As one attendee of JOI’s just-concluded conference wrote on her evaluation form: “Wow.” Another told me that he’d been attending Jewish conferences for over 20 years and that Sunday’s program was the single-best day of any conference he’d ever been to.
After almost ten months of preparation, and weeks of non-stop work leading up to these past three days in Washington DC, the JOI staff is extremely gratified at the positive feedback we’ve received and thankful to the hundreds of Jewish communal professionals and lay leaders who traveled from as far as Australia to join us. And we’re ready to recommit ourselves to the promise we made to them: this is just the beginning.
Sue Fishkoff writes in her JTA article about the conference, “Outreach advocates unveil coalition at confab, set to launch new initiatives“:
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky has been urging the Jewish community to be more welcoming to intermarried and unaffiliated families for the past 20 years. Now the executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute and his New York-based organization seem poised for a major breakthrough….
The institute has made a big push in the past two years to get outreach on top of the Jewish agenda….
These projects require funders who believe in outreach, Olitzky noted, as well as communal organizations willing to give up their private fiefdoms and work together. More and more Jewish communities have bought into the outreach agenda.
Have we reached the “tipping point”? Still too early to tell, but as the article mentions, a highlight of the conference was the launch of BigTentJudaism.org, which we hope to build as the venue for communal professionals and lay leaders to come together around welcoming newcomers, as well as linking up newcomers to the organizations that will be welcoming to them. It’s just a skeleton site right now, but with the conference over we will be able to dedicate more of our time and resources to make that vision a reality.
Here are some photos from the conference… (more…)