The Afikomen Postcard Project: A Case Study of Teen Engagement and Staff Collaboration

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The way to children’s hearts is through their stomachs. That’s what staff at Temple Beth-El in Rochester, New York realized as they were brainstorming ideas for teen engagement. After a community-wide meeting about the topic, Rabbi Leonardo Bitran returned to his synagogue eager to collaborate with his team and come up with a creative engagement strategy.

After he spoke individually with the synagogue’s executive director and its religious school director, the need for teen engagement was brought to a weekly professional staff meeting for further discussion. The staff reached a consensus that they wanted to let teens know that Beth El was thinking about them, to open a line of communication with them and to inspire positive awareness about the congregation through a short-term project while staff members developed other programming and a deeper personal connection with their teens. The team decided the outreach would be in the form of a postcard, a nice change of pace for teens that primarily communicate through texting and digital messaging

With Passover was coming up, the synagogue’s Marketing and Program Coordinator, Jessie Atkin, was tasked with developing an afikomen themed card. The synagogue collaborated with a local kosher bakery to create a postcard that read, “You’ve found the afikomen! Good for two brownies at Malek’s bakery.” Not only would this let teens know that the synagogue was thinking of them, it would drive families to the only kosher bakery in town.

The synagogue sent out 100 postcards and about a quarter of them were redeemed. Deborah Zeger, Beth El’s executive director, explained the project was a win-win for both Beth El and the bakery. “We got positive feedback from parents with many saying they thought it was a great idea and Malek’s bakery sold a lot of brownies!”

Continued Zeger, “It was one of the projects that I’m most proud of, since I’ve been here, in terms of team collaboration.”

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