Congregation B’nai Israel of Bridgeport is one of 16 Reform congregations in North America selected to participate in a new initiative called Reimagining Congregational Education, launched by the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Community of Practice. A joint effort between the Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE) and the URJ, the Reimagining Congregation Educaiton Community of Practice (CoP) is a congregational networking group for Reform congregations that seeks new ways to innovate and experiment in congregational education.
By participating in this initiative, B’nai Israel will have the opportunity to meet with leaders from congregations with common interests to share ideas and experiment with new strategies. The congregation will also have access to the URJ’s professional staff and expert consultants, some of the most renowned thought leaders in their fields.
“Our congregation has been a part of the greater Bridgeport area since 1859,” said the congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi James Prosnit. “But that does not mean we always do things the way we have always done them. Jewish learning at B’nai Israel has been and will continue to be vital, innovative and engaging. Our temple educator, Ira Wise, and our Religious School Vision Team applied to join the Reimagining Congregational Education CoP because it is a logical next step to a project of growth and innovation that has been ongoing.”
“Across North America, people hunger for real connections. They want – they need – to be part of meaningful communities,” said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. “The URJ communities of practice will give Reform congregations opportunities to work together, take risks, explore new ideas, innovate and have unprecedented access to top experts.”
The 16 congregations in the Reimagining Congregational Education Community of Practice will work together for 18 months. Participating congregations will receive guidance from peers and advisors to experiment in their own communities, create congregational innovations, and garner skills that will benefit all areas of congregational life. There will be monthly virtual gatherings and e-learning opportunities. In addition, congregations will receive coaching, support, and consultation to support the planning and implementation of educational experiments. Results of these strategic experiments will be shared with congregations outside the Community of Practice and with the Reform Movement at large.