Archive for May, 2007

Edgar Bronfman: Synagogues must experiment

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Edgar Bronfman, writing in yesterday’s JTA:

[W]ithout experimentation the synagogue will continue to diminish as Judaism’s central institution. An ethos of experimentation is precisely what is needed in order to attract more people to Judaism and create a renaissance in Jewish life.

…The challenge before rabbis of all the branches of Jewish observance is to make the synagogue experience joyful and affirming on an everyday basis.

Remember synagogues?

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

The Jewish Journal‘s Tom Teichholz, reflecting on remarks by New Jews coauthor David Shneer at UCLA earlier this year:

I was struck by Shneer’s remark that “synagogues used to be the places in which Jews constituted their communal Jewish identities.”

He’s right, of course. It used to be that if you were a big shot, you gave to the synagogue.

“If I were a rich man,” sang Tevye, I would “have a seat by the eastern wall.” Which led me to think: Why does each Jewish billionaire need his own museum? When being Jewish is part of the culture, what if culture (and the cultured) returned the favor?

Why can’t Jewish synagogues also be showcases for culture?

…How many temples could be restored, how many liturgical, musical and cultural programs could be funded by …the host of other big museum donors and creators.

…In Los Angeles, “the Newest Jewish City,” Jews are shaping the culture, and their Jewish museums are shaping our notions of Judaism in American culture. Can Jewish culture also play a role in revitalizing our temples?

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