Walk into any Jewish school and you’re likely to see kids studying Torah, learning to read Hebrew, singing Jewish songs and Tefilot, performing mock seders, or making challah on Friday. But what you don’t see is how much work goes into making it all run smoothly. At JEMs (Jewish Education Matters), Yossi Shuchat, his wife Rivky, and a small team of employees and volunteers provide after-school Jewish education programs to children in Sydney, Australia. Since May 2011, they’ve been growing quickly, providing classes, bar mitzvah training, and volunteer opportunities to hundreds of kids in their community.
Keeping track of the students, parents, and volunteers is no easy task. “A lot of Chabad houses are shul-based,” says Yossi. “(We’re) managing a very complex organization, because we are interacting with hundreds of kids a week that come on different days, have different needs, etc.”
“When we started out, everything was simply on spreadsheets”, Yossi continues. Every process had lots of manual steps, leaving room for mistakes to creep in. After years of having to send out 300 confirmation emails manually, or shuffle endlessly through his files to track student progress through their program, Yossi decided it was time for a better, less time-consuming solution.
Given the unique challenges and circumstances of his organization, a traditional CMS wasn’t a good fit. With a huge number of tasks and demands put on his small team, only a custom solution could help. This solution would have to streamline the schools many varied administrative tasks and cut down on the repetitive processes. Luckily, he learned about Chabad Suite’s customizable CRM.
Working with Chabad Suite’s experts, Yossi was able to explain what JEMs needed the CMS to do, and within days had a working prototype to test. “We didn’t go through a traditional process of investigating and mapping out the site - we hit the road running and developed as we went along. Chabad Suite didn’t need too many details of what they were going to do. I could just say what I was trying to accomplish and they were able to come back with a product and collect feedback.”
The result: a custom CRM that helps this small team do far more than they were able to do before with limited resources. Features included: custom dashboards for volunteers log into and track their hours, automated SMS confirmation messages to parents and volunteers, progress tracking for children’s progress reading Hebrew, and streamlined sign-up pages for parents. “We were collecting so much data from people many times over,“ explains Yossi. ”Now I tell people to enroll one time into the system and you’re in. You never have to give the details to us again! ”
The results were incredible. Not only is JEM’s more organized and efficient than ever, but the data they collect and track helps them give their students better attention. By being able to do more with less, Yossi and his team have been able to grow without the added expense of hiring more employees. “...it helps us keep our team managed, responsive, and available. The fact that we don’t have to hire more people saves us money and we also have a better result,” says Yossi.
Today, thanks to Chabad Suite’s custom CRM, even more of the “precious gems” of Sydney’s Jewish community are learning to love being Jewish. Whether through the school, teen volunteer program, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Discovery Course, Friday Night Service, or Jewish Holiday programs JEMs’ warm community allows them to connect with their Judaism in a non-judgmental, happy and innovative environment. JEMs continues to grow, expanding its facilities, and upholding its standards of excellence and professionalism in Jewish education.