Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Synagogue 3000 Retreat: A great extended weekend in NY

New York is pretty Jewy. In fact, it might be argued that of all of the cities in the world, New York might just have the most yiddishkite, eclipsing even Jerusalem. Monday and Tuesday of this week, however, New York hosted a different kind of conversation about Judaism. . . namely, how to make synagogues relevant for the Next Dor, the next generation of Jews, who are now in their 20's and 30's.

The trip to New York started off normally enough, with a trip to Marcus Garvey park in Harlem to check out the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, a hotel party in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and a chance street meeting with a cousin who I didn't think I'd have a chance to see.

The retreat itself was very interesting. Synagogue 3000 chose 5 congregations, from the 1,200 or so 'liberal Jewish' congregations in the US to work with as part of its Next Dor initiative, which awarded a 1-year, $40,000 grant to be used towards outreach to and engagement of Jewish young adults.

Each congregation had a different approach, both in terms of structure, and in terms of ideas for outreach.

I thought it was odd that I was the only 20-something represented as a part of the project, and that we seemed to be the only project in which the sponsoring congregation had taken a hands-off approach to letting us build our own idea and community. (for a video of some of the other young adults involved with Next Dor STL, as well as shots of the house in progress, check out this video)

Still, we heard about some great ideas, met some great people, including Steven Cohen, the pre-eminent Jewish sociologist, and Michelle Citrin, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter made famous by her parody of Obama Girl, entitled, "Rosh Hashanah Girl".

Everyone there gets that opportunities to connect need to be authentic, and not a thinly veiled opportunity to preach, chastise, or pass along propaganda. They get that our sole goal in life isn't just to get married and join a synagogue, and this is good news (that they get it, I mean).

There was so much information packed into the two days, that I'm still trying to sort it out.. and it didn't help that in my haste, I left my notepad at the hotel.

The upshot of this whole thing was that it is really apparent that there is a wide base of support and resources for us to call upon as we move forward with Next Dor in St. Louis.

1 comment:

Ron said...

Thanks for being there, Yoni! We found your pad and will are doing a great thing there in STL
Ron Wolfson