The current JTA article “Supermarket Aisles Filled With Outreach Groups Before Passover” shows how a growing number of communities around the country are embracing JOI’s PASSOVER IN THE AISLES model to reach unaffiliated Jews in public spaces.
“If we wait for people to come to programs within the four walls of our communal institutions, we’ll be waiting a long time,” says Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute, which provides guidance for such programs. “This is an attempt to bring Judaism to where people are.”
The article discusses the J-Link program in Columbus, Ohio, which JOI helped encourage the community to initiate, and with whom we continue to share best practices and ideas:
In its three years of outreach programs at Passover and Chanukah, for which J-Link volunteers go to toy and pet stores, Folkerth estimates they’ve collected 1,000 names of local unaffiliated Jews.
Those who want to be contacted are called, and many have subsequently showed up at other synagogue or JCC events. A survey last year found that 90 percent “feel more connected to the Jewish community because of J-Link,” she reports.
These hard numbers are proof of the methodology. And as more communities take on the challenge of Public Space Judaism, we will see even more such proof. This is all part of creating ramps into Judaism for those who would like to join us but find too few accessible entryways. If you see a table in your local matzah aisle, please stop by and say hello!