thoughts for organizational continuity
Everyone has a responsibility: Re-visioning the Synagogue
I had a really great chance to hear Rabbi Sid Schwarz speak this past weekend. Although he was lecturing or teaching 8 different times over the weekend (8! This man has stamina!) I was only able to catch one Shabbat service and a late night lecture. I found it amazing that I could even stay up to hear something that started at 9pm, but I guess caffeine and interest really work. :)
The most interesting thing he spoke about was something that I felt went way beyond the Jewish community. He talked about 4 big trends in "younger generation" Jews--but I think this speaks to Gen X, Y and Millennial folk in general. He said we were interested in creating covenantal communities...in a religious context, but I think it applies more broadly to organizations who are aging and not engaging with our age groups.
I'm cutting out the Hebrew vocabulary here just so it makes this more accessible, but here's the gist of his points:
1) Wisdom--we want actual texts, content, and real learning from our institutions. No 'learning lite" programming. (Yup)
2) Social Justice--we want to help make change. We think about where our food comes from, how to reach out to the less fortunate, and how to make a difference. Not talking, but doing.
3) Community--we want to build connections between people. That is, we want to have warm, in person relationships where we can help and support our friends, relatives, and strangers. This speaks to some of the articles I've written on creating "helping hand" committees, helping new moms, newcomers to the community, etc.
4) Holiness--we need to feel a deeper sense of spirituality or meaning. While this is speaking from the religious context, I think it is true in a broader sense. We need to sense an authenticity and honesty that speaks to us on a deep gut level. The world is full of ads and frauds and phoneys, as Holden Caulfield would say. It's great when things feel real and meaningful.
My understanding is that he has more to say in his book, which I have already ordered:
Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future
but I guess upon reflection, I found his points right on and valid in a bigger context. If clubs, organizations, religious congregations, etc. want people who are 45 and under to belong and take ownership, these are very useful guiding principles for planning and involving us.
It's so rare these days that I get to attend a lecture or other learning event that I figured reprising it here might be useful. In any case, I am just as inspired by these ideas now as I was by this Rabbi's congregation, back in 1995, when I taught religious school there.