Guide to synagogue-changing programs

Starting with 16 congregations around the country, S2K is now working with 11 synagogues in the Denver-Boulder area and five in the Washington area. It is about to start working with groups of synagogues in suburban Detroit and New York as well as a national group of 18 Reform temples.


A project of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's education school, ECE has worked with 14 Reform temples since 1992. As with S2K, ECE congregations form teams of lay leaders and clergy who study together and develop a vision for improving the synagogue.

ECE encourages congregations to make education central to all synagogue activities rather than simply a function of the religious school. The project is no longer working directly with synagogues and is instead putting together a series of books about synagogue transformation and is developing a Web site to help congregations start transformation processes.


A philanthropic partnership of mega-donors Charles Schusterman, Michael Steinhardt and Edgar Bronfman, STAR will invest several million dollars in efforts to reinvigorate synagogue life, promote public awareness of synagogues and advocate Jewish federations and other charities to increase synagogue funding.

Founded in December 1999, STAR unveiled late last week plans to award $500,000 per year in challenge grants for "innovative approaches" to synagogue issues such as membership, leadership, staffing, education and worship services.

Additionally, its founders say they will create a program to train synagogue consultants and convene meetings for congregational leaders from all denominations, and use new technology such as videoconferencing and the Internet to offer professional development courses for rabbis.