Visionary solutions for a community ripe for transformational changefrom fourteen leading innovators of Jewish life.
" Jewish Megatrends offers a vision for a community that can simultaneously strengthen the institutions that serve those who seek greater Jewish identification and attract younger Jews, many of whom are currently outside the orbit of Jewish communal life. Schwarz and his collaborators provide an exciting path, building on proven examples, that we ignore at our peril."from the Foreword
The American Jewish community is riddled with doubts about the viability of the institutions that well served the Jewish community of the twentieth century. Synagogues, Federations and Jewish membership organizations have yet to figure out how to meet the changing interests and needs of the next generation.
In this challenging yet hopeful call for transformational change, visionary leader Rabbi Sidney Schwarz looks at the social norms that are shaping the habits and lifestyles of younger American Jews and why the next generation is so resistant to participate in the institutions of Jewish communal life as they currently exist. He sets out four guiding principles that can drive a renaissance in Jewish life and gives evidence of how, on the margins of the Jewish community, those principles are already generating enthusiasm and engagement from the very millennials that the organized Jewish community has yet to engage.
Contributorsleading innovators from different sectors of the Jewish communityeach use Rabbi Schwarz's framework as a springboard to set forth their particular vision for the future of their sector of Jewish life and beyond.
CONTRIBUTORS:Elise Bernhardt • Rabbi Sharon Brous • Sandy Cardin • Dr. Barry Chazan • Dr. David Ellenson • Wayne Firestone • Rabbi Jill Jacobs • Anne Lanski • Rabbi Joy Levitt • Rabbi Asher Lopatin • Rabbi Or N. Rose • Nigel Savage • Barry Shrage • Dr. Jonathan Woocher
|Publisher:||Turner Publishing Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Rabbi Sidney Schwarz is a social entrepreneur, an author and a political activist. He founded and led PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values for twenty-one years. He is also the founding rabbi of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland, where he continues to teach and lead services. Currently, he serves as a senior fellow at ClalThe National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership where he is involved in a program that trains rabbis to be visionary spiritual leaders. He is the author of Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future ; Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews Can Transform the American Synagogue and Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World.
Rabbi Sidney Schwarz is available to speak on the following topics:
- Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future
- Tribal vs. Covenantal Identity: Jews and the American Public Square
- Finding a Spiritual Home: Redefining the Religious Enterprise
- Reaching the Jewish Community of the 21st Century: Educating for Jewish Citizenship
- Between Conscience and Solidarity
- Can Social Justice Save the Jewish Soul?
Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat has served in senior leadership posts in four U.S. administrations while also playing a leadership role in the Jewish community, most recently as the co-chairman of the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem. He is the author of Imperfect Justice and The Future of the Jews.
Elise Bernhardt, has been president and CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Culture (formerly the National Foundation for Jewish Culture) since 2006. Before that, Bernhardt was the artistic advisor of New York City Center's Fall for Dance Festival and executive director of The Kitchen, the performance space in Manhattan, from 1998 to 2004. She founded the organization Dancing in the Streets, which produces performances in public spaces, and directed it from 1983 to 1998. She received the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture, the BAX 10 Award, and the Doris C. Freedman Award for enriching the public environment.
Rabbi Sharon Brous is the founding rabbi of IKAR (www.ikar-la.org), a spiritual community dedicated to reanimating Jewish life through soulful religious practice that is rooted in a deep commitment to social justice. She has been noted as one of the leading rabbis in the country in Newsweek/Daily Beast and has been listed among the Forward 's fifty most influential American Jews numerous times. She serves on the faculty of the Wexner Heritage Program, the Shalom Hartman Institute, and Reboot and sits on the board of Rabbis for Human Rights.
Sanford R. ("Sandy") Cardin is president of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network (CLSPN), a global effort to ignite the passion and unleash the power in young people to create change for themselves, in the Jewish community, and across the broader world. Cardin is a frequent presenter and panelist in global forums on topics related to catalytic grant making, innovative program building, Jewish identity, young adult engagement, Israel, and more.
