My Recent “Almost Trip” to Jackson, MS and the Annual Educational Conference of the Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL)
As someone who travels frequently, I only have one criterion: get there safely. I gave up on worrying about flight delays and cancellations a long time ago. People will just have to understand—and they usually do—when you can’t get where you need to go. Such was the case with my intended trip south to lead several sessions on outreach, Big Tent Judaism, and intermarriage at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life’s education conference. But I never left the airport in Newark, NJ.
You know the story: delays prevented me from making my connection; later flights were already booked. And so I wouldn’t get to Jackson until near the end of the conference. But thankfully, the participants still wanted to hear what I had to say, and the conference organizers had the technology to set up the session remotely. So I conducted my sessions via teleconference while the participants were watching the PowerPoint slides I had prepared as an outline to enhance the words that I had to offer. Not as good as dialogue, but certainly acceptable, and better than nothing.
This effort to still have me speak despite my not being there is due to our long affectionate relationship with the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, and it is also part of our emerging partnership with them, in which we are committed to sharing our content—especially the programs of The Mothers Circle (for women of other religious backgrounds raising Jewish children) and The Grandparents Circle (for Jewish grandparents of grandchildren being raised in interfaith homes)—with those in smaller, more rural communities in the south, with similarly small Jewish communal populations.