Booze and Young Jewish Outreach

Gary Rosenblatt writing in The Jewish Week:

Back Off On The Bacchanalia

One of the dirty little secrets of Jewish outreach efforts to young people – particularly to college students and those in their 20s – is the use of alcohol to entice them.

The most recent case in point was TribeFest, a five-day gathering sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America to attract people in the 22-to-45 age range. Two years in the planning, it was held last month in Las Vegas and featured discussions, musical entertainment and networking. And lots and lots of liquor.

Participants and observers described how the Vegas setting was a key ingredient in bringing some 1,200 participants to the conference, featuring nine open bars each evening.

For decades, the JFNA National Young Leadership Cabinet, sponsor of the program, had a tradition of holding its major conference in Washington every other year, focusing on politics and top speakers on the Middle East. But with federation affiliation seen as old school by increasing numbers of young people, the cabinet tried a new approach this year, dropping the pretense that TribeFest was anything other than a free-flowing party.

The complete editorial is available here.