Is there a Jewish Future?

Many questions and concerns trouble those committed to liberal Jewish life in America:

  • What place does a synagogue, a Jewish community, a Jewish organization, a Jewish lifestyle have in today's world?
  • Do we need to become more like the fast, high-tech, virtual society around us to attract the young and the unaffiliated?
We succeed by remaining steadfast to our ancient tradition:  
  • We strive for kedushah (holiness).  Our tradition teaches us that God is kadosh and that we, as the Jewish people, are kadosh.
  • Kadosh literally means "separated/removed."  
  • We retain our kedushah by living counter-cultural values, striving for the good, the right and the authentic despite the pulls of popular American culture.
We can only survive if we live our unique Jewish worldview and values and stand strong in the face of the many societal forces that pull us away from our tradition's true core.

Popular Culture vs. Jewish Values

Facade, veneer, focus on outward appearance vs.
  • Meaning, depth and real exploration of difficult thoughts and feelings
Expansion and aggrandizement of self through consumerism, accumulation, "keeping up" with the technology or purchases of others vs.
  • Expansion of self through serious inward reflection and gratitude for the blessings in one's life
Individualism/virtual connection with others primarily through phones, laptops and iPads vs.
  • face-to-face human connection with others
Encircling one's self only with people of the same age, socio-economic level, stage of life, political ideology and education vs.
  • Joining in religious community to bond with people of diverse ages, stages of life, political opinions and social-educational-economic levels
Highest value is economic productivity vs.
  • Highest value is developing one's inner character and living ethically and morally

We should not aim for Jewish Surviving - 
We need to aim for Jewish Thriving

Jewish groups, institutions, leaders, agencies must:
  • Ensure our community understands our unique Jewish worldview and approach to life
  • Ensure our efforts provide the skills to live a more deeply Jewish life
  • Ensure our efforts build enthusiasm and motivation in Jews for an actively Jewish life
  • Ensure that our unique Jewish worldview and approach is expressed in each and every
    • written communication
    • program
    • worship service/ceremony
    • project
    • committee meeting and function
    • social and social justice event
Yardsticks for measuring each of our efforts:
  • Does this move our people closer toward the goal of deep engagement with our tradition, rituals, practices, texts and values?
  • Do people reach a greater understanding of how the Jewish approach and worldview is distinctive from others?