Your Voice, Our Future


Thriving Synagogue Learning Tool and Survey FAQ

1. Who developed the Thriving Synagogue Learning Tool (TSLT)?

UJA-Federation of New York contracted with the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University (CMJS) to develop TSLT. The Brandeis team is led by Dr. Amy L. Sales, Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director of CMJS. In her 25 years at the University, she has conducted in-depth studies in more than 100 congregations throughout the United States, focusing primarily on how synagogues evolve and change.

2. What are the benefits to our synagogue?

  • A report with the synagogue’s profile of thriving.
  • A data share meeting with synagogue leadership and SYNERGY professionals to understand and discuss the profile of thriving.
  • A means to identify areas that merit appreciation and celebration as well as areas that call for planning and action.
  • Expert coaching in applying results to plans and action.
  • Analyses that show differences in the perceptions of different groups–by age, years of membership, and position (e.g., leaders versus members).

3. What is a “thriving synagogue”?

A thriving synagogue is vital and alive. It is imbued with a sense of purpose, activity and energy. Members and participants feel a commitment to and affection for the congregational community, the synagogue, and the Jewish life and learning it fosters. The Thriving Synagogue Learning Tool (TSLT) measures the extent to which a synagogue is thriving in key areas of congregational life.

4. How is thriving measured?

TSLT has three components: congregation survey, board survey, and synagogue fact sheet.

  • The congregation survey draws a portrait of our synagogue from the point of view of our members. Internal comparisons show how different groups of people view the synagogue. For example, results may compare perceptions of leaders with those of congregants or the views of long-time members with those of newer members.
  • The board survey is concerned with board practices and policies. Questions for board members are embedded in the congregation survey but are seen only by current board members.
  • The synagogue fact sheet asks about Ansche Chesed operations and includes questions about membership, budget, staff, and synagogue practices. It is filled out by one or more leaders in the congregation (e.g., executive director, bookkeeper, head of budget committee, president) who can access the required information.