Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Technion Students in St. Louis: Points of Confluence

The world is serendipitous. Everyday, pieces of the young Jewish community are coming together in St. Louis

Last night, the St. Louis Israel Connection hosted Gidi and Keren, two fantastic Israelis from the Technion, Israel's Institute of Technology. Not only did we learn about work being done in the field of cancer detection, we had an opportunity to meet a few new people as well.

What the event proved to me was that, once again, young Jews will show up to comfortable environments and connect on a personal level, if they are brought in through personal relationships, and don't feel any kind of pressure from an agenda.

This seems to be mirrored in a recent "Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandies study of the Jewish communal involvement of Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni."

As discussed on JewSchool, the study's findings are pretty interesting and point to the same feelings and responses that I see in myself and my group of Jewish friends in St. Louis.

The most interesting piece of the study seems to be the following:

The alumni surveyed in all four cities said they would like to be more involved than they were in Jewish life. Most preferred small gatherings to large, anonymous “meat market” Jewish events.

“They’re happy to eat free food and drink free beer at those big events, but they don’t feel it meets their needs to find Jewish community,” [study co-author Fern] Chertok reports.

Respondents also said they were interested in learning more about Judaism and Jewish culture and history, including Hebrew, but were wary of outreach groups with a perceived “religious” agenda. They also wanted a network of friends to share those experiences as a way of re-creating the camaraderie they felt on their Israel trips.

So how do we take these 'findings' which jive with what we already 'know' and turn it into action?

Moishe House seems like a pretty good starting point, but how does the culture change?

Read the full JewSchool piece here

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