Suggestions for community regeneration
I read with interest David Bornstein’s column regarding Jewish continuity, regeneration or dissolution. I offer a few suggestions in summary form to promote regeneration. The first example is promoting Torah study for families, as study is the foundation of Judaism. Study needs to again become part of our culture. There is no reason for Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and even agnostic Jews to cede Torah study to the Orthodox and Chabad. Our community should focus on convincing Jews that Torah study, and teaching their children is a major part of being Jewish. After all, when Hillel was asked to explain Judaism to a skeptic “standing on one foot,” Hillel stated, “don’t treat others as you would not want to be treated yourself. The rest is commentary. Go study.”
As a community, we have done a good job of inculcating the Jewish value of treating people respectfully, and obtaining respect for Jews and Israel, but we can do better in encouraging study and thereby displaying the appeal of Jewish belief system through the process of communal study. A good start would be a communal event with the GOBOR rabbis. Over 10 years ago, 400 or so people attended a Selichot service with all the rabbis who took written questions and provided their own commentary on the questions and one another’s learned responses.
The second example is regularly scheduled, low-cost fun activities for Jewish families at our community campus. The campus has a revitalized pool area with a heated pool, lit basketball and tennis courts and grounds that can be used for kickball and softball. It would be nice to see Jewish families and synagogue members having regular basketball games, kickball games, swim events, etc., to encourage as much Jewish interaction as possible. Attending Jewish summer camp and youth events has done wonders for my children in integrating them with other Jewish children through fun activities. We should really be making a concerted, communal effort to do the same here.