Friday, January 23, 2009

The Case for Next Dor

We have been making a good deal of progress since we first unveiled the Next Dor Proposal. As I speak to more and more people in the community, it is becoming more and more clear that there needs to be a place with the capacity and the environment to incubate the post-college Jewish community in St. Louis

Two weeks ago tonight, we hosted 28 Jewish young adults at our house.

We ran out of forks, and chairs.

Tonight, as we get close (or even surpass) that number, it is clearer than ever that the basic demand exists. We are very much here and need a space in which to connect.

Case in point: I reached out to someone on Facebook recently who is new to St. Louis. "Are there any cool Jewish events going on?" She asked, "Events that actually get people to show up?"

But it isn't just the post-college Yids who are clamoring for something to happen.

Last Friday night, I went to a St. Louis Reform Synagogue with a friend to hear him lead services. The number of congregants present was under 25, but the building was gorgeous.

"Do you think young Jews, your friends, you...would come to here...if we offered wine or beer sampling?"

(Does everyone think we are alcoholics?)

I tried to explain that my hesitation (and that of many of us, I expect) is the location and the facility. I recognize that there a lot of us in the county, even past 270, and for them, the location may work, but there is something that rubs me the wrong way about going to a synagogue for that type of event.

When I brought up the Next Dor project as an alternative future location for such an event, I was met with a level of interest, but also a bit of cautiousness. After all, we are advocating something that doesn't directly bring people into the membership (dues paying) ranks of these congregations.

The fundamental difference in what we are talking about is capacity building, at a regional level. Instead of focusing on a certain institution, congregation, or group's needs, we are approaching this from a generational standpoint. How do we become engaged and connected to each other, within this generation, and between generations, to the point that we have created another layer in the fabric of the community?

We think the answer is Next Dor.

1 comment:

Ariel said...

Question: If you knew your friends were going, would you take the hour or so to go to Friday night services? What about Saturday afternoon? Next Dor aside - only because it won't be four walls and a door for at least a year - I've had people say to me many times that they are thinking about services, want to just see what it's like, or are curious but nervous they won't know anyone. Next Dor is a phenomenal program that's going to make a huge difference in our community, but let's not wait until the planning is ironed out. We have opportunities already in existence.

So for the record: I go to services every Saturday morning. I would happily go any Friday night -for those of us in the CWE, CRC makes this ridiculously easy. And I will do my best as a local to deal with whatever is "rubbing you the wrong way about going to a synagogue for" services.

Don't undermine the resources we already have just because there are potentially better ones out there.