Frequently Asked Questions About Big Tent Judaism
What is Big Tent Judaism?
Big Tent Judaism is an approach to Jewish community that takes its lead from the values and vision of our Biblical forbearers Abraham and Sarah's tent, which was open on four sides to welcome all who approach. Individuals and organizations that practice a Big Tent Judaism seek to engage, support and advocate for all those who would cast their lot with the Jewish people, regardless of prior knowledge or background.
What is the need for Big Tent Judaism?
At any given time, only about 35% of American Jews are affiliated with Jewish institutions, and of those, even fewer participate regularly. Big Tent Judaism will help connect unengaged and unaffiliated Jews, as well as those from the periphery of the community, including many intermarried households, to Jewish institutions by helping member institutions open their doors and actively welcome in all who choose to cast their lot with the Jewish people.
What is the Big Tent Judaism Coalition?
The Big Tent Judaism Coalition is a movement of Jewish communal institutions who strive to fulfill the ten principles of Big Tent Judaism (see below) in order to better create an inclusive and welcoming Jewish community, and who are willing to work toward the Coalition's goals through partnership, communication, and advocacy.
The goals of the Big Tent Judaism Coalition are to:
- Connect individuals and households not currently engaging with the organized Jewish community to local institutions that will be welcoming toward them through inclusive and meaningful programs;
- Provide professionals and lay leaders at Jewish institutions a unified voice across organizational and denominational lines to advocate for greater inclusiveness, while disseminating the skills and sensitivities needed to become a more welcoming community.
What are the Ten Principles of Big Tent Judaism? (Read them here)
To facilitate the goals of Big Tent Judaism, the Jewish Outreach Institute has articulated ten principles that will serve as a framework for a coalition of Jewish communal institutions that desire to be open and welcoming to all who approach. The principles will help Jewish institutions reach and serve all Jewish households -- including the majority at any given time that are not participating in Jewish communal life.
The ten principles include: Welcome All Newcomers; Celebrate Diversity; Offer "Free Samples"; Deepen Jewish Engagement; Provide Quality "Customer Service"; Lower Barriers to Participation; Increase Points of Access; Create Partnerships; Enlist Active Members for Outreach; and Better Best Practices. (Please click here) for a detailed description of the principles.
What are the benefits of becoming a member of the Big Tent Judaism Coalition?
Membership has a number of benefits:
- Member organizations will be posted in a national, online directory of inclusive and welcoming Jewish organizations to help newcomers find you;
- Member organizations will have the opportunity to network and join with other organizations that support the goals of Big Tent Judaism and are committed to advocating for an inclusive Jewish community;
- Members will receive an "All Are Welcome" decal to post at the entrance to their institution indicating their membership in the coalition;
- Professionals from your organization will be eligible for one free outreach consultation and national networking through the Jewish Outreach Institute;
- Members will have access to outreach resources, including best practices and fundraising assistance for inclusive programming from the Jewish Outreach Institute.
What are my organization's responsibilities as a member of the Big Tent Judaism Coalition?
As a member of the Big Tent Judaism Coalition, your organization is responsible for fulfilling the ten principles of Big Tent Judaism and advocating for an inclusive Jewish community. While your institution may not be able to fulfill all of the principles at this time, your inclusion in the coalition acknowledges your willingness to work toward the fulfillment of these principles in the work of your institution.
Who coordinates the Big Tent Judaism Coalition?
The Coalition is coordinated by the Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI), an independent, national organization that works to open hearts, minds, and doors into the Jewish community for all who would cast their lot with ours, including interfaith couples and families, Jews-by-choice, and unaffiliated and unengaged Jews. Visit www.JOI.org to learn more about JOI's programs and methodology.
How can my organization become a member of the Big Tent Judaism Coalition? (Sign up here)
In order to become a member of the Coalition, your organization must agree and commit to implementing the ten principles of Big Tent Judaism by completing the online form here. You may also contact Paul Golin, Associate Executive Director of the Jewish Outreach Institute (sponsor of the coalition), at PGolin@JOI.org or 212.760.1440, to indicate your interest in Big Tent Judaism or if you have any questions.
What does it cost to become a member of the Big Tent Judaism Coalition?
There is no cost to become a member of the Coalition.
What's happening now?
Click Here to discover the latest advocacy initiatives and resoureces currently available to members of the Big Tent Judaism Coalition.