We’ve noticed an interesting media trend regarding the Jewish community as of late. There has been a lot of talk about what the future of the Jewish community will look like. While this isn’t exactly a new topic, it seems to have piqued the interest of journalists and Jewish communal professionals. There was an article about preserving the rituals of Jewish life in small towns in The New York Times, which spurred conversations about the future of the Jewish community in general. Yoram Samets, the founder of JVillage Network, responded to the Times article by arguing that in order to grow, we must be much more intentional” about our future. “The thriving Jewish communities are those that embrace, celebrate, honor and include our differences,” he writes, suggesting that we need to “remove the (denominational) labels” and simply be Jews.
Adding even more ideas to the debate were Aharon Horwitz, co-founder and director of the PresenTense Group, who wrote a blog exploring what we can do to engage young Jewish adults who will become our future leaders. And last month, the first-ever Jewish Futures Conference in New Orleans brought together communal leaders, educators, and educational entrepreneurs and forecasters to talk about the potential of creative and thoughtful Jewish education.
These conversations are all addressing the same basic issues. What are we doing to attract young adults to Jewish life? Technology in the 21st century lowers barriers and allows us to build communities on-line and through a series of social networks we could never have imagined ten years ago. How can we utilize these tools to help people engage with the Jewish community and participate in Jewish life? How is the Jewish community evolving, and what does that mean for future generations – particularly in terms of Jewish engagement?
For over 20 years JOI has been a recognized leader in the field of outreach, continually pushing the boundaries to try and find exciting and innovative new ways to engage more of the unaffiliated in our community. With this experience we are uniquely positioned to guide conversations about the future of the Jewish community, which is the inspiration for our upcoming conference. Titled Judaism2030: A Working Conference for a Vibrant Jewish Future, this two-day conference from May 23-24 in New York City will provide a forum to discuss the largest challenges and opportunities we face in the 21st Century and the steps needed to create a more welcoming and inclusive Jewish community. We will bring together forward-thinking visionaries with on-the-ground practitioners to talk about what we need to do to meet the needs of the diverse Jewish community of tomorrow. Sessions will include topics such as “What ‘Belonging’ Meant in Our Past, What it Means Today, and What it Might Mean in 2030”; “Virtual Peoplehood, Virtual Community: How Technology and Media will Enhance Jewish Community” and “Change as a Constant: We Are an Always-Evolving Community.” For additional information and to learn how to register, please click here.
We are at a unique moment in American Jewish history. There are more ways to express one’s Jewish identity then ever before, and how we respond to these changes will directly influence the strength of the Jewish community. We hope our conference will impact attitudes about the future landscape of the Jewish community and provide action steps that will help bring our optimistic vision to fruition.
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