A synagogue social justice book club is a great way to explore relevant, pressing societal issues. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Finding Members: Your book club can consist of members from all areas of congregational life. Consider inviting the Sisterhood, Brotherhood, religious school parents, interfaith committee or social action committee member. Or, if your congregation already runs a book club, consider using one of the RAC Reads book guides next month!
Advertising: Place a message in your congregation's newsletter, post flyers in prominent places in your synagogue and make an announcement from the bimah. Of course, don't forget word-of-mouth (it usually works best!). You could even consider raffling a copy of the book to spark some interest.
Setting the Date: Plan ahead. The first date should be far enough in advance that people have time to purchase and read the book. To increase participation, set a few dates in the calendar so people can plan ahead. Be strategic - if you're interested in attracting parents, consider meeting during religious school hours.
Location: Think about where would be most appealing/easiest for your community when choosing a location. Book clubs can be held anywhere - at the synagogue, in a congregant's homes, at a local coffee shop or restaurant or even in a park!
Meeting: At the beginning of each meeting, review the "ground rules." These rules should acknowledge individuals' time, diversity of opinions and base of knowledge. Make sure that everyone has a chance to speak and prevent one person from dominating the conversation. Consider taking turns leading the discussion as a recruitment tool and a way to provide leadership opportunities to different community members. Oh, and don't forget the treats!
Wrap-Up: What differentiates a social justice book club from all others? Action, of course! You've read a book that has not only taught you about an important issue but (hopefully) inspired you to take action. Plan time into your book club meeting to discuss "next steps." Suggestions for action can be found at the end of each of the RAC Reads Book Guides. Or, pose the question, 'what can our book club- or our whole congregation - do to make a difference on this issue? Consider organizing a volunteer opportunity, make a donation or write letters to your Congressperson.