November 2006

Special Dossier: Decision 5767
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Networking Central

Jewish Outreach Partnership 
Synaplex? Philadelphia.

-- Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein

What do Israeli Dancing at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, a Meditation Service at Temple Sinai in Dresher, and a Happy Hour at Rodeph Shalom in Center City have in common?

All of them were Synaplex? Philadelphia programs in 2005-2006.

Synaplex Philadelphia is one the many programs that the Jewish Outreach Partnership offers in the Philadelphia area to help synagogues create new pathways for Jews to enter into Jewish life. Funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and initially conceived by STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal), Synaplex encourages synagogues to think outside the box and reach out to an underserved demographic in its Shabbat programming. No longer is Shabbat the exclusive home of the service-going crowd. By exploring creative options, bringing in outside speakers and performers, actively engaging all layers of synagogue membership, and scheduling overlapping programs that encourage groups to interact with one another, Synaplex Philadelphia creates a fuller and richer Shabbat experience. Currently sixteen synagogue are part of Synaplex Philadelphia.

However, the real purpose of Synaplex Philadelphia is to create community.

"Every congregation will develop Synaplex in its own image and in the process they will better define, communicate and promote that image. At the same time, they will learn from each other and build greater collegiality across our Jewish community," said Rabbi Philip Warmflash, JOP's Executive Director.

Bringing together a diverse group of synagogues ? Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist --- helps foster relationships that go well beyond Synaplex programs.

The Jewish Outreach Partnership specializes in creating partnerships between communities. An outgrowth of the Rebecca Gratz Hebrew Sunday School Society, founded in 1836 to reach out to unaffiliated Jews, JOP is committed to strengthening the Philadelphia Jewish community by designing strategies for synagogue transformation and renewal, providing training and support for volunteer and professional leadership, and creating opportunities for meaningful connections with those who are synagogue members and with those who are not.

"Our tradition tells us to study together, in chevrutah [small study groups], because it gives us greater strength and knowledge. We do this as individuals coming together, JOP brings us together as congregations --- groups of individuals --- joining forces." said Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin of Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park.

For more information about Synaplex? Philadelphia and the other programs of the Jewish Outreach Partnership call 215-635-2877 or email info@jopp.org.

Past Networking Central Groups of the Month

In this section, we highlight a new local group each month in order to encourage networking.