Monday, October 11, 2010

We Lack a Community

Three Jews' Bruce decries a lack of participation of the younger crowd at his Conservative synagogue.

He states "The result is problematic for several obvious reasons. We lack a community; the families do not regularly see each other at synagogue." Then he goes on to state several causes of the problem.

Seems to me that this causal chain is a bit bass ackwards. There is no participation because there is a lack of community, not the other way around. And the one overriding reason for this? Because more than 50 years ago Conservative Judaism permitted driving on Shabbat. Once that was allowed, there was no compelling reason to live within walking distance of a shul. Orthodox Jews have to live near one another. Voila - Jewish neighborhood. And Jewish community.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, you're convinced that Christians, driving to Church, never form communities?

BenSira said...

I would agree with that suggestion, and add to it that if shul has to compete only with sleeping late or doing nothing, many Orthodox Jews will go to shul. If it has to compete with everything that could be done on a Saturday morning, it is much harder to attract young people. Yes, people go to church, but it's probably mainly religious Christians - just like in Judaism.

More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.

Frum Heretic said...

So, you're convinced that Christians, driving to Church, never form communities?

You're missing one little point. There are only 5 million of us, so we get diluted very easily.

G*3 said...

Going to shul is not like going to church. Church lasts an hour, shul Shabbos morning lasts about two-and-a-half. Church services in most denominations are in English, and consist of real singing (as opposed to oy-yoy-yoy-ing), a few prayers (in English) and a sermon. And people still complain the church is boring.

Anonymous said...

BenSira: Conservative and Reform congregations aren't going to be able to attract congregants by forbidding all other activities. They'll have to turn services into a product people actually want.

Frum Heretic: Sure, we're a small minority, and sure, community's easier when the whole community's packed into a ghetto, but we've got any number of examples of groups that manage to maintain communities while dispersed within larger groups. There are many sects of Christianity that are similarly dispersed.

G*3: If a two-and-a-half service is a burden the community cannot shoulder, perhaps services should be shorter.

MKR said...

Because more than 50 years ago Conservative Judaism permitted driving on Shabbat. Once that was allowed, there was no compelling reason to live within walking distance of a shul.

You assume that the dispersion of Conservative Jews away from their synagogues followed rather than preceded the ruling that permitted them to drive cars on Shabbat. What makes you so sure of that? My understanding was that the ruling was a response to the fact and not the other way around. It seems to me that most Conservative Jews flout many elements of Conservative halacha, and have been doing so for decades.

I grant that if Conservative Jews lived within walking distance of their synagogues, they would not lack effective communities. What I doubt is that if their rabbis had not permitted driving on Shabbat, they would live within walking distance of their synagogues.

JB said...

The sucess of any synagouge with the exception of those in S.Florida is "children" and a full slot of youth activities. For example Chabad of Dobbs Ferry. Hardly an orthodox community but blessed with a full slate of activies for couples and their children whether it be a wine & cheese party or a camnping trip for the kids- it is a busy place. Shteebleville offers nothing for the kids. All they have in daveinig speed contest-hollow meaningless words for most- and the grand finale of Glenlivet and cholent.

JB said...

The sucess of any synagouge with the exception of those in S.Florida is "children" and a full slot of youth activities. For example Chabad of Dobbs Ferry. Hardly an orthodox community but blessed with a full slate of activies for couples and their children whether it be a wine & cheese party or a camnping trip for the kids- it is a busy place. Shteebleville offers nothing for the kids. All they have in daveinig speed contest-hollow meaningless words for most- and the grand finale of Glenlivet and cholent.

Anonymous said...

Putting together JB and BenSira:

1. Synagogues only succeed if they have a full slate of youth activities.

2. Given a choice, youth prefer other activities, at other locations.

Therefore:

3. Conservative and Reform synagogues are doomed.

We also seem to have given up on attracting adults.