As we continue to conduct one-on-one, personal follow-up with the nearly 250 Jewish communal professionals and volunteer leaders that attended our conference in Washington DC last month, I wanted to post two more articles that resulted from the gathering.
The first is a profile of conference co-chair Adam Bronfman, who gave a rousing keynote speech on the first evening of the conference. JTA reporter Sue Fishkoff caught up with him afterwards and wrote a great piece about this communal leader, whose focus on meaning and values over raw demography is, we believe, the best approach toward creating a Big Tent Judaism:
Bronfman is more interested in encouraging Jews and Jewish institutions to treat newcomers with warmth than in counting “which percentage of the Jewish world does X.” Outreach, he says, should be used to help Jews find more meaning in their lives. As a philanthropist and a person, that’s more important to him than bean counting.
Great volunteer leaders must work toward their vision in partnership with great Jewish communal professionals, which is why we were also gratified to read a terrific first-person account of the conference from conference participant Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg in the St. Louis Jewish Light newspaper, in which she wrote:
We had gathered together, participants from all walks of Jewish life, to discuss outreach and what it means for the Jewish community of the present and future. There were a variety of workshops ranging from the “how to’s” of innovative outreach methods, to understanding how we can be inclusive of the LGBT Jews in our communities, to hearing first-hand accounts from those who are Jews by Choice, those who are intermarried but raising Jewish families, and those who are intermarried and raising interfaith families. Following every workshop session there was a “buzz,” as conference participants discussed what they just learned and how these outreach opportunities might work within their own communities.
We are now working to maintain that “buzz” even as we transition to the behind-the-scenes efforts of outreach programming, rolling out the communal welcome mat to all those who would join us.