"What is happening in my congregation will work for organizations and
congregations of all faiths."
Dr. Tussy Shnider
Relational Judaism, implemented as 'One Family' is a way of thinking, a way of doing things. It is who we strive to be. We are in the midst of a transformation, a culture shift to a culture based in relationships of one member to another, of member to Temple, of member to Torah and God.
We agreed as a group that, in addition to some other changes, name badges could help us provide a more welcoming atmosphere. One member of the Team offered to cover the cost of the badges. Another Team member, who owned a woodworking company, volunteered to have a cabinet built to hold the badges. Research was done to determine the best type of badge that would meet our needs.
After a while, when interest in home-held Shabbat dinners waned, an attempt was made to revitalize that interest. Among the efforts to do this, was a plan to make the project more visible. We began a process called “Shabbat Dinners with Strings Attached.” An article explaining the project appeared in our monthly bulletin. The trains on a wall in a Temple hallway looked like this with host’s name on the engine and guests' names on the cars.
Prior to the advent of the "Temple Bean", it was customary for parents to drop children at the Temple door and drive to a coffee shop to chat, until it was time to pick up their kids. The Temple leadership decided to develop our own space for coffee and chat. Thus, our cafe came into being, and is enjoyed by everyone including the parents who used to drive to the local coffee house.
The badges were arranged alphabetically in the cabinet drawers. The members access their badges from the cabinet as they enter the building. At first, we re-filed the badges for the members, Soon we asked the attendees to re-file their own badges.The transition went smoothly and our members soon became accustomed to locating and returning their badges, not only for services but whenever they came into the building for events.
The Library – Before we began our One Family initiative, a plan had been initiated to redo our temple library…a whole new look. Because the timing was so close to the work our One Family Team was doing, and because our library was a space that could be conducive to conversation and connection, it soon came to be thought of as one of our projects. In truth, our team had little to do with the library project, but we were looking for the library to be a conversation-friendly space. The library project was designed and funded by a local furniture company owned by members of the congregation.
This welcoming and comfortable space was designed for meeting and gathering in various configurations for small group connections. The coffee bar provides a warm incentive to sit and chat with others who are there. This has become apparent on weekdays when small group meetings are held in the library and when a group of women meet in the library to play Mahjong, or just catch up with friends.
Tribute Garden – Before the One Family Initiative was launched, a few One Family Team members with a passion for gardening and landscaping had expressed concern about a garden space outside our Social Hall. This space, visible at the front of our building, had not been productive for many years. Other than providing the location for our Succah in the past, the area was unused. The bushes that surrounded it were overgrown and unruly. Tree roots had caused damage to paved areas. The lawn was patchy and weedy.
After allowing time for the plants to grow and fill in, a dedication ceremony was held on April 2, 2017. The Temple Building and Grounds Committee determined and announced the level of donations required to honor or memorialize someone with the “purchase” of a bench, a rock, a plant, or a paver thus creating a tribute garden. The publicity with this information soon followed and that aspect of the project began. About three years into our One Family Initiative, not only had an unusable space been cleaned up and a garden created for engaging in quiet conversation or contemplation, but a fundraising opportunity had been developed! The Tribute Garden was created with donated funds and services.