Getting Jews with little or no affiliation excited about participating in the organized Jewish community is a challenge. It’s not a new challenge, though with expanding online media outlets and social networks, the opportunities for reaching the unaffiliated are growing. That’s where a magazine like Tablet comes in. It’s online and therefore easy to access, and it creates a unique space where anyone – regardless of affiliation – can explore Jewish life and culture.
Tablet editor Alana Newhouse recently sat down with Leadel.net, a media hub that highlights Jewish voices and ideas from across the ideological spectrum, focusing on issues of Jewish identity. She explained how the goal of Tablet is to be a place where people “of any religious affiliation, political affiliation,” or people who are “curious about Jewish identity” can come and engage with Judaism in a way that fits the 21st century. “We don’t live in a world where people are embarrassed of their Jewish identity,” she said. “And that impulse needs to be honored and respected and examined and looked at and engaged with.”
Webzines like Tablet and other Jewish media websites understand that we have an amazing opportunity to reach a wide audience of unaffiliated Jews online, and have to decide whether their content is for an already-“insider” audience or accessible by all. But piquing their interest with an article is only the first step. How do we take it to the next level and encourage people to explore and connect with the Jewish community offline? If we simply put everything up on the internet and that’s all we expect from Jews – to read a website – how will that lead to actual community and deeper engagement?
That’s why JOI’s outreach methodology works to engage people deeper in their own Jewish interests, regardless of where those interests are first expressed—whether online or at secular venues like grocery stores, malls and bookstores. Along with additional easy-access destinations like Tablet, we also need to be more proactive in finding the unaffiliated and offering them all that the Jewish community has to offer, because there is great value in being part of a community and exploring one’s heritage.
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