As a way to start the conversation in advance of my official Installation and Rabbi David Ellenson’s visit, the eTidings will feature some of Rabbi Ellenson’s insights and commentaries about the changing dynamics of American Jewish life, and provide a forum for discussion.  I invite you to take a few minutes to read Rabbi Ellenson’s teachings and participate in the conversation by sharing your thoughts. 

-Rabbi Stoller

Week 1

Rabbi David Ellenson, “Denominationalism”

Ours is a world of niche markets and customer customization. People coalesce around interests and values, not institutions. People seek personalization rather than institutional affiliation. No wonder numbers in denominations have declined. Synagogues and movements need to respond to these changed realities. They need to reach out to people beyond the synagogue in informal settings where people gather, like coffee shops and shopping malls. They also need to find ways of fostering participation and engagement in the community without insisting on the payment of membership dues…

The challenge that confronts them is how to make Judaism relevant, compelling, joyous, meaningful, welcoming, comforting, and challenging to American Jews who, “as sovereign selves,” have infinite options open before them. Both within and beyond denominations we must ask boldly whether Judaism can succeed in doing this for large numbers of Jews.

Discussion Question:

What do you think Temple Israel can do to make Judaism compelling, relevant, and engaging for more people?