Wake Up and Smell The Coffee

Some doom-sayers worry about the intermarriage rate; others the shrinking birthrate in the Jewish community; or the lack of reasonably priced communal affiliation.

Guess for these people the glass is always half empty.

For those of us on the other side, those of us who see the beginnings of a new golden age of Jewish communal innovation, those of us out in the trenches (so to speak) with the new, young innovators, the students in the various professional programs, and the just all around ‘younger’ interested and non-affiliated, not only is the glass not half empty, it’s close to overflowing!

The most recent example, this past week’s Jewlicious Festival 4.0. Writing on the Jewlicious blog, “ck” tells us:

“Looking back on this past weekend, I can’t help but be a little awed. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, especially since we are talking about what can be viewed as a glorified Shabaton, but the latest Jewlicious Festival was seriously nothing less than a transformative experience…

But this year, when I stopped running around and just tried to absorb what was going on, the images that really stood out were those of the various Jewish communal leaders from all over the place who were in attendance and seemed a bit… what, stunned?

Stunned?? Yeah. Stunned. Jewlicious united people from across the Jewish spectrum…”

Now, also this past week, thousands of miles away in Jerusalem, I was at JAFI’s Board of Governors Meeting. I realize looks are deceiving, but there sure was a lot of grey hair among the UJC set. More to the point, where was the younger crowd? They certainly did not have a seat at the Board table. Or for that matter in the Observer’s / Guest area either.

Our professionals need to get out of their office suites and see what’s happening.

Jewlicious is but one among many examples. I spoke with several B.O.G. attendees who complained, yes complained, about the ‘younger generation’. Though when asked what they are doing for them, about the ONLY answer I heard is “our Federation subsidizes their Birthright trip”. Now this is well and good. And I, for one, know the money is well spent; I also strongly believe we are beginning to see the pay-off for this investment and it will only grow.

But the ‘old rules’ no longer apply. Whether it’s a traditional Synagogue membership or the entrenched leadership style in far to many places that shuts out this younger demographic, large parts of our community are ignoring this new group. It’s already a problem and will continue to fester.

Is your coffee getting cold? There is still time to reheat, but time’s running out. This generation is already creating their own agenda.

Pretty soon, you will want a seat at their table.