An article in today’s Washington Jewish Week, “Building the Jewish Big Top: Parley Focuses on the Art, Science of Outreach,” by Associate Editor Richard Greenberg, does a great job capturing the vision and optimism of JOI’s Third Annual Conference, held earlier this week (and already blogged about here):
The conference agenda included everything from nuts-and-bolts discussions of successful outreach initiatives to a presentation on “the outreach potential of popular entertainment” to personal vignettes from those who have lived life on the outskirts of American Judaism….
Keynote speaker Adam Bronfman, conference co-chair, has experienced life on both sides of the inclusion divide. Raised in a completely secular household, Bronfman married his high school sweetheart, who was not Jewish at the time, but later converted after raising their four children as Jews.
“My kids live in an identified Jewish home, yet when they go out, sometimes they’re told they’re not Jewish,” Bronfman, managing director of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, said in his Sunday night talk. “My story is not unique.” In fact, he said the “issue of outsiders and insiders” is mulled over each day at his foundation.
“Rejection has unintended consequences,” he added. “I think anyone who identifies as a Jew is a Jew; I don’t have a threshold.” Bronfman, however, conceded that perhaps because of his high-profile name, he and his wife have encountered fewer obstacles than other intermarried couples. “I want that for everyone,” he added.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who together with Adam Bronfman co-chaired the conference, discusses her experience as the child of intermarriage who came back to Judaism as an adult.
In an uproariously funny session, Rob Lotterstein (left) discusses the television series he created, wrote, and executive produced, “The War at Home” after the conference screened one episode called “13 Going on $30,000.”
A stack of the Ten Principles of Big Tent Judaism, with tear-off postcards for institutions to join the coalition.
Enthusiastic conference attendees during the launch of the Big Tent Judaism initiative.