Large numbers of Jews are not affiliated with a congregation or, if affiliated, are not active in congregational life.
At the same time, many of them, with virtually no supportive community, experience pressures in their daily livessuch as economic uncertainty, self-destructive behavior by their children, and overwhelming job demandsand the temples and synagogues are largely irrelevant to those pressures.
In regard to their pressures, congregants and unaffiliated Jews may be said to experience a lack of confidence. They may not believe that they, their congregations, Judaism, or even God have any power to deal with the absence of community in their lives or the day-to-day pressures that affect them.
Make the synagogue a supportive community that is relevant to the pressures and hopes in the daily lives of its members. Gather members to deepen their relationships and to do mitzvot (biblically commanded good deeds) that will help to relieve their pressures, fulfill their hopes, and restore their confidence in the synagogue.
Multiply leaders and mitzvottrain leaders to be gatherers of other leaders and to create openings for many members of their congregations to build community and do mitzvot together that will change conditions both within the congregation and in the larger community.
Gather the People (GTP) offers training and education in congregational community organizing, including an introductory three-day Family Shabbaton Plus, which includes tools for ongoing congregational development. GTP programs are designed to train leaders to serve as gatherers who will support and challenge congregants in building community and doing mitzvot together.
The foundation of GTP's approach is community-building, which requires increasing and strengthening relationships among members. The objective is for members to come to know one another as they might have 50 or 75 years ago if they had lived in the same neighborhood.
The second step in the GTP approach is congregation-building, which requires increasing participation and membership. The objective is to strengthen the capacity of the congregation to be relevant to the pressures in the lives of its members, the lives of unaffiliated Jews in the area, and the lives of members of the larger, non-Jewish community.
Three key elements suffuse the GTP community- and congregation-building processes:
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