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  • Dr. Tussy Shnider

The Inspiration Behind "One Congregation's Journey of Change"

Updated: Sep 3, 2018

I first learned of the concept of a relationship-based congregation in the mid-1990s when I attended a presentation at a Biennial meeting of the Northeast Lakes Region of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). The presenters were from a congregation in our Region that had been selected to be a pilot congregation to implement the concept as described by Rabbi Richard Address, a Union for Reform Judaism leader known for his work regarding Jewish family concerns, especially “sacred aging.”

Rabbi Address had written his doctoral thesis on the sacredness of relationships. He stated: Everything from architecture to grand-parenting is in flux and change. Yet, it seems that one issue of life remains constant. Relationships. I am a believer in what I have come to call the “theology of relationships.” This is not very high brow. It is pretty simple, actually. It is a belief that the most powerful aspect of our lives, especially as we age, are the relationships that we have. The desire to be with other people, to share life in all of its aspects, is a key to health of the soul and thus attitudes of living…relationships are primary and the nurturing of these relationships is a key to health and fulfillment.

Rabbi Address had envisioned congregations that functioned based on that value – the sacredness of relationships. Several congregations around the country had been invited to implement the concept; each of their approaches differed from the others. He described these congregations based in relationships as “caring communities.”

Dr. Shnider's new book, One Congregation's Journey of Change: A Guide to Enriching Relationships In Your Congregation will be out this Fall. This “how to” book describes the steps taken by a Reform Jewish congregation to transform their culture from a transactional, program-based organization to one focused on the sacredness of relationships. For more information contact Dr. Shnider at Author@DrTussyShnider.com or visit online at DrTussyShnider.com.

"Theology of Relationships"