A Subjective Approach to Judaism

Last weekend, I spent my mornings in synagogue welcoming the Jewish New Year. And, while these services appealed to me, I couldn’t help but wonder what we, as a Jewish people, can do to make Judaism more tangible to those interested.

Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein makes an interesting point in the Philly Metro blog when he questions why we aren’t actively trying to be more engaging. As Jews, we should be making Judaism a subjective and warm experience. He argues that in times of peril, Jewish leaders should reach out to their community. He writes:

If we’d only offer Jews—especially younger and searching ones—a Judaism that was vibrant, inspiring, edgy and joyful, rather than one that was fearful, defensive, ossified and out of touch with the needs and desires of a new generation of Jews, no one would even be tempted to look elsewhere for their spiritual sustenance.

Rabbi Goldstein uses strong language to convey his message that as a community, we must change our focus. Last weekend, the rabbi at my synagogue did exactly that, sermonizing not about the many negative perceptions of Jews and Israel portrayed by the world media but rather how far we have come as a people (as an interesting aside, there was an article in today’s JTA on the most popular High Holiday sermon topics this year). For example, we should be proud of ourselves for taking a lead in the fight against the genocide in Darfur—drawing on the value of social action and that nature of our own persistence. What other things in our communities are we proud of, and how can we share them with everyone interested? How do we highlight our strengths and create a more inviting space for all those interested, including couples and families where all members may not be or have been raised Jewish?

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