Shaare Zedek wins USCJ awards

Shaare Zedek Synagogue has won 2011 Solomon Schechter Awards from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) for two of its very successful family- and community-oriented programs. The synagogue won a Music Programming Silver Award for its Musical Ruach Am’cha (Spirit of Your People) program and a Bronze Award for its Families and Young Members DorWays program.

The 2011 Solomon Schechter awards recognize excellence in synagogue programming, organization, education and administration. The awards will be presented to Shaare Zedek and other recipients at the USCJ’s 2011 national biennial convention to be held Dec. 1-4, in La Jolla, Calif.

Ruach Am’cha at Shaare Zedek is embarking on its second year, funded by the Legacy Heritage Foundation and the Crown Family Foundation. The program’s goal is to infuse music into all aspects of congregational life, both at home and at the synagogue. Elements of the program include a link to the niggun (tune) of the month, sent to each congregant every four weeks; a talented cadre of musical ambassadors (synagogue members) available to help celebrate Shabbat in the home by bringing spirit and song to families’ Shabbat tables throughout the congregation; a Ruach Am’cha Shabbat on the second Shabbat of each month which begins with a Friday night musical service, and reaches its climax with a “Havdalah Jam” on Saturday night, complete with drumming and singing. The program also includes an inter-generational choir which sings at various Shaare Zedek events and services throughout the year.

The Families & Young Members DorWays program brings together Shaare Zedek’s younger members – single or married, with or without children – to plan and enjoy their own programming within the synagogue. The purpose of the group is to share a common young family life while integrating into the larger Shaare Zedek community. More than 60 Shaare Zedek families currently take part.

Activities for families with preschool and elementary school-age children include Shaare Zedek’s new Jewish Environmental Initiative. The children in early elementary school act as the primary shomrim (guardians) of the Shaare Zedek garden where they will help compost food from family and synagogue kitchens, research their carbon footprint, learn about sustainable food from a Jewish perspective and plant and tend vegetables and havdalah spices. In addition, each DorWays holiday celebration this year will in some way tie into Jewish environmentalism. The initiative is funded by a grant from the Crown Family Foundation.

Other activities planned this year include a Jam Concert and Dinner in the Sukkah with Dave Simon of Zeda’s Beat Box and Hazzan Joanna Dulkin; Simchat Torah music and dancing; a Hanukkah party, and frequent Friday Night Family Dinners and Services.

For additional information about Shaare Zedek, call 314-727-1747 or email [email protected].