Saturday, January 09, 2021

From the Jewish macrocosm to a Jewish microcosm in a literal heartbeat :(

All of us who are dedicated synagogue-goers are aware of the problem--we see synagogues closing their doors or merging with other synagogues from coast to coast.  And we know why, too--in our own neighborhood, there are three synagogues (one Orthodox, one Conservative, and one Reform), and none of them has been able to attract and/or retain significant numbers of younger members.  (Our own synagogue--the Conservative one--has only two members under the age of 50.)  Younger Jews from our neighborhood--those who choose to identify as Jewish (and I don't know whether they're the majority)-- belong to Jewish social groups and/or Jewish parenting groups and/or Jewish social justice groups and/or, for the more religiously inclined, ye friendly local alternative Jewish prayer and study community.  Many younger Jews seem to prefer to focus on tikkun olam, mindfulness-style services, meditation, and/or Jewish study without Jewish practice.  Those interested in Jewish practice often tend to prefer rabbi-founded alternative communities or grassroots-based chavurot or synagogue-based or independent minyanim run by laypeople with no presiding clergy, rather than previously-established synagogues.

So when my husband clicked on a link on jewishLIVE and found himself listening to podcasts on the "parent" website, Judaism Unbound, discussing, if my memory of the terminology is correct, a "paradigm crash," he brought those podcasts to my attention.  Thus far, I've listened to only the first four podcasts, but let me see whether I can give a short synopsis of what I've heard:  Jewish history has recorded a major "crash" in a paradigm previously central to Judaism--the "crash" resulting from the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash/Holy Temple in Jerusalem--and the creation, over time, of a successor paradigm--the synagogue and the prayer-book(s).  Daniel Libenson and Lex Rofeberg and guests are of the opinion that the synagogue paradigm has now "crashed" and that a new paradigm is currently "under construction."

There we were, a pair of older synagogue fans with limited means, trying to figure out what part we could play in helping to encourage the development of a flourishing Jewish future, when we were yanked back to a more nitty-gritty everyday reality--in the middle of a day spent glued to the television watching seditious rioters invade the United States capitol building, we got a telephone call from our synagogue office informing us that our shul's long-time president had died suddenly from medical problems decades old.  Instead of worrying about the future of the Jewish world, we now have the future of our small synagogue as our main concern.  Wish us luck.  


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