So important, I believe, to keep the focus on a combination of communication and content. The Conservative Movement certainly has an image problem, but it's also a reality. If the "Come Home to Conservative Judaism" line isn't working, it's important to recognize the intent of the attempt (to generate a sense of "home") and determine if that's what we believe our shuls are called to be. And if they are that, then it's the mandate of every synagogue to take steps to live up to the dream of being someone's home.
The Hayom coalition (with which I'm proud to be counted) is dedicated to this transformation - the alignment of our movement's institutions with our spiritual ideals. Who chose the slogan? Was there an attempt to listen to those not yet connected when determining a marketing strategy? And, once the correct combination of listening and marketing is achieved, have our shuls had the time and support to be prepared for success?
Chevreh - this is an important moment, and I'm hopeful visions like Steve's are the tone we begin to generate - critical and passionate.
Btw, my vote for a catch-phrase is based on my conviction that the "Young Jews" (which is, I feel, a deeply marginalizing way of looking at a much-sought-after demographic) are seeking meaning over packaging. This is what my teacher Vicky Kelman describes as "the big gift" as opposed to the "gift-wrapping" most Jewish institutions focus on when attempting to seem more appealing. I think Rabbi Judith Hauptman's "Ethical Halacha" works best, is honest, progressive, and traditional. That's the Conservative Judaism I believe in, and the one I believe would be most compelling to those who already call our Movement home, and to those looking for a spiritual home.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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For the past year I have been seeing the slogan "Come Home to Conservative Judaism" pop up on a number of the movement's websites, mailings and publications. I have to admit I really hate this slogan and every time I see it used it makes me embarrassed to be part of the Conservative Movement. This slogan sounds both desperate and like you are on a losing team. Its message to me is that we are begging people to come home to something that was not so good that they left to start with. It also gives little thought to people who might not have been associated with conservative Judaism before to join us (a change in mindset in itself that perhaps we can even attract new people who were never Conservative Jews to join our ranks).
Given all the poor PR the Conservative Movement has this slogan in my view plays into the negativity and send the exact wrong message. This is not like the warm and fuzzy come home to the holidays that the churches use to get people in for Christmas mass. If we are honest with ourselves the general perception on the street for Jews that care about Judaism is that the Conservative Moment is in trouble and this just reinforces that view and as I noted makes us desperate showing we have nothing new and exciting to really offer.
I never, however, believe in complaining about something without a solution which is the purpose of this comment. I think we need a new slogan and a new mindset. Out with the negativity about the movement and begging people to return and in with a positive message on why you should want to be a Conservative Jew. I would like to get some suggestions from my Shefra chevra that perhaps the national office would consider using. I am not a marketing person but let me toss some suggestions into the ring to start this off and see if others from Shefra can offer different ones. Some better slogans might be along the lines of "Experience the Traditions You Love with Ruach" or "Authentic Judaism for Modern Times" or "Today's Nourish For Your Jewish Soul" – or anything else that makes us seem lively, upbeat and vibrant and cool .
As a Jewish movement right now we certainly lack the cool factor and let us all face the fact if you want to attract younger families and younger people back into the Conservative Movement it is not about pleading for them to come home but it is all about rekindling their memories of Jewish traditions, sparking their interest in their Jewish identity and traditions and being seen as being cool (tradition and change is a winning formula we just never seem to get how to market it effectively). I realized this early on when I became President of my synagogue that despite my being personally a very traditional conservative you need to be become and be seen by less observant (aka mainstream Conservative Jews and even some unaffiliated) as a synagogue that is a vibrant and energetic congregation, that is very welcoming to all, that does different and cool services and programs and were people feel they are with a winning organization (that is why BJ is so successful as they are seen as this). No one wants to come home to a losing team that in the press seems dysfunctional no matter how much we plead for them to come home. We need to change the mindset and the perception and a new slogan would certainly be a step in that direction.
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