Example Activities for Building a Culture of Keruv

This list contains examples of types of activities that can be done by sisterhoods and synagogues.

Welcoming Brochure for Interfaith Families

  • Ask the non-Jewish spouse to participate in creating a brochure
  • Enclose brochure with the sisterhood brochure and the sisterhood dues bill for membership.
  • Display it in your Judaica shop, in synagogue lobby or where other information on the synagogue is displayed.
  • Hand it out at High Holiday services or put the brochure on a display table.
  • Include it in the welcome packet of new members to the synagogue.
  • Include it in the synagogue information packet sent to prospective members.
  • Enclose it with sisterhood membership information.
  • Customize the LCCJ Brochure (handout from session and on WLCJ web-site) to your synagogue being sure to involve non-Jewish spouse/s in process.
  • Introduce and discuss it at Shabbat services and at daily minyanim.
  • Use and introduce at sisterhood meetings.
  • Note/highlight in synagogue bulletin.
  • Should be welcoming in general and for use by all.

Personal Rabbinic Initiative to Welcome Non-Jews

  • A get-together/meeting with the clergy for intermarried couples
  • Personal phone calls by the rabbi to the intermarried family.
  • Lunch, supper or cocktails with the rabbi at a home or the synagogue
  • Evening at a local pub or other venue outside of the synagogue/neutral place
  • Rabbi makes note of transliterated prayers, announces pages and explains prayers during services.
  • Clergy should have empathy at life cycle events of the intermarried family while still keeping within halakha.
  • Rabbi focuses on what the non-Jewish spouse can do rather than can’t do.
  • Closed door discussion groups led by rabbi, social worker or other professional to discuss family issues.
  • Sensitivity/knowledge for non-Jewish issues and beliefs
  • Programs held in venues other than the synagogue and led by the Rabbi
  • Education courses targeted to the group but open to all
  • Develop mentoring program for families.

Putting Holidays at Center of the Keruv Initiative

  • Workshops for families for the High Holiday celebrations
  • Informal discussion groups meeting monthly to discuss upcoming holiday.
  • Include history, synagogue ritual, home ritual, special foods with recipes and/or demonstration and tasting.
  • Target with “how-to” programs such as Shabbat “101” introduction for all
  • Match intermarried family with another family.

A Keruv Shabbat Experience

  • Share shabbat dinner – match families.
  • Shabbat dinners for singles, empty nesters, young or any age married with no children.
  • Discussion groups targeted to intermarried but open to all.
  • Partner with the preschool for basic shabbat and basic seder.
  • Shabbat afternoon dairy potluck suppers in the park during the summer when days are long.
  • Assign sisterhood member to look for new faces at kiddush to engage them.
  • Set up large tables so people can talk during kiddush.
  • Invite a new person to sit at your table.
  • Learner service with follow-up
  • Remember to include all age groups and welcome new faces.
  • Call intermarried families to invite them to religious services.
  • The synagogue rabbi is always the mara d’atra”, local rabbinic authority, for your synagogue.
  • Greeters for welcoming all but especially new faces
  • Printed guidelines for services
  • Involve the school as much as possible.

Thursday (or any other day) Keruv Programming

  • Monthly pizza night
  • Pub night gathering at someone’s home targeted for non-Jewish spouse.
  • Ongoing monthly discussion group with variety of topics with some targeted to intermarried couples and others to parents and grandparents.
  • Book, support and discussion groups

Focus on Grandparents of Intermarried/interdating Children

  • Identify parents and grandparents who have intermarried family members.
  • Get group together with trained professional – can be multiple times.
  • Discussions on embracing your interfaith family around, for example, holidays.
  • The Machatumin: “Married out but not opting out!”
  • Groups for intermarried couples:
  • “What is wrong with a little Jewish guilt?” (Temple Emanuel, Pascack Valley, NJ)
  • Parenting workshop led by professional with focus on bringing Judaism into you’re the home.
  • Mother’s Circle: “Raising Jewish children, but you are not Jewish? Don’t do it alone.” (Cong. Beth Or/Beth Torah, Clark, NJ)
  • Partner with others for critical mass.

Innovative Use of Electronic Media

  • Use website to reach out
  • Set up Facebook group to provide a networking forum for people whose lives have been touched by interfaith relationships. Be sure that the group is committed to helping the intermarried feel part of the Conservative Jewish community in a particular geographic area.
  • Email chat groups for Sisterhood members: Set guidelines – select knowledgeable moderator
  • Social media sites: Do your homework before signing up.
  • Interactive website
  • Use of e-mail for contacts and information
  • Webinars, electronic phone-calls
  • Use care around Face book “privacy issues”
  • Conference calls and texting

Using Film as Stimulus for Discussion

  • Select a film dealing with topics of interest.
  • Serve light supper or dessert and use a trained facilitator.
  • “Putting yourself in the picture.”
  • Movies can have an entirely secular theme or explicit Jewish themes.
  • Each film has an emotional or plot component that could lead to discussion of broader Jewish or keruv themes.
  • Suggestions: Keeping the Faith, I Am David, Life is a House, Chocolat, Arranged Marriage.
  • Target group can be parents and grandparents of intermarried.

Engaging the Unaffiliated Community

  • Rabbi/Cantor goes to local JCC to actively engage kids in early childhood center.
  • Use song and/or stories in synagogue pre-school and outside venues.
  • Put brochure on bulletin board at JCC with copies available for pick up.
  • Contact local realtors and give them brochures.
  • “Passover in the Aisles”: table in supermarket with information for unaffiliated.
  • Make contact through congregation preschool and kindergarten.
  • Use Jewish newspapers to get the word out.
  • Write articles that are newsworthy and work with synagogue publicity arm.
  • Seasonal experiences such as apple picking events

Making GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual) People Feel Welcome

  • Monthly Shabbat dinners for GLBT community with a speaker for the community.