It’s Not (Just) About the Numbers

By Rabbi Adam Greenwald and Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson In our last piece in eJewishPhilanthropy we argued for the necessity of investing in conversion preparation programs as a response to our communal demographic crisis. We are a small - and as the studies all suggest - dwindling people and so it is a numerical imperative for our survival that we not only retain the Jews we already have, but open the doors to add in all those who are potentially interested to join our family. … [Read more...]

The Tent: Helping Jewish Leaders Look Through New Prisms

By Larry Glickman Leading a Jewish community can be a daunting task. Whether you lead your community as clergy, professional staff, or lay leadership, we all do our sacred work through different prisms. We work through the prism of spirituality. The Torah and other teachings of our ancestors guide our communities with holiness and wisdom. We work through the prism of the history of our community. Every community has experienced its own victories and challenges, and those experiences often inform how the community is led today. We work through the prism of expertise and best practices. We bring information from our “day jobs,” and we learn from others who do the same work we do. What fresh ideas do they have? What do they do that has worked or failed? These are all prisms I have looked … [Read more...]

Generations & Re-Generation: Implications for Sustaining the Jewish Community

New language, new ideas and new ways to define connections are needed if we are to adapt as a community to the many new opportunities for engagement emerging from every corner of our culture. By David Elcott and Stuart Himmelfarb In the time since we founded B3/The Jewish Boomer Platform, we have endeavored to change the conversation about aging and its implications for strengthening Jewish life in the United States. Our initial survey (in 2009) indicated that Baby Boomers are a vulnerable population, open to Jewish institutions, programs, and resources, but not wedded to them. In the ensuing years, we expanded our efforts with an exploration of the attitudes, behaviors and fidelity of the four adult cohorts in the Jewish community. This new survey, which examines more affiliated and engaged … [Read more...]

A Bill of Rights for Conversion Candidates

Bill of Rights

I propose that the American Jewish community adopt a Bill of Rights for Conversion Candidates, to be agreed upon by any of my rabbinic colleagues engaged in the holy work of preparing individuals (and their families) to join the Jewish People. By Rabbi Arnold D. Samlan I have heard enough from those who are going through or have gone through naturalization to the Jewish people. Even before the recent revelations (to be fair, allegations) regarding one of the lead rabbis in Orthodox Jewish conversions [I prefer "naturalization," as it indicates joining the Jewish people, not merely the religion], it had become clear that the entire system was broken and that potential converts were often being misled or taken advantage of. It is not my place to detail the abuses in the system, which are, … [Read more...]

Introducing the Slingshot Class of 2014 – 2015

national_guide_slingshot-14-15_copy

Slingshot has released Slingshot ‘14 - ‘15 - its tenth annual guide to North America’s most innovative Jewish organizations. The Guide, a go-to resource for volunteers, activists and donors looking for new opportunities and projects, will help ensure the Jewish community remains relevant and thriving. Among the hundreds of organizations that applied for inclusion 82 were selected, and were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact they have in their work, the leadership they have in their sector, and their effectiveness at achieving results. Slingshot also published three smaller editions and supplements to accompany the Slingshot Guide. There are two regional editions, the Slingshot DC Edition and the Slingshot Midwest Edition, which highlight 18 and 21 organizations, respectively. … [Read more...]

Newly Released Miami Population Study Shows 26% Increase in 18-34 Age Group

Miami

Miami is back! Reversing 30 years of decline, the population of the Miami Jewish community has increased by 9 percent during the past decade. This from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation's just released "2014 Greater Miami Jewish Federation Population Study: A Portrait of the Miami Jewish Community." More than 123,000 Jews now live in Miami-Dade County, making Miami the eleventh largest Jewish community in the U.S. “In the past decade, we have seen a flow of new Jewish residents, as well as an increase in the length of residency in Miami,” said the Federation's Chief Planning Officer Michelle Labgold. “This is significant news because Miami’s Jewish community experienced a steady decline in population between 1975 and 2004.” The Country’s Most Diverse Jewish Population The … [Read more...]

Who Will You Be Welcoming Into Your Sukkah?

The very people who are reading and talking about the Pew study are by in large, the people who are already engaged and not the ones that we need to try and be reaching. By Sam Aboudara On Sukkot, we remember the several decades that the Israelites spent journeying through a hostile environment in search of a promised land that they believed to exist at the end of their travels. During this time, our ancestors took shelter in temporary dwellings. Essentially, the Jews experienced homelessness. Only a short few weeks after Sukkot ends, we read Parashat Vayera, in which we see evidence of Abraham’s hospitable nature as he welcomes in three traveling guests, who for all purposes are complete strangers. Not only welcoming them into his tent, Abraham rushes to their beck and call, involves his … [Read more...]

A Look Back From Advancing Women Professionals (and a sneak peak from Slingshot)

[The following essay appears as an introduction to Slingshot ’14-’15, the 10th edition of Slingshot: A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation. Slingshot publishes this tool annually to highlight Jewish projects throughout North America that creatively meet the needs of today’s Jewish community. We hope you enjoy this sneak peak of Slingshot ’14-’15, which will publish in full in late October of 2014. To pre-order your free copy of the guide, visit www.slingshotfund.org/order. Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community (AWP) has played a critical role in closing the gender gap in the Jewish community. From its early research uncovering the deep-rooted bias in the system through its series of successful experiments intended both to change institutional policies and support individual … [Read more...]