After spending the day meeting with the likes of AIPAC and J Street, a contingency of 19 Australian Union of Jewish Students leaders visited JOI’s offices for an informal Q&A about JOI’s work. Associate Director Paul Golin and Senior Director of Training Eva Stern led the session, talking about innovative approaches to outreach such as Public Space Judaism, understanding of issues related to intermarriage, and the bigger picture question of why be Jewish. Students from the AUJS have visited the JOI offices for the past four years in a row now; we’re honored to host them and appreciate their interest in our work.
The students put forth extremely thoughtful questions and seemed genuinely appreciative of the responses and new perspectives. One student asked whether JOI’s work was perceived as encouraging of intermarriage. In response, Paul was able to explain that such a perception confused cause and effect, that intermarriage in North America has been a growing trend for decades at this point, that the Jewish community spent the 1960s through the 1990s trying to put its foot down during that period to no effect as the intermarriage rate continued to climb regardless. And that JOI’s work recognizes an opportunity to engage less-engaged Jews, including intermarried households, and try to help them answer the question of why be Jewish. Thoughtful, well-informed responses and explanations like this of JOI’s work seemed to have a deep impact on the students’ understanding of modern Jewish life, challenges and potential solutions.
We hope the students’ JOI experience, along with their other experiences (including last night’s performance of A Very Les Miz Hanukkah) will help them think about new approaches to outreach and inclusiveness in the Australian Jewish community as well.
No comments yet.