Temple Emanu-El Listening Campaign
We Heard You!
In the spring of 2015, we conducted a Temple-wide Listening Campaign called “Focus on You,” using small groups to obtain feedback for planning the future of our congregation. These groups included participation from all demographics of our congregation. All members were invited to attend and provide input. Fellow congregants with expertise in market research and experience running focus groups led these sessions, with the support of Temple Board members. Congregants were organized into seven demographic segments, and 13 focus groups. The congregants spoke, and we, the Board and committee, listened. WE HEARD YOU!
We heard positive feedback about our programs and services, clergy, staff and leadership. With this in mind, we consistently heard the word “connections” across all of the segments; that is congregants wanting to feel “more connected” and being part of the larger Temple community. We also learned that different segments were interested in making these connections in different ways.
What We Have Done
As a result, we created task forces to address areas for specific segments:
- More social events and fun activities for everyone;
- Introducing a warmer, more hospitable physical environment;
- Opportunities for better Temple connections for those who live outside of Westfield;
- More variety and relevance in adult education programs;
- Worship services that are more participatory and less formal;
- Improving interaction with other Jewish organizations; and
- Breaking barriers to continue membership and involvement at the Temple.
We already have some successes addressing these topics:
- We established a “Shabbat Row” at services, where a Board member sits in an identified row to welcome new and current members and to sit together when they are not familiar with other congregants or want to meet new ones.
- A barbeque for new and prospective members was held at Rabbi Sagal’s house.
- Board members are wearing name badges at Shabbat services, so that they can be identified, and be recognized and available to talk during Oneg Shabbat.
- Cranford residents attended a Temple-related social event in Cranford.
- Photos of every Board member are currently being placed on our website.
- In order to provide an informal place to sit, chat and greet, we are planning to install new furniture for the Temple lobby.
- When the Lavy House opens, we plan to host several Shabbat dinners every year for congregants to connect more closely with clergy.
Our Next Steps
We are equally excited about the longer-term, as we are planning to refurbish and redesign our Temple space to better serve the needs of our congregation. We consistently heard congregants ask for facility improvements, including an upgrade to Greifer Sacks social hall so it could be used more often for parties and weddings, and a redesign of the Sanctuary to be warmer and more intimate. We created a Temple Renovation Task Force to address this and already began a process to assess current facility usage and our future needs, including visits to several synagogues to understand their renovations and financial campaigns.
The findings of the focus groups have given us a wealth of information to use in planning our future, making our Temple a vibrant and dynamic congregation. We have an exciting road ahead of us, with much work to do in accomplishing our next steps, and we welcome you to join together with us – the leadership, clergy and staff to accomplish these goals.
We Need Your Help
Many thanks to the people who worked together to make this listening campaign a success: focus group participants for generously taking their time to provide invaluable input; congregants who volunteered to facilitate the groups, Temple Board members for their efforts; and office staff for their support.
We need volunteers!
Would you like to work on a social committee?
Help plan new services and educational programs?
Work with other organizations to improve our community relations?
Want to use your skills in project management, architecture, construction or fundraising to help the Temple renovate its space?
If you would like to work on any of these task forces, please send us your name and interest to FocusOnYou@tewnj.org.