There are over 70 congregations in Greater Toronto. This first Dashboard includes metrics from 16 congregations, including three of the GTA’s largest synagogues. This data represents only a small part of the whole picture. Future iterations of the Dashboard will ideally include data for more congregations.
Why is this important?
Historically, synagogues have served as an important centre of Jewish community activity. For many, they are the primary focus of their Jewish lives. Congregations serve as a focal point of Judaism and a place where a Jew can be actively, and comfortably Jewish. Synagogues are where we go to pray as a community, connect with God, learn about Jewish subjects, teach Judaism to our children, and celebrate holidays.
What are the trends?
Membership amongst reporting congregations has been relatively stable over the past year, decreasing by 119 members from 9,998 in 2014 to 9,879 in 2015, a slight change of -1%.
In North America, synagogues are not typically part of the community-wide Federation network of agencies and institutions. In this sense, the inclusion of congregations in a Federation-powered Dashboard itself is new. While some congregations are part of a denomination-linked structure such as United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Union for Reform Judaism, or the Orthodox Union, many are independent. The inclusion of congregations is a statement about the importance of congregations as contributors to the quality of Jewish life in the Greater Toronto Area. Congregations need to be a partner in the development and implementation of strategies for Jewish engagement. It is in the interest of the entire community that congregations flourish.
How are we doing?
Looking at these metrics together, there are some negatives and some positives (Again, for a small subset of congregations). In 2015, there were more funerals (290) than weddings (106). On the other hand there were more Bar/Bat mitzvahs (372) than funerals (290).