On Going to Synagogue
Ron Wolfson of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles recently wrote in his “Synablog” that Jewish houses of worship are frequently failing to attract 20- and 30-somethings, which means their lifeline to the future is starting to fray. But the view from the street is that the growth of independent prayer groups and new spiritual communities is exploding, and is largely fed by the very demographic missing from many synagogues. If the mainstream Jewish community doesn’t get hip to what is driving the new start-ups soon, a whole parallel universe of Jewish communal life might just rise up and make the old structures irrelevant.
Such appeals are not new. A generation ago, “relevance” was the watchword as student rebels sought to turn academia into a platform for radical politics. But while it can be argued that the protests of the 1960s did indeed transform American universities into institutions that were in greater conformity with the politically correct notions of that era, the same cannot be said for the synagogue, which, for the most part, has resisted the winds of change and, according to enthusiasts such as Wolfson, suffered as a result.
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