Good afternoon. My discussion today is about membership growth at Adath Jeshurun.
For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jeffrey Greenberg and for the past three years I have been your membership Chairperson. It has been enriching (challenging, but enriching).
It is an honor to speak before our community today and share my thoughts with you. I want to encourage each and every one of you to listen to my message in such a way that it moves and inspires you so that you feel compelled to act on it and choose to help to further the growth and long-term vibrancy of Adath Jeshurun.
I am not going to make an appeal for money today (I hope that feels good), but rather appeal to your heart for an active participation in sharing yourself with others about our community and what it has to offer. Then, inviting them to share in it.
Said another way, when I am done speaking today I would like each and every one you to stop to think who you know and would like to invite to see the beauty of the remodeled synagogue, share in the wonderful programs & culture that are available here, and to be a part of the long-term health of the conservative Jewish community in Louisville, Kentucky.
In the space of Judaism in the world we are small, but in my mind we have the opportunity to be a world leader in new ways of being as a synagogue. We can be a community others point to and say “how did they do that in a small city in the south?”. You should know we are already on our way.
Now for a little history… As a newly active member about five years ago, I began by sitting on the board of the synagogue and was an observer. I had always thought and wondered that once the gorgeous renovation was complete how would we as a community grow and communicate who we are to Louisville. The next year Rabbi Slosberg asked me if I would like to be an assistant on the Finance Committee of the Board. I laughed and said “Rabbi, I don't know much about accounting, nor do I like it (no offense to the accountants in the room). However, I will help you with membership if you would like me to.” We had a deal…then the fun began.
We were old school. We had a committee and meetings. It was hard to get volunteers in our busy world. Our website was old and tired. I think this gives you the picture. We were obtaining new members, but our approach did not fit the future.
Through extensive research and the full and enthusiastic support of the Board of Trustees, our Presidents and the Vision Committee we laid new groundwork with the goal of a very fluid system for Membership Retention, Membership Acquisition and a website that was the standard for any Synagogue.
As a result of the work the Membership Services Coordinator position at Adath Jeshurun was born and our very own Lizzie Tasch was hired to fill the role. Lizzie grew up in our community and has masterfully handled the needs of the position and many more tasks that have been assigned to her.
As an aside and to add to your thought process around this discussion, you should know that the Board of Trustees has approved the new policy of anyone joining Adath Jeshurun who is 30 years of age and under can be a member at no charge so that the younger generation has the opportunity to enjoy the Synagogue without any initial financial pressures. This new policy is in addition to the existing policy of children of existing members getting their first year of membership for free regardless of age. Adath Jeshurun is building for future generations…and we are a stand for a vibrant future for Jewish Louisville.
So now here is my appeal. Support our membership efforts and Lizzie fully, support our mission for growth fully and spread the word.
You might ask, “what can I do and what should I do to create synergy and fun around all the lofty aims?”.
This is my request. Share yourselves with others in the Louisville community and invite them to something that you enjoy that is offered here. What I have to say next may sound unusual. The intension is not to get them to join the Adath Jeshurun. That will come naturally and by choice. The intension is not to have more dues or money coming in (sorry Rabbi, but you told me that will come naturally and by choice as well). The investment they make will be a result of them enjoying their experience and choosing us. The intention is to allow them to experience a warm, nurturing and healthy environment that offers a Jewish experience like no other in Louisville for all people and families that are seeking spirituality, friendship, Jewish culture, community and history. Who will be your first invitation and how will you support the initiative?
In closing, I must mention that we are all very fortunate to have the best Rabbi and Cantor. I personally want to thank them for enhancing my personal growth.
In the past few years I have learned to read Torah again, I have gotten the friendship of many of you and often on Friday or Saturday evenings I have gotten to go to Minyan with my Dad. I don’t take any of this for granted and it is these experiences and the many others available here that we need to perpetuate.
Thank you for listening, L'Shanah Tovah Tikatevu ("May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.") and may we be a warm and welcoming congregation…a congregation that offers love, warmth, inclusiveness and growth for years to come.