JRC Mission Statement
JRC is a diverse, participatory, and sacred community dedicated to a daring, deeply-rooted Judaism.
A mission statement is a one sentence statement describing the reason an organization exists. It does not need to include a list of our specific goals or a description of every value we hold dear. By definition, it is what drives us. Who are we, and what is foundational to our larger purpose? That – and that alone — is what went into our mission statement.
While many mission statements begin with “To…” or “We foster/strive for/offer,” we found several that begin simply with “(name of organization) is.” This felt active, defining, and more grounded in the congregation as a whole rather than seeming to diminish ownership to the Board.
We struggled to find a better word that would define us as not only welcoming but an active home to people of all skin colors, abilities, nationalities, sexual orientations, family types, ages and gender expressions. Other words that came up seemed inappropriate: inclusive, multicultural, affirming, multifaceted. Though this word is overused, we could find nothing that touched on the concept similarly. It is important that we refer to the community as already diverse, not “seeking” diversity.
Our bottom-up, lay leader focused, democratic process is hard to define in one word (we just used three and it seems hardly enough!). That process is, however, something that lies at the heart of what makes JRC unique. We felt that “participatory” covered lay leadership as well as all the other ways in which members are engaged through services, choir, tikkun olam, etc. We considered other terms – engaging, collective, connected – but this felt the most universal.
Every week, Rabbi Weiss reminds guests at Saturday morning services that the community we have is our strength. “Showing up” for each other is what makes this place sacred, even for those who feel conflicted or disconnected from the rituals of traditional practice. We were deliberate in putting the word “sacred” in front of the word “community” and not in front of the word “Judaism.”
Nu? Do we even need to explain this one?
We tried a lot of words in this spot. We tried “that fosters,” but what synagogue doesn’t do that? We tried “that offers,” “that engages in/with” and “that practices.” Some seemed too anticipatory (because we already do this), some seemed too hands-off, and some just didn’t feel strong enough. Dedication felt like the best way to express the way we do what comes next.
We love the Reconstructing Judaism tagline “Deeply Rooted. Boldly Relevant.” We wanted to express both the boldness that we share with the movement and the edginess with which JRC is constantly identified. In our own community, we are doing things first, before other congregations may come to the same decisions. This is more than bold; it’s brave. It’s who we are. It also sounds great with “deeply rooted.”
In a not-subtle nod to our movement’s tagline, we wanted to be clear that our Judaism comes from our history and forms our foundation. Every other word or phrase we tried – traditional, sacred, ritual – seemed not as perfect as what Reconstructing Judaism so beautifully phrased.
As a synagogue community, we felt that we did need to explicitly mention the faith practiced here. That said, it felt very important that we use the noun (Judaism) as opposed to describing our congregants using the adjective (Jewish). Our community is richer for having members of many faiths and practices, and so it is not that our community is Jewish, but the thing which we practice is Judaism.