Dr. Barry Chazan is professor emeritus of the Hebrew University, founding educational director of Birthright Israel, and professor of education and director of the Masters of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies Program at Spertus College in Chicago. He is married to Anne Lanski.
Dr. David Ellenson is president of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. Dr. Ellenson was ordained as a rabbi at HUC JIR and received his PhD from Columbia University. His book After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity won the National Jewish Book Award. His most recent book, Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policymaking in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Orthodox Responsa , was coauthored with Daniel Gordis.
Wayne Firestone is the president and CEO of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. He is a lawyer, writer, and Jewish community professional who has lived and studied in Israel for almost a decade. He is the founding executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition and serves on the advisory boards of Repair the World, Mazon, and the National Urban Debate League.
Rabbi Jill Jacobs is executive director of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. . Widely acknowledged as one of the leading voices in Jewish social justice, Rabbi Jacobs is also the author of There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition and Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community (both Jewish Lights). She has been voted to the Forward newspaper's list of fifty influential Jews, to Newsweek 's list of the fifty most influential rabbis in America and to the Jewish Week 's list of "thirty-six under thirty-six."
Rabbi Jill Jacobs is available to speak on the following topics:
- Social Justice in Judaism: Historical, Textual and Political Roots, and Their Meaning for Jews Today
- Synagogue Social Justice That Works
- In the Image: A Jewish Take on Human Rights
- Torah in the Workplace: Ethical Business Practices for the Synagogue, School, Home and Business
- A Jewish Approach to Combating Human Trafficking
Anne Lanski is the executive director of the iCenter, a national organization established by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation to build and support the field of precollegiate Israel education. Lanski was founder of Shorashim, a nationally acclaimed Israel experience program, and she is widely regarded as the pioneering figure in the formulation and implementation of the mifgash as a seminal context for experiencing Israel. She is married to Dr. Barry Chazan.
Rabbi Joy Levitt is the executive director at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. Prior to coming to the JCC, she served as a congregational rabbi on Long Island and in New Jersey for twenty years. She is the coeditor of A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah. Most recently, Rabbi Levitt founded the Jewish Journey Project, a new initiative designed to revolutionize Jewish education for children.
Rabbi Asher Lopatin is the spiritual leader of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Chicago. On a Rhodes Scholarship, he completed an MPhil in medieval Arabic thought from Oxford University and did doctoral work at Oxford on Islamic fundamentalist attitudes toward Jews. He was ordained by Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik, Yeshivas Brisk, and Yeshiva University. He is the incoming president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, succeeding Rabbi Avi Weiss.
Rabbi Or N. Rose is an associate dean at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. He is the coauthor of God in All Moments: Mystical and Practical Spiritual Wisdom from Hasidic Masters and coeditor of Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Call for Justice ; Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections and Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from around the Maggid's Table, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (all Jewish Lights).
Nigel Savage, originally from Manchester, England, founded Hazon in 2000. Since then Hazon has grown to be a nationally significant organization, both renewing Jewish life in profound ways and working to create a healthier and more sustainable world for all. Before founding Hazon, Savage was a professional fund manager in London. He has a master's degree in history from Georgetown University and has learned at Pardes, Yakar, and Hebrew University. Savage is infamous in the United Kingdom for his cameo appearance in the cult Anglo-Jewish comic movie Leon the Pig Farmer. He is also believed to be the first English Jew to have cycled across South Dakota on a recumbent bike.
Barry Shrage has served as president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston since 1987 and has worked in the Jewish community since graduating from the Boston University School of Social Work in 1970. His passion for Jewish education and strengthening Jewish identity has been at the heart of his work throughout his professional career.
