Today is November 19, 2019 -

Our Response to Pew

American Jews overwhelmingly say they are proud to be Jewish and have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people, according to a major new survey by the Pew Research Center. But the survey also suggests that Jewish identity is changing in America, where one-in-five Jews (22%) now describe themselves as having no religion. – The Pew Report

It is not an understatement to suggest that The Pew Report rocked the organized Jewish community when it was released last week. But truthfully, it should not have. This report confirms the findings of our 2010 local demographic study.

The good news is that information is power. Across the country, every branch of organized Judaism is working to address the problem of changing Jewish identity. The national offices of our religious denominations, camping institutions, JCCs, Hillels, day schools, Israel trip providers, Zionist organizations, and Federations are seeking answers. Many groups have come together to collaborate their resources and heighten productivity.

Federation’s own board and strategic planning committee is taking action. In the words of Albert Einstein, the definition of “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Thus Federation is using its resources to enable changes that will empower our community to thrive. Changes, both nuanced and radical, have been outlined in an effort to re-energize the community. Change can be challenging, but the Pew Report has confirmed that stagnation is an unhealthful alternative.

Highlights of Federation’s strategic plan include:

  • More collaboration with synagogues.
    • For the first time this year, Federation has provided a direct allocation to local synagogues to enhance their own programming. This is a pilot program to stimulate synagogue affiliation and participation. If you are a member of a synagogue, ask what new initiatives are being funded and how you can get more involved.
  • Increased financial incentives for travel to Israel.
    • Federation offers a matching Israel Experience program to maximize savings for high school and college-aged peer trips.
    • We offer need-based scholarships.
    • Federation has scheduled three trips to Israel over the next four months, with the potential for more. All trips offer substantial subsidies to encourage participation.

We encourage you to also consider a visit to Israel with your synagogue or rabbi, a national mission, or a teen summer experience. If you are interested in any Israel experience, please call us. We are happy to help you find the right trip to Israel.

Preview of Issue 20: More response to Pew

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