audacious Hospitality, which encompasses the core Jewish values around welcoming guests (hachnasat orchim), having an open tent (ohel patuach), lovingkindness (chesed), and respect (kavod). These exemplary communities promote a welcoming, inclusive Judaism, and we applaud their creative approaches,” said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

For more information, visit: http://urj.org/cong/outreach/belin/

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