Over the course of the year, the Jewish Federation of Rockland County has studied attitudes towards synagogues in Rockland by commissioning the Jewish Rockland 2015 study. The purpose of this study is to illustrate the landscape of the Rockland County Board of Rabbis community, point to our challenges and make recommendations to address them.
The final report of the Jewish Rockland 2015 study is now available to the public. The report, written by Dr. David Elcott and Stuart Himmelfarb of B3/The Jewish Boomer Platform and the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, details the findings from the two surveys performed during the study (one of the Rockland County Board of Rabbis synagogues, and one of the larger Rockland community). While there are too many findings to report in a short article, some stand out, specifically:
- Jewish involvement in Rockland is more episodic and informal than in the past
- Overall synagogue membership is declining over time
- There is a large gap in perception between synagogue leadership and the overall public
In response to this, the authors call for our synagogues to “examine bold approaches… It is crucial that communications, programs and mission statements be based on a broader reading of people’s goals, interests, priorities and willingness to be connected” and that “efforts at reconnecting are warranted and potentially promising”. The report goes on to suggest ideas for consideration including para-Rabbinic positions, volunteer coalitions, social initiatives, inter-generational projects and shaking up existing financial models.