Sweet as honey“Sweet as honey on our tongues” is what we wish for the words of Torah and Torah study to be per Dan Nichols’ popular tune and it was with these words the CCAR conference in Boston began. And it was right into study and presentation the convention began. Dr. Jonathan Sarna of Brandeis University and Barry Shrage of Combined Jewish Philanthropies were guided in dialogue by Rabbi Denise Eger about the Boston Jewish community, what it can teach us in terms of collaboration between organizations and synagogues.
When asked about what the 3 areas we should watch for innovation Sarna said:
1. The post-college and post-Hillel young people need to be captured by Jewish institutional life. Moshe House is an example of this.
2. Using technology effectively and appropriately. For example the way the automobile transformed worship because people stopped attending services. It led to shorter sermons, and bigger parking lots.
3. Funders coming along and wiping out the debt of Jewish institutions like what Shrage did with Gann Academy in Boston. Some Funders aren’t interested in new programs but in helping ones that work.
Shrage says the strength of synagogue life are young families. They are the most important target population. So much to think about!