The next chapter of the JLC’s Community Vitality Project, the Synagogue Vitality Project, has progressed with the recent three day visit from our USA based consultant Professor Steven M Cohen. Steven met with those involved in synagogue life in the UK and we have started to assemble an impressive steering group representing all sections of the community for the project, overseen by JLC Trustee Bill Benjamin. We are aiming to design and launch a project, whose chief policy objective is to stimulate, shape and contribute to thinking and action seeking to enhance Jewish congregational life in the UK. The central research objective of the project will be to ascertain and ultimately bolster the extent and intensity of Jewish engagement associated with our synagogues. The investigation will range across several areas of synagogue life. We are planning three phases of research, each phase will investigate different issues and features of vitality and how it is produced, and the phases will interact and inform one another. The three phases are: a national survey of congregational leadership, survey of congregants in six congregations of reputed excellence and qualitative fieldwork in six congregations of reputed excellence.
Commenting on the project, Professor Cohen said:
There are truly exceptional congregations. Are they common? Not at all. But they do exist. And they can offer instructive and inspiring lessons for their counterparts. The JLC Synagogue Vitality Study will seek to unpick the workings of several visionary and vital congregations, and to tease out the lessons we all can learn from them, as well as demonstrate the extraordinary potential of Jewish congregations at their very best.
Bill Benjamin, Chairman of the Synagogue Vitality Project said:
I have had the privilege in life to be a member of a number of warm, dynamic synagogues. They are essential for community vitality. This study should provide insights to help strengthen synagogues well into the 21st century.