eJewishPhilanthropy.com has featured an article by JOI Executive Director Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and Associate Executive Director Paul Golin on the progress of the Public Space Judaism model.
A phrase coined by JOI after a landmark study in 2001, Public Space Judaism is the methodology of bringing Judaism to where people are, outside of the walls of our Jewish institutions, and into public spaces such as supermarkets and bookstores. 2011 saw the rise of public space programs from other organizations in the Jewish community, pointing to a rise in the method’s acceptance and success. We are seeing more and more outreach programming for less-engaged Jews and intermarried households, and the success of these programs is encouraging.
Rabbi Olitzky and Paul Golin look forward to what 2012 has in store:
JOI’s outreach comes from a place of genuine optimism about the future of Jewish life in America. This isn’t a desperation membership drive. We’re out there sharing what we love about being Jewish and helping individuals explore their own connections to whatever they find meaningful in our tradition, culture, and/or peoplehood. We look forward to continuing to share what we’ve learned about outreach and engagement with as many Jewish communal professionals and volunteer leaders as we possible can in 2012.
Public Space Judaism can take place almost anywhere, and JOI can provide the resources for your community to run programs like Passover in the Matzah Aisle and Hands-On Hanukkah. We encourage institutions and organizations to continue to look beyond their physical walls and reach out to the community at large, and the Public Space Judaism model that JOI has created allows for greater outreach. We must also keep in mind that it’s not just the location that matters, but what takes place there: outreach methodology includes many other techniques such as data collection, follow-up, and next-step program planning. JOI can offer resources and tools to maximize the potential of these programs, and we look forward to working with new communities in 2012.
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