Dr. Jonathan Woocher is chief ideas officer of JESNA and heads its Lippman Kanfer Institute: An Action-Oriented Think Tank for Innovation in Jewish Learning and Engagement. He served for twenty years as JESNA's president and chief executive officer before assuming his current position in 2007. Dr. Woocher is the author of Sacred Survival: The Civil Religion of American Jews and many articles on Jewish education, community, and religious life.
Read an Excerpt
Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future
By Rabbi Sidney Schwarz
JEWISH LIGHTS PUBLISHINGCopyright © 2013 Sidney Schwarz
All rights reserved.
Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future
Rabbi Sidney Schwarz
The Jewish community is in a time of transition. Those who are active in the community certainly know this. Many of the institutions that have been the backbone of the organized Jewish community—synagogues, JCCs, Federations, membership organizations—have been losing market share for more than two decades. This is a decline that cannot be attributed to bad leadership or a bad economy. The decline is deep and systemic, and it will require dramatic rethinking on the part of those who are the stewards of the Jewish world.
This essay offers a framework to help us better understand the dramatic changes taking place within American Jewry and how those in a position of leadership in the community—Jewish communal professionals, rabbis, lay leaders, and foundations—might be able to address the challenges that face the major institutions that compose the organized Jewish community. It reframes the conversation away from more typical hand-wringing and doom and gloom expressions, which are hardly constructive, toward a clearer understanding of the challenge that we need to collectively confront.
From Generation to Generation
I begin with a personal narrative. My parents typify the Shoah (Holocaust) generation. Both their families came from Poland and emigrated from the poor backwaters of the Polish shtetl to the more cosmopolitan Berlin in the 1930s, where the families came to know each other. My maternal grandmother sensed the dangers of Nazism and prevailed upon my grandfather to move to the Yishuv, pre-state Palestine, where my mother was raised. Financial hardships in the Holy Land then brought them to Baltimore and, after that, to New York.
Most of my father's family perished in the camps, but two siblings survived. At age fourteen my aunt went on Youth Aliyah to Israel, where she raised a family and lived her whole life. My father was ransomed out of Germany by relatives in the United States when that was still possible. Just two weeks before Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass, which launched the physical assault on Jewish people and property in Germany in 1938), he came to New York at age sixteen without his family. He was a passenger on the last successful voyage of the St. Louis, a. boat whose next voyage would be termed "the voyage of the damned," because it was forced to return to Europe when the ship was not allowed to disembark the Jewish refugees aboard even though the ship was within sight of Miami. Half of the passengers of that ship subsequently lost their lives in the Shoah.
As were hundreds of thousands of other Jews who came to these shores, my parents were deeply scarred by the Holocaust, in awe at the founding of the State of Israel, and eternally grateful to the United States of America, which allowed them to build a new life. Their lives revolved around their synagogue, the events of the Jewish community, and the fate of the State of Israel, where dozens of their family now lived. As immigrants, they could not imagine navigating American society without the intermediary agencies represented by the Jewish community.
I was born in 1953. My most powerful childhood memories include the anxiety in my household in the weeks leading up to the Six-Day War. My parents felt certain that Jews were about to face another holocaust if Israel were to be overrun by invading Arab armies. The subsequent Israeli victory was seen as a miracle—David slaying Goliath.
Nine years later, in 1976, I was on a public bus on a crowded street in Israel when all traffic stopped. The bus driver turned up the radio, and we heard the news bulletin that an Israeli commando team had succeeded in flying twenty-five hundred miles to an airport in Entebbe, Uganda, to rescue more than one hundred Jewish passengers who were being held hostage by terrorists and the soldiers of dictator Idi Amin. The rescue symbolized that Israel was an international protector of Jews; Jews would no longer be victims. As the newsflash ended on the bus, everyone stood up, as if on cue, and sang "Hatikvah," Israel's national anthem.
