Congregational Engagement

We are proud to feature news from our alumni working at congregations around North America. Do you have a creative program or initiative you are especially proud of or an event that really brought the community together? Contact us at

Congregational engagement group of people
Jewish Humor

Temple Isaiah, Fulton, MD - February 2022

Last fall, Rabbi Craig Axler ‘03 of Temple Isaiah taught an adult education course entitled “A Serious, and Seriously Funny, Exploration of Jewish Humor” with over 100 participants, both in person and over Zoom. Rabbi Axler had previously taught an elective on Jewish humor to the high school students at his congregation and decided to adapt it for an adult audience. Everyone enjoyed the uplifting opportunity to laugh and learn together!

Antiracism Task Force

Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX - February 2022

The Within Our Walls and Beyond: Antiracism Task Force launched at Temple Emanu-El Dallas in October 2020 and is comprised of 16 Temple members. The Task Force met monthly for one year and conducted a deep analysis of all Temple Emanu-El activities, departments, procedures, and structures through a lens of racial reconciliation, healing, and anti-racism.

Syrian Refugees

Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley, MA - January 2022

In 2017, Temple Beth Elohim worked with Jewish Family Services JFS of Metrowest to welcome two Syrian refugee families to their community. This year, their Refugee Resettlement Team, which has more than doubled in size, is again working with JFS to help Afghan families in need of assistance.


Temple Emanu-El, Sarasota, FL - December 2021

During his Kol Nidre sermon at Temple Emanu-El in Sarasota, FL, Associate Rabbi Michael Shefrin ‘16 preached about the importance of talking openly about and destigmatizing mental health. As part of the sermon, he bravely opened up about his own battle with depression and anxiety – a stunning disclosure, especially as he is known in the community for his happy, sunny personality.

Temple Sholom

Temple Sholom of West Essex, Cedar Grove, New Jersey - December 2021

Early in the pandemic, Temple Sholom of West Essex in Cedar Grove, New Jersey created The Passport Program. Even though people couldn’t physically travel anywhere, that didn’t mean they couldn’t experience new places virtually. Armed only with their virtual passports and charged laptops, they went on fascinating excursions to China, Russia, Africa, India, South America, South Africa, Europe, and Israel with experienced tour guides.

CBE Simchat Torah

Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn, NY - November 2021

This year, Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, NY celebrated their 10th annual Simchat Torah Across Brooklyn, a borough-wide, pluralistic Jewish collaboration which CBE started and coordinates every year. Hundreds of people of all ages gather in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza for an evening of dancing, singing, and celebration.

Emanu El

Congregation Emanu El, Houston, TX - November 2021

To complement online-only children’s services during the High Holy Days, Congregation Emanu El in Houston, TX hosted an outdoor High Holy Day Family Experience. Designed for families with children in second grade or younger, Emanu El headed to Hermann Park in the heart of the city (and not far from the synagogue) for an event that included a PJ Library Story Walk™…

Beth Israel

Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, CA - October 2021

Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock wanted to make their Rosh Hashanah Seder inclusive for people with dietary restrictions. To do so, they created a homemade “vegan blessings box.” Rabbi Jason Rosner ‘15 shared more about it: “The box contained all of the food for making the blessings. The traditional fish head was substituted with cauliflower (which also has head shapes)…

City Shul

City Shul, Toronto, ON - October 2021

City Shul in Toronto, ON took a creative approach to this year’s High Holidays. Rabbi Elyse Goldstein ‘83 shares: “Imagine the farmer’s market come alive on the second day of Rosh Hashanah – not with vendors, but with the sound of klezmer music, Avinu Malkenu, and a surround-sound shofar blowing with five different shofarot placed strategically around the perimeter…”