Tools for your Shuls - Fall 2015

A project of the FJMC

Suggestions for Increasing Engagement    Fall 2015 Volume 4, Issue No. 1


The Website                   

The Website is your congregation’s calling card. If it is to be successful it must address the concerns of the people you hope to attract and engage. Most congregational websites can be likened to poorly constructed dictionaries. One can obtain directions a list of activities and of course a button which encourages the visitor to donate, unfortunately this little red button is too often flashing.

Imagine you are interviewing for a new position and the website is your prospective employer. If the employer was actively seeking to fill the position, he/she would explain who they are and why the position is important. They might use a phrase like, “We are actively seeking people who will broaden the way we think,” or, we are seeking people whose skills and participation will allow us to be more successful in the marketplace.

I have never reviewed a website that indicates that my presence is needed because my thinking and volunteering can enrich the community. I have also never viewed a website that thanks people for taking the time to learn about us.


First consider the verbiage

Before one begins to think about where it belongs on your website you need to seriously consider the words that you use. Are the words, “Intermarriage and “Intermarried” the correct words to use? One could assume Intermarried is preferable to “interfaith, or dual-faith” because some people are interfaithless. One should consider that using the word, “Intermarried” could be likened to profiling because couples where people come from two different religious traditions do not wish to be labeled. They have chosen to join a Conservative/Masorti synagogue because they want to be integrated and accepted into the community. They will shy away from interfaith chavurot and other types of programming. We would ask you to consider employing words like people raised in different religious traditions to Intermarrieds.  But do what you wish.

Where does it belong on the website?

On the opening page, consider including it in the “about our congregation?

Consider having a button that reads, “Not Jewish? Click here

Once people click through show them two categories, the top one could read,” Being part of our community”, the bottom one could read, “ if you’re thinking about becoming Jewish”

Each item should be followed by a brief paragraph indicating what the community offers.

Don’t forget to explain Membership and Burial

These are the two deal breakers, the great impediments to feeling part of the community. A website needs to be extremely clear about these issues. If your congregation hasn’t thought these two issues through thoroughly, then don’t’ include this item on your website and instead encourage people who are interested to meet with the clergy to discuss their feelings.

An increasing number of congregations have worked with their cemeteries following Rabbinical Assembly guidelines and made internment of family members who were raised in different religious traditions to be buried alongside their loved ones.

The Website is the entire point to the community.  It is a great tool if properly utilized.

For Additional Information

Joshua Cohn, Keruv Coordinator

Rabbi Charles Simon, Exec Dir FJMC

New Book

"Engaging the Non-Jewish Spouse:  Strategies for Clergy and Lay Leadership"

by Rabbi Charles Simon, and available at the FJMC Store