It’s High Holy Day Time!!!
No doubt, this is an important time in synagogue life. Literally, hundreds and thousands of people will be coming to synagogues throughout the world next week.
In many North American synagogues, special efforts have been made to make them spiffy. The carpets have recently been cleaned and new plantings have been added to the front walkway.
The rabbi should have written all of his/her sermons, especially since there seemed to be extra time in September this year as the High Holy Days fall later in the month.
And just when you think the distribution of High Holy Tickets (are you in favor or against?) have been all taken care of, I wonder how many calls synagogue staff will be receiving in the coming days regarding lost tickets, and the need for more tickets.
I think of the High Holy Days as an opportunity. It is kind of like a big homecoming. You don’t have to do much for people to come. The hard part is providing engaging worship so they will want to come back at other times of the year.
Nanette Fridman’s article yesterday in ejewishphilanthropy makes the analogy between Apple’s recent launch of the IPhone 6 to the upcoming High Holy Days. She offers 7 things synagogue leaders can do to make people feel engaged – from having a hit squad of welcoming ushers to having a visible suggestion box and asking people for ideas.
I think this analogy can even be taken a step further. The thought and planning that went into the launch and marketing of the newest IPhone and the new IWatch is what has to go into the High Holy Days. Not just in terms of making the building shine. You should also be sure that all of communications- email and regular mail – pieces that announce the holidays, send the tickets and the like, convey that community feeling, that your synagogue is a place everyone will want to be.
I also feel quite strongly about this: If the worship is engaging, people will want to come back for Shabbat.
If the worship is a reminder of what people didn’t like about attending High Holy Day worship with their parents years ago, well that is a different story.
The hard work of engaging congregants actually starts on Rosh Hashanah. Check out my blog from September 19, 2012 on engagement ideas with congregants following the High Holy Days.
I have always believed that that prayer and Torah go hand in hand with financial challenges. If a critical mass of congregants are feeling engaged in a Sacred Community through meaningful worship and study, money will not really be that big of a problem.