ISJL’s rebranded Southern and Jewish conference kicks off on June 23

From the 2023 ISJL conference. SJL file.

When the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life’s annual June conference convenes near Jackson on June 23, it will have a broader focus and appeal.

For two decades, congregations using the ISJL’s standardized religious school curriculum have gone to Jackson for a couple days of forums and networking. This year, the newly-named “Southern and Jewish” conference will go beyond educators, welcoming congregational presidents, lay leaders, parents and professionals, or anyone interested in Jewish life in the South.

Over the past few years, ISJL reorganized into three main areas — Culture, Education and Spirituality. When in-person conferences resumed in 2023 following the pandemic, the conference broadened its offerings, including small-congregation resources, and content for culture and spirituality.

With the new conference, there will be offerings in each of the three areas.

Program tracks will be available for educators, those interested in enhancing their spirituality skills, cultural coordinators, and those involved in the nuts and bolts of keeping the congregational doors open.

Presenters will represent Brandeis University, Repair the World, the Association of Reform Jewish Educators and Keshet.

Vendors and exhibitors include And Thou Shalt Read, Behrman House, The Haberman Institute and the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience.

There will be a Hineinu Y’all education track, with Moving Traditions leading a session on “Jewish Teens: Thriving in Spite of Everything,” and ISJL Director of Education Molly Levy leading “Bereshit to Bluey: Creative Jewish Parenting Today.”

For congregational leaders, Michael Gutenstein will lead “How To Keep the Lights On: Creative Ways to Raise Operating Funds” with Michael Gutenstein; and Rabbi Stacy Rigler, executive director of ARJE, will lead “Supporting Small Synagogue Staffs.”

Rigler will also give one of the three keynote addresses.

Shira Muroff, ISJL director of programs, will lead the Culture Collaboration track.

Rabbi Salem Pearce, director of spirituality at ISJL, will lead minyan both mornings, and musical guests Lapidus and Myles from Atlanta will perform. Lapidus is a rabbi and the composer-in-residence at The Temple, while Myles is a soloist in the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church choir, former pulpit of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The conference will be held from noon on June 23 to noon on June 25 at the Sheraton Flowood, just east of Jackson. There is no registration fee for the conference itself, just for the hotel and meals.