Fast-forward: December 6, 1987. The Jewish community decided to organize a rally in solidarity with Soviet Jewry to coincide with the visit of Russian premier Mikhail Gorbachev to meet with President Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C. The Summit Rally for Soviet Jewry was not without its risks. Until then, the largest Soviet Jewry rally was a few years earlier and held across from the United Nations when then premier Leonid Brezhnev came to New York. The crowd then was estimated at ten to twelve thousand people. On the huge expanse of the mall behind the U.S. Capitol, ten thousand people would have spelled "failure."
David Harris, now the head of the American Jewish Committee, was then the director of the AJC's Washington office. He coordinated all of the plans for the rally. I was then the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, D.C., and I served as one of David's lieutenants. On the permit we filed for the rally with the National Park Service, we had to provide an estimate for the crowd we expected. We put down fifty thousand, though no one in any position of leadership thought that was possible, including us. Not during the winter. Not in Washington, D.C., where the Jewish population was a fraction of what it was in New York. More prudently, we planned on setting up shuttles from airport and railway terminals for twenty-five thousand people coming in from out of town.
I was privileged to be on the speaker's podium that day behind the Capitol along with then vice president George Bush, Elie Wiesel, newly freed Jewish refusenik Anatoly (soon to be Natan) Sharansky, and Peter, Paul and Mary, who sang. The windchill factor was about zero. But people came. Not 25,000. Not 50,000. But 250,000. The next morning President Reagan started his meeting with Premier Gorbachev by showing him the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which featured photos and stories about the rally. He stated that there would be no increased trade, no progress on arms reduction, and no warming of relations between the United States and the USSR until Gorbachev changed his policy of repression against Soviet Jews.
Within a year of that Summit Rally the gates of emigration opened for Jews. Close to one million Jews left the Soviet Union, most of them moving to Israel. The Soviet Jewry movement, a cause that had fully engaged me for twenty-five years, since my first visit to Russia as a high school student with United Synagogue Youth (USY, the Conservative Jewish national youth movement), could claim victory. The movement has been cited as a turning point in the history of human rights, because it gave evidence of the power and effectiveness of international citizen activism against a totalitarian regime.
I begin with these personal stories because they help explain why the Jewish community today is struggling to engage the next generation of Jews. In the course of my life I have been exposed to events and people that reflect both the tragedy and the triumph of Jewish history. My parents and their families were directly affected by the Holocaust and the birth of the State of Israel. I have firsthand memories of several glorious chapters in Israel's history, including its victory in the 1967 Six-Day War and its dramatic rescue of Jewish hostages at the airport in Entebbe. Meeting with Jewish refuseniks, who had the courage to practice Judaism and fight for immigration rights despite the dangers that entailed, gave me a deep sense of pride in my own Jewish heritage and subsequently shaped the course of my life and my career.
My generation now fills the ranks of the professionals and lay leaders who run the organized Jewish community. It is a generation that came of age in the 1960s, and we have a hard time imagining that we are now on the other side of a generation gap. We believe that we invented the generation gap and thus are immune from the blind spots that affect those on the older side of the divide. Yet the Jewish community has lost major market share among generation X (born 1965&ndaash;81), and it seems that we are poised to do even worse with engaging the millennials (born 1982— 2000) as they mature into adulthood.
I want to focus on three factors that have contributed to the weakening of Jewish identity and affiliation in America: Israel and its ongoing challenges, the end of the ethnic era of American Jewry, and overarching trends in American society. I will then look at trends in American culture and society that require thoughtful and strategic responses. Finally, I will suggest four propositions that point to areas of activity that can and should serve as the focus of die American Jewish future. I think that these areas are ripe for significant investment on the part of philanthropists and intensive programmatic efforts on the part of synagogues and Jewish organizations. Despite some of the current indicators of communal deterioration, I see something very different. On the margins of the community there are stirrings of Jewish revival. It looks a lot different than the Jewish community of the last generation, but if properly nurtured, it has the potential to grow into a great renaissance of American Jewish life.
