Open Tent Project
Doris Jacobson, Open Tent Project Coordinator
“…It is a vault of goodness and real people who give off Jewish love and inclusiveness.”
“I love the warmth and love from the clergy and community.” “The warmth of being accepted, the vast number of opportunities to practice Judaism, to learn, to participate in Tikkun Olam, to be present with other Jews…”
“Temple Beth El was the first synagogue I visited and I knew I didn’t need to go anywhere else.
“I felt welcome and at home. That was 24 years ago!”
“We wanted to find place to give our children a place where they could develop their Jewish identity.”
“I always feel I have a voice to speak.” “Love this Temple with all my heart!
These are just a few of the comments from Census TBE. The response rate indicated a strong passion by our members for TBE. The survey was sent to 306 Temple members and 131 responses were received. (Note that depending on the emails per household, some households received 2 copies of the census. Some households responded jointly.) The strongest responses validated and showed appreciation for:
- Our strength as a TBE community and the strong valuing of community
- The valuing and appreciation of the clergy
- The importance of the High Holy Days
It is interesting to note that when asked about what are you most proud of, the word “community” was used more than 40 times, and the word “warmth” was used more than 25 times. When asked “what do you enjoy most about Temple Beth El” the strongest responses were:
- Clergy and staff
- The people
- Being part of the community
- Services during Shabbat and holidays
Of those responding, 77% found the High Holy Day services to be most spiritually enriching, followed by Musical Shabbat, Friday night Torah services, and the Rabbi’s weekly Shabbat messages. 70% of congregants indicated that they attend services and programs at least once a month. Many said that during Covid, they are finding themselves especially engaged with the services and programs and “attend” frequently.
When asked how a member came to Temple Beth El, the following responses were given:
- Due to family and friends
- Location and proximity to one’s home
- Generational and grew up at TBE
- Due to being warmly welcomed
During this time of the Coronavirus, many congregants indicated that they appreciated that TBE has been so concerned for their welfare. They expressed satisfaction with the services and programming and felt that the clergy were doing an amazing job to keep the congregation together. And being in the comfort of our homes, a few appreciated not having to commute! Regarding the ages of those responding, 58% were 65 and above and 42% were below 65. So what did we learn from the census, from the counting of our people? We learned that our congregants place great value upon the TBE community and its warmth. This is important as we share our TBE experiences with family and friends who do not belong to a congregation, especially prior to the High Holy Days.
We learned that our congregants are appreciative of the connectivity during Covid and are engaged with the variety of services and programming. We learned that our community greatly values the spirituality of the new year, a time of new beginnings and hopes inspired by the Rabbi’s sermons and teachings, and the Cantor’s beautiful music.
The Open Tent committee is in the process of further analyzing the census responses, connecting those who expressed an interest in additional engagement and involvement. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I am happy to answer any questions. A very special thanks to all those who responded and shared their thoughts and comments with us. May what we learned help us continue to grow from strength to strength.