Hanging Out with Jewish Emergents
I am attending a gathering of the Jewish Emergent Initiative Gathering which brings a group of 25 Jewish innovators from across the country to share ideas and approaches. I was invited to participate because of my work with Panim Hadashot-New Faces of Judaism in the Pacific Northwest. Most of the group is 20-30 somethings, so I am an elder statesmen of sorts. Or at least I am an older rabbi who still has creative juices. There are people here who are organizing social action coops, alternative congregations, rabbiless minyanim, and other cutting edge communities. Some have called us Jewish professional entrepreneurs. It’s an unusual consortium. I am enjoying the exchange, especially to see the emerging impact of a new generation on Jewish life. This particular conference centers on innovation in Jewish prayer. We have had discussions about pluralistic prayer, using acting and drama to highlight prayer, and understanding prayer cultures in congregations.
Jewish prayer in synagogues, in particular, is undergoing great changes and convulsion with chasms of expectations between older and younger generations. Younger generations do not relate to overly passive models of Jewish prayer and expect to participate in their worship. The use of music in Conservative and Reform congregations on Shabbat is becoming more and more common across the country, while more traditional Conservative communities are moving from cantorial-rabbinic led communities to lay led minyans run by minyan members. How this impacts us is not yet clear, but I hope to address the issue in future teachings.
I had a Jewish first today. I had a completely organic meal of produce harvested from the retreat center farm by a Jewish farmer. A shehechiynau is in order.
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg