Becoming a Congregation of Learners: Learning as a Key to Revitalizing Congregational Life

Becoming a Congregation of Learners: Learning as a Key to Revitalizing Congregational Life

by Isa Aron
     
 

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How can my congregation transform itself? How can we re-dedicate ourselves to learning?

Improving spiritual connection in our communities takes work! Combining expert advice and experience garnered from congregations throughout North America, Becoming a Congregation of Learners shows us how transformative change is possible. A complete

Overview

How can my congregation transform itself? How can we re-dedicate ourselves to learning?

Improving spiritual connection in our communities takes work! Combining expert advice and experience garnered from congregations throughout North America, Becoming a Congregation of Learners shows us how transformative change is possible. A complete resource full of ideas, information and support, this is a guide for those of us involved in, or interested in, energizing our spiritual communities.

Isa Aron, director of Hebrew Union College's Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE), offers concrete, practical information on how to bring about change and revitalization, and helps us make learning a vibrant, integral part of congregational life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Ultimately, synagogue transformation depends on, and leads to, personal transformation of individuals…. This book is a service to congregations who dare to think differently; who have faith enough to face the future; and who see the synagogue as the institutionalization of the covenant between God and Israel."
—from the Foreword by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, co-developer, Synagogue 2000
“Must reading. Since Sinai, the study of Torah has been the burning incandescent passion of the Jew. In this wonderful book, Isa Aron tells us how the synagogue can encourage every Jew, young and old, to embrace Jewish learning, and how Torah study can be made the foundation of synagogue life.”
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president, Union of American Hebrew Congregations

“Isa Aron has written an insightful and important book about the challenges and opportunities of synagogue transformation.... A must-read for anyone in a leadership position in congregations!”
Dr. Ron Wolfson, Vice-President, University of Judaism in Los Angeles; author of The Art of Jewish Living Series

“A thorough examination of what it takes to become a real 'community of learners.' Aron gives us not only the whys but also the hows, not only the vision but also the tools to implement it.”
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, rabbinic director of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning; editor of The Women’s Haftarah Commentary

“A skillful blend of educational theory and illuminating examples make the case powerfully: the more Torah, the more life.”
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, president-elect, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association,
co-author of Judaism for Two: A Spiritual Guide for Strengthening and Celebrating Your Loving Relationship

CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism

Isa Aron, Becoming a Congregation of Learners. Jewish Lights, 2002. This volume can be viewed as a companion publication to Rabbi Jacobs' book on social action. The author is a prominent educator on the faculty of the Los Angeles branch of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. It is the product of an 8- year experiment in congregational education, a project HUC-JIR designed to study how congregants of all ages are engaged in Jewish learning, and then on developing concrete practices that will help congregational leaders insure that serious Jewish learning can flower in American synagogues. The forward by Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, codeveloper of Synagogue 2000 (now Synagogue 3000), integrates this material, specifically directed to learning, into the rest of the Synagogue 3000 program. Both this and Rabbi Jacobs’ book address central challenges facing our congregations. Professor Aron has assembled a rich treasury of vignettes out of her years of experience, together with how precisely congregations can avoid the pitfalls that are almost inevitable in projects of this kind. We must be grateful to the publisher, Jewish Lights, for both volumes.

Jewish Media Review - Dov Peretz Elkins

Professor Aron is a distinguished educator at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's Rhea Hirsch School of Education in Los Angeles, where she directs the Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE). Along with another volume, The Self-Renewing Congregation: Organizational Strategies for Revitalizing Congregational Life, this book constitutes part of the series of "Synagogue 2000," headed by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman. The materials produced by this project were created in a collaborative venture with Jewish Lights Publishing. Its aim is, as expressed by Rabbi Sid Schwartz, is to deepen the commitment of members and reach out to new constituencies.

In her outstanding and useful manual for making the synagogue into a community of learners, Prof. Aron helps synagogue leaders assess their congregation’s readiness for change, form the community into teams to help to process unfold, study Jewish texts together (texts and lesson plans are included in the book), agree on a collective vision, and plan for strategic achievements. Included also are real-life examples and advice from synagogues across North America that are working toward becoming congregations of learners. We have here a transformative guidebook, an outstanding piece of work that every serious synagogue should take advantage of.

CJ Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism

Isa Aron, Becoming a Congregation of Learners. Jewish Lights, 2002. This volume can be viewed as a companion publication to Rabbi Jacobs' book on social action. The author is a prominent educator on the faculty of the Los Angeles branch of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. It is the product of an 8- year experiment in congregational education, a project HUC-JIR designed to study how congregants of all ages are engaged in Jewish learning, and then on developing concrete practices that will help congregational leaders insure that serious Jewish learning can flower in American synagogues. The forward by Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, codeveloper of Synagogue 2000 (now Synagogue 3000), integrates this material, specifically directed to learning, into the rest of the Synagogue 3000 program. Both this and Rabbi Jacobs’ book address central challenges facing our congregations. Professor Aron has assembled a rich treasury of vignettes out of her years of experience, together with how precisely congregations can avoid the pitfalls that are almost inevitable in projects of this kind. We must be grateful to the publisher, Jewish Lights, for both volumes.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580230896
Publisher:
Jewish Lights Publishing
Publication date:
11/01/2000
Series:
Revitalizing Congregational Life Series
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Isa Aron, PhD, is professor of Jewish education at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion's Rhea Hirsch School of Education. Founder and former director of the Experiment in Congregational Education (ECE), she now serves as senior consultant. She holds a PhD in philosophy of education from the University of Chicago, and her writing on education and congregational renewal has appeared in such journals as the American Journal of Education, Tikkun and the Journal of Reform Judaism. She is also author of Becoming a Congregation of Learners: Learning as a Key to Revitalizing Congregational Life and The Self-renewing Congregation: Organizational Stragegies for Revitalizing Congregational Life.

Isa Aron, PhD, is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Synagogue Change (or Synagogue Renewal)
  • Jewish Education
  • Moral Education

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD, has served for more than three decades as professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. He is a world-renowned liturgist and holder of the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship and Ritual. His work combines research in Jewish ritual, worship and spirituality with a passion for the spiritual renewal of contemporary Judaism.

His many books, written and edited, include seven volumes in the Prayers of Awe series: Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un'taneh Tokef; All These Vows—Kol Nidre; We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism—Ashamnu and Al Chet; May God Remember: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism—Yizkor; All the World: Universalism, Particularism and the High Holy Days; Naming God: Avinu MalkeinuOur Father, Our King; and Encountering God: El Rachum V'chanun—God Merciful and Gracious. Hoffman also edited the ten-volume series My People's Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; and coedited My People’s Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award (all Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Hoffman cofounded and developed Synagogue 2/3000, a transdenominational project to envision and implement the ideal synagogue of the spirit for the twenty-first century. In that capacity, he wrote Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life (Jewish Lights).

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