In an effort to bring Jewish communities back to shul as more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Orthodox Union awarded grants worth $100,000 to 34 synagogues across the US, and one in Canada.
The winners of the grant were chosen from over 300 entries, on the basis of their out-of-the-box thinking, coupled with opportunities more likely to rebuild and reaffirm the value of synagogue and community, as well as encourage congregants to return for the long term. Some innovative ideas included a communal Kiddush celebration as a “make-up” for missed milestones, a back-to-synagogue fair, and a parlor-meeting project to deconstruct the changed needs of congregants.
“The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us all that the shul experience creates a sense of community that is irreplicable,” said OU President Moishe Bane. “Shul leaders across the country are discovering new ways to bring back our communities stronger than ever—our families, our singles, our seniors, and our youth.”
OU synagogue initiatives director Rabbi Adir Posy said “in going through all of the submissions, it became abundantly clear that shuls are seizing the opportunity to re-engage our community in the essential experience that shul offers. We’ve collected so many ideas and put together a database so that shuls of all sizes and from all over the world can have access to this great thinking and utilize it for their own shuls.”