Thursday, December 4, 2008

Federation Board of Trustees Panel: SuperJew Status

Last night, LC and I had the opportunity to sit on a panel of 'young Jews' with JJ Flotkin, and flanked by Sandy Cardin, President of the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. We spoke our minds, and in the process, 'challenged cherished beliefs'.

When the VP of the STL Jewish Federation asked us to speak, we were honored, and a bit freaked out. Who are we to think that we have any answers, for that matter, aside from the traffic we get on this site, and the people we get to sit down with for Shabbat dinners, who are we to even try to represent a generation of Jews.

Never-the-less, the opportunity was presented, and we took it.

The meeting itself was a perfect illustration of some of the disconnect that takes place between the generations.

The proceedings began with Robert's Rules of Order material, then moved to a check presentation from Anheuser-Busch(InBev). Sandy Cardin then got up and proceeded to, very eloquently, describe (indirectly) how those very proceedings were things keeping young Jews away from 'organized Judaism'.

First, organization/institutionalization, keeps us away by having a specific leadership structure in which one must advance through the ranks in a very prescribed fashion. It may take 10 years to get to a leadership role. Sandy acknowledged that this structure holds little appeal.

Second, the idea of 'get 'em while their young' specifically as it pertains to fundraising, may be totally incorrect. Sandy stated, very much in line with how we feel, that the emphasis should be on building a community, so that people have personal ties to giving later on.

When it came time for us to speak, LC, JJ, and I represented fairly different approaches to young adult involvement in Judaism.

LC, who has written about the subject before represents the 'more ish than Jewish' approach, having recently become involved through Moishe House activities (which is incidentally now primarily Schusterman funded).

JJ, president of the Young Professionals Division of the Federation, represents a more settled young adult, being married with a child, and is very involved with the Federation and many of the programs therein.

I really hope that our perspectives were helpful for those assembled at the Fed last night and more than that, I hope that we can inspire some real movement around the topics we discussed.

One of the most interesting points brought up by Sandy, and expounded upon in the course of the panel discussion is the fact that, whether or not it is acknowledged, we are a part of the community. Whether or not our events and activities revolve around the JCC, Federation, or Hillel (and increasingly not) young Jews around the country are continuing to foster community, build connections, and have meaningful Jewish experiences.

3 comments:

Meister2 said...

oh snap! Saw you guys last night although you may not have seen me (incognito). People were talking about you guys today, favorably. Great job!

-P

LC said...

Very good summation of the event, Y?. It was great that the Board asked for our opinions and even better that we felt that we could speak freely.

Sandy Cardin's presentation was extremely interesting to me... He basically described everything I think, as if I took a survey and then the Foundation turned that into a report. His conclusion about the Jewish community as a whole looking a lot different than it is today because of waning institutions aging themselves away seemed to light a fire under the crowd. And I'm glad he presented first, so we could then shed some more light on the topics at hand...

Stuart said...

I was one of the board members there and enjoyed and learned from the panel. Within 24 hours, all 4 of those mentioned above were my new "friends" on Facebook and my new "connections" on LinkedIn. As probably one of the oldest guys on Facebook, I find it a great way to keep up with people, especially through their pictures. And don't forget to check out our sister city relationship with Yokneam/Megiddo. A strong contingent of young Jewish leaders from St. Louis just paid a vist. See http://www.jewishinstlouis.org/page.aspx?id=165038