It’s no secret that the role of the synagogue has changed dramatically in recent years. While synagogues still play a central role in a number of Jewish communities, they now compete with an ever growing range of options that people are using to connect to the community. This could be social networking sites or independent prayer groups that offer more flexibility and less cost. So what does that mean for the future of synagogues in America?
To help answer that question, twenty of the leading Jewish thinkers have contributed essays for a new book titled “Synagogues in a Time of Change: Fragmentations and Diversity in Jewish Religious Movements,” soon to be published by the Alban Institute, a center for learning and leadership with a focus on congregations. Some of the authors include Rabbi Zachary I. Heller, associate director of the National Center for Jewish Policy Studies, and Rabbi Hayim Herring, executive director of STAR: Synagogue Transformation and Renewal (a group JOI has worked with closely in the past).
We are living in quite possibly the most diverse point in Jewish history, both in terms of demographics and how we worship. It’s time to dive deep into a discussion about synagogues and the organic changes that are now taking place. In promotional materials, the book is described as a “catalyst for personal reflection and public discussion on the past, present and future of the American synagogue.” With such a range of authors and ideas, the book is certain to achieve that goal.