Excerpted from Jewish Megatrends by Rabbi Sidney Schwarz. Copyright © 2013 by Sidney Schwarz. Excerpted by permission of JEWISH LIGHTS PUBLISHING.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword xiiiAmbassador Stuart E. EizenstatPreface xvii
Part 1 The Changing Face of Jewish Identity in AmericaJewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future 3Rabbi Sidney Schwarz
Part 2 Perspectives from the American Jewish CommunityJewish Culture: What Really Counts? 43Elise BernhardtSynagogues: Reimagined 54Rabbi Sharon BrousJewish Family Foundations: "Come Together, Right Now" 67Sandy CardinIsrael and Jewish Life: A Twenty-First-Century Educational Vision 82Dr. Barry Chazan and Anne LanskiDenominationalism: History and Hopes 94Dr. David Ellenson"Getting" the Next Generation: Young Adults and the Jewish Future 107Wayne L. FirestoneJewish Social Justice: Looking Beyond Ourselves 122Rabbi Jill JacobsJewish Community Centers: Not Just a Gym and a Pool 135Rabbi Joy LevittThe Orthodox Difference 147Rabbi Asher LopatinInterreligious Collaboration: American Judaism and Religious Pluralism 160Rabbi Or N. RoseOn Tribes, Food, and Community 174Nigel SavageThe Federation System: Loving Humanity and the Jewish People 188Barry ShrageJewish Education: From Continuity to Meaning 202Dr. Jonathan S. Woocher
Part 3 The Way ForwardToward a Jewish Renaissance 219Rabbi Sidney Schwarz
Notes 238Suggestions for Further Reading 247About the Author 250Index 251
What People are Saying About This
"A tour de force... I encourage all committed Jewish professionals and lay leaders to absorb and process the vision in this book."
"Compelling.... With much to celebrate and much to cause concern, the reader will better appreciate the complexities of Jewish life when all Jews are Jews by choice."
"Spot-on in its analysis of the biggest changes in American Judaism.... Read this book to become informed, but more importantly, read it to become inspired to build the next vibrant chapter of Jewish life."
"[A] compelling twenty-first-century case for a Judaism of four key value propositionswisdom, social justice, community and sacred purposegains a fifthhonest conversationthrough the voices of some of American Jewry's most creative leaders."
"If you want to understand the here-and-now of the Jewish community in the twenty-first century, then read this book today.... Helps us better understand the new narratives and urgent challenges of Jewish identity, engagement, and continuity."
"Gather[s] together an all-star cast of movers and shakers who have broken boundaries in their respective ways. Each contributes powerfully to a larger thesis that is important reading for all who take leadership seriously."
"Provide[s] an invaluable framework for understanding the challenging dynamics of contemporary American Judaism [and] a blueprint for the future that will inspire and motivate leaders of our community. Anyone who wants to see American Judaism thrive in the twenty-first century should read this book!"
"Schwarz's essay-as-premise and its responses reflect a Jewish world that is recalibrating and transitioning rather than floundering, and testify to the wealth of options for today's Jews to express Jewish identity and connect to core values, texts and tradition."
"A thoughtful work that challenges the traditional biases of decision makers in the Jewish community and empowers them to take risks and step into what could be a glorious future."
"Powerful ... provid[es] a compelling and nuanced vision of what a meaningful Jewish future can look like and the change-agents who are working to realize this vision."
"A thought provoking, challenging and important book at this critical time of transition in Jewish life."
"Throws down the gauntlet to Jewish community leaders seeking to engage the next generation in this perceptive book.... The result: a thoughtful road map for the future of the Jewish people in North America based on wisdom, justice, community and purpose."
"Delivers an excellent and well thought out set of assumptions ... combined with some of the best thinkers and doers in the American Jewish community. I recommend this book to anyone searching to learn more about the major trends and direction of our Jewish community."
