TEMPLE SHALOM in Succasunna was among the eight winners of the 2019 Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Belin Awards, given to congregations that promote “audacious hospitality with creative, original, and outstanding initiatives that welcome seekers and engage prospective and current members.”
The $1,000 prizes were established with funding by the late David Belin, the first chair of the Joint Commission on Outreach and Membership of the URJ-Central Conference of American Rabbis. Ten other congregations received honorable mention; all will be honored in December at the URJ Biennial in Chicago.
“I am incredibly proud of our temple family for being recognized,” said congregation president Jeffrey Newman. “Our program Honoring a Loved One’s Yahrzeit was the cornerstone of our transformation to becoming a dynamic, relevant, and engaging community.” Through the program, members are invited to recognize a yahrtzeit by attending a Friday night service and sharing memories with the congregation. The program, said Newman, has enhanced a sense of community, created strong connections between members, renewed members’ interest in attending services, and increased intergenerational involvement.
“The Belin Awards recognize and celebrate outstanding leadership in what must be our highest priority — helping more people create deeper, richer, and more meaningful Jewish lives,” said URJ president Rabbi Rick Jacobs. “I have called this work Audacious Hospitality, which encompasses the core Jewish values around welcoming guests (hachnasat orchim), having an open tent (ohel patuach), loving-kindness (chesed), and respect (kavod).”