N.J. and You: Lowering Barriers to Jewish Involvement

I recently had the pleasure of joining my colleagues Kerry Olitzky and Ruth Decalo in offering a workshop to communal professionals hosted at the Middlesex County, NJ, Federation and sponsored by the Karma Foundation and the Middlesex County Federation. Our daylong training focused on transforming one-time contacts into deeper engagement in the Jewish community, and reaching out to newcomers through our Public Space Judaism model. Last week’s New Jersey Jewish News reported on this training:

Ruth Decalo, senior director of programs and training at the institute, said the key to connecting with the unaffiliated is not to make them feel like “second-rate Jews.” Both she and the local professionals spoke of instances when rather than bonding with the community and its institutions, people looking to find their place in the community were actually turned off.

As part of our session on maximizing contacts with newcomers, we focused on techniques to lower barriers to participation in Jewish life. In fact, one of the central take-away messages of the workshop was how wonderful it is to identify barriers, because it enables us to lower them! JOI would like to offer Jewish communal professionals a free one-time consultation on lowering barriers to Jewish engagement in their community. Please email me at if you’re interested!

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