A Chicago-area synagogue looking to increase membership has taken a largely unheard of turn in the U.S. worship world and has reached out to traditional and social media to attract congregants, according to an article in last month’s New York Times. Conservative synagogue, Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah, in Wilmette, Ill. has invested approximately $10,000 and bought print ads, posters, a website Facebook ads and started a Facebook page.
Using an ad that states at the top “We’re Not Perfect” followed by “What family is?” and a print ad with paper intentionally meant to be crumbled, the creative guy behind the ad and congregant Tom Ungar strived for honesty in advertising and wanting to treat people with intelligence.
Membership at the formerly 650 unit family members was down to about 570 singles and families. Congregation president Arlene Gold saw competition for new members as “fierce” and looked to advertising for a membership boost.
“We’re getting members, young members,”said Gold. “I am very happy. And we’ve received several calls from executive directors of other synagogues, and calls from other tuition institutions,” Gold added, seeking information about the campaign.
Although the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey found the Conservative movement to be the largest Jewish denomination in the U.S. with 43 percent of affiliated Jewish households, that figure plunged to 33 percent in 2000, according to an February 2011 article in the The Jewish Week. This number has continued to decline.