"An impressive body of thought leaders offer their perspective on the key challenges of the twenty-first century, as well as their insights on how the community can respond with intelligence and creativity."
"Wisely and skillfully offers a multi-dimensional platform for reinvigorating the Jewish experiences and charts a course for a future of Jewish relevance."
"Insightful and honest analysis [as well as] specific ideas for how we must evolve as a community.... Offer[s] innovative strategies for building a Jewish community so compelling that future generations will be inspired to connect."
"Challenges us to do much-needed big picture thinking about the nature of American Judaism today.... By gathering and challenging major American Jewish thinkers in one volume, Sid Schwarz has given us the gift of a critical conversation wrapped into one important book."
"A must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the Jewish community.... Present[s] a realistic, yet hopeful view of how the Jewish world is changing and how those with leadership responsibilities in the community can respond."
"A must read for those who seek to understand and harness the mega-changes reshaping the Jewish world."
"Engaging and spirited.... Calls for authenticitya renewed focus on community, prayer, learning, social justice, Israel travel and cultural participation as ends in themselves, rather than as mere instruments to some other end. To get the best results, just do the right thing."
"Face[s] difficult issues head-on. The faith we share in a creative Jewish future is due in large part to people like Schwarz and those visionaries he has gathered around him in these essays. Rabbis and other Jewish leaders should pay careful attention."
"Provides us with [a] much needed lesson in understanding the American Jewish community and [how to reach] our spirits. [Sid Schwarz's] work is charting a course for the synagogues and Jewish centers of the twenty-first century."
"Schwarz combines remarkable institutional building experience, [an] extensive network of relationships with the best and the brightest in Jewish life, and keen knowledge of the American religious landscape to produce a must read for those concerned with the genuine challenges of the next era in American Jewish life.... The book is insightful and creative ... sober and hopeful, realistic and idealistic, temperate and optimistic, pragmatic and visionary. Brims with wisdom and confidence...."
"Brings ... many ... exciting developments [in modern Jewish life] into a focus that provides a fuller understanding of where we are and where we can go. It is a must read anyone thinking about the future of American Jewish life."
"Pushes us all out of our comfort zones to recognize what works and to train today's rabbis, educators and communal leaders to transform our respective institutions and create meaningful intellectual, spiritual and action opportunities for the young Jews who are waiting for these changes."
"Offers us a roadmap to the unparalleled changes affecting the Jewish world today.... Uniquely lays out a new reality filled with challenges and opportunities that could not be more timely. After reading this book, one thing is for certain: the Jewish world of tomorrow cannot and will not look like the Jewish world of today."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Wake up!" is the message of Rabbi Sid Schwartz's third book: the face of Judaism is changing and we as a Jewish community need to come to terms with those changes and proactively do something to address them. Schwartz then offers four possible tools to adapt Judaism to these changing times. The commentaries that follow from a range of rabbis, educators and communal leaders offer a canvas from which readers can then formulate their prescriptions within their own institutions and organizational structures. We at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Synagogue, the synagogue that Rabbi Sid Schwartz founded twenty five years ago, have been consciously part of an experiment to transform synagogues since our beginning. We now draw lessons from Jewish Megatrends as we continue to evolve to embrace Judaism's dynamic evolution.
Rabbi Schwarz has given a great gift to the American Jewish community. "Jewish Megatrends" offers a wealth of practical insights about how to transform our institutions and our selves. If we truly understand the needs and aspirations of the young generation, the future has great promise. As Rabbi of a medium size congregation in the mid-West, I am engaging our lay leadership successfully to put Rabbi Schwarz's ideas into action. Rabbi Robert S, Feinberg Temple Israel Akron, Ohio
This book is a must read, it provides an outstanding commentary of where we stand and an inspirational road map as to how to approach the future. I could not put the book down. I strongly recommend this book as a must read for Jewish Communal professionals and the entire Jewish Community. Well Done