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  • Dr. Tussy Shnider

May, 2019. Welcome to the blog following the publication of One Congregation’s Journey of Change:

May, 2019. Welcome to the blog following the publication of One Congregation’s Journey of Change: A Guide to Enhancing Relationships in Your Congregation. Because the writing of the book ended about six months ago, we have several updates. In this blog, I will focus on one – new members’ name badges.

As I shared in my book, after the removal of financial barriers to membership (dues and building fund), our membership numbers grew at an unusually rapid rate. This rapid growth continued in this fiscal year. Of course, we are very pleased to provide a liberal Jewish religious home for so many people in the Greater Naples area. It appears that such an opportunity has been needed for some time. It is important to us to graciously welcome these new members and to assist them in connecting to Temple life in any way that is meaningful to them. Each new member is greeted with an intake interview with our Concierge (Membership Engagement Coordinator). Our Membership Chair (who is also one of the One Family Chairs) contacts each and every new member and welcomes them to our One Family. Frequently, during the Erev Shabbat service, Rabbi Miller will call new members to the Bimah for a special blessing. With permission, new members’ names (and sometimes a brief description about where they are from and their interests) are printed in our monthly bulletin. Of course, we continue to have our New Member Shabbat that begins with a pot luck Shabbat dinner. In addition, a cadre of members each has been asked to contact about 15 new member families (or singles) to chat with them, learn about the new members’ expectations regarding activity in Temple, perhaps learn what their “passions” for participation might be, and to report what they learned to one of the One Family Chairs. The Chairs, in turn, notify the appropriate leaders that new members are interested in becoming part of their committee or affiliated organization. The next step is for these leaders to contact the new members and welcome them to their ranks. We are considering the possibility of parlor meetings based on interests, providing an opportunity for leaders and new members to get acquainted.

Providing name badges for all adult members was one of our first One Family projects and one that continues to provide meaningful connections among our members. We have been aware since the beginning of this project that our new members look forward to finding their name badges in the cabinet and to wearing their badges to services and Temple events. Of course, our current new members are no different – they begin looking for their name badges the next time they come to Temple. But we ran into a “glitch!” Early in this fiscal year (2018-2019) we realized that we were running out of space in our name badge cabinet! What a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” WONDERFUL situation that is! (apologies to author Judith Viorst!) We have so many new members that we were actually running out of space in the cabinet!! It became clear that we would need another name badge cabinet. While this possibility was being researched by our One Family leadership and Temple staff, the new badges were placed in a flat box on top of the existing cabinet. After careful consideration a cabinet company was selected (the original cabinet company was no longer available) and a new cabinet was ordered. A few weeks ago, the new cabinet was delivered! It is perfect and looks exactly like the original one! (See pictures.) After spreading the name badges between the two cabinets (a joyful but time-consuming job!), our new members’ badges now have taken their rightful place in the alphabetically arranged name badge cabinets! And now there is plenty of room for many more!

My book, One Congregation’s Journey of Change: A Guide to Enhancing Relationships in Your Congregation, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I am available to consult with congregation leaders (in person or electronically) wanting more information regarding the Relational Judaism implementation process (Author@DrTussyShnider.com