Seattle, Washington. Two presentations. One on the future of the Jewish community to the staff of the local Jewish Federation. The second to the staff of the Jewish Community Center on the principles of Big Tent Judaism.
Both are institutions whose leadership understands that major changes are necessary if they are going to continue to be relevant to the community they serve. And they are in the process of making those changes. That is why I was glad to be there to help them reflect on the changes in the context of the various things that JOI is teaching the community about engagement, especially to those on the so-called “outside” of the Jewish community.
As far as I am concerned, radical change is necessary. There will be some institutions that may be needed to nurture the status quo for those who are interested in maintaining it. But that is the minority—as we see from those who have already “voted with their feet” not to engage with the community. The question before us is what is the extent of the change that is necessary? It is clear that tweaking the current models will be insufficient. Community institutions have already tried that approach without success. It is also clear that the potential reward is only as great as the risk that institutions and communities are willing to take. To use a colloquial expression that seems to fit, as far as I am concerned, “one has to be willing to risk the farm.” Anything short of that will not yield the results necessary to meet the needs of the generation that is in front of us.
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