What happens when a generation of Jews remains disinterested in synagogue life? Is there a way to attract adults without families to a traditional service? How can synagogues adapt and begin to better accommodate the needs of Americans who are increasingly choosing to live life “going solo”? Considering the recent trends in marriage rates and child-rearing (e.g. marriage being delayed in life, a rise in cohabitation rather than marriage, and the raising of fewer children), synagogues, which in many ways are so bound to the religious school model, need to reevaluate how they interact, appeal, and reach adults of the Millennial generation. While they have done well integrating families with young children (e.g. Tot Shabbat services, kids leading Adon Olam, parenting programs, etc.), synagogues are much less likely to appeal to younger adults who are still navigating their career paths, love lives, new cities, and the economic realties of our depressed economy.
So, what can synagogues do to reach the adults who are living alone, and who are interacting through social networks – virtual and not? When a generation is taking longer to buy homes and buy cars (or not doing so at all!) and is instead attaching status to phones, is there something a synagogue can do to harness such a cultural shift? When being connected does not rely upon getting into your car to go meet people in order to feel a part of the community, what should a synagogue be doing? Should synagogues be streaming their services, as has become increasingly possible? Should synagogues be tweeting one-liners from sermons? Will shaking up the traditional service with technology be the answer?