Judaism 2.0 - A New Generation of Synagogue Websites

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With only 40% of Jewish households in the United States affiliated with a synagogue, synagogues find themselves looking for new ways to connect with their members, reach out to the unaffiliated, and build community. More and more congregations are developing new Web 2.0 sites to provide an interactive online presence. ShofarSites provides dynamic websites, based on the Joomla! content management system, for Jewish organizations.

11 Tips for a Great Synagogue Website

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In past generations, the synagogue building served as the physical, social, spiritual and educational hub of a Jewish community. Today, interactive websites are fulfilling some of those purposes and helping an increasing number of synagogues to facilitate 21st-century kinds of connections, from the rabbi to members, from members to members, from members to their Jewish faith and from the synagogue community to the larger interfaith community.

According to Tamar Schanfeld, director of Shofarsites.com, a company that specializes in creating websites for Jewish organizations, interactive features including videos, blogs, participatory forums, member pages, audio downloads, newsletter subscriptions, community calendars and newsfeeds, along with the ability to accept online donations and membership payments, all become manageable for the typical synagogue because of a content management system that requires little or no technical knowledge to update.

The company works with clients in New York State, California and throughout New England, representing a range of denominations.

"With the sites we create, the Rabbi can provide his Dvar Torah, his weekly talk on the Torah portion, online either as text or a podcast," says Schanfeld. "The Hebrew School can list special events and enable parents to register their children for it. Teenagers, who often drift away from congregations after their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, can connect with each other on the site's teen forum. Congregation members and their extended family can come to the site and check Yahrzeit dates or when the candle lighting should take place on Friday night."

Schanfeld notes that Shofarsites.com is the only company specializing in interactive websites for synagogues using the Joomla! content management platform. With very little training, volunteers and staff members can easily upload, delete or change documents, pictures and other content on the synagogue website.

"Congregation Adath Israel in Middleton, Connecticut told us that the website we created for them was a tremendous asset in their successful recruitment of a new rabbi," adds Schanfeld, "while Congregation Beth El in Norwalk, Connecticut is getting donations through their site." Beth El's site, created by Shofarsites.com, won a 2009 Solomon Schechter Silver Award from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for excellence in the website category.

Synagogue packages from Shofarsites.com start at $2,500. The company provides a free initial consultation upon request and a free report, "11 Tips for a Great Synagogue Website," at http://www.shofarsites.com.

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Tamar Schanfeld
413-425-1499 ext. 2
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