Archive for June, 2007

2007 National Spiritual Communities Study

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Over the past few years, we have seen an important new phenomenon in Jewish life: the creation of dozens of independent minyanim, spiritual communities, alternative worship services, and emergent congregations. This rich array adds diverse opportunities for worship, learning, social justice work, community-building and spiritual expression. These new communities have welcomed friends and family members of all ages and backgrounds, from all walks of life, including Jews and non-Jews (and not-yet-Jews).

We know very little about the thousands of people associated with these new endeavors. Who are they? What are their concerns? How do they feel about the communities they’re creating, joining, and building? Why do they participate?

To answer these questions, the S3K Synagogue Studies Institute, in collaboration with Mechon Hadar, has launched a survey designed by the prominent sociologist Steven M. Cohen in partnership with Rabbi Elie Kaunfer and myself (Shawn Landres). Our goal is to find out more about the participants, members, partners, and “acquaintances” of these new spiritual communities. The results of this work will be a portrait of the interests, values, and concerns of a critical innovative turn in American Judaism.

If you are connected with such a community, we hope you will join with us in making this research endeavor a success by participating in the survey. Please click here ( to complete the survey. We think you"ll find the survey engaging and enjoyable to complete. It"s not too long – it should take no longer than 15 minutes. Your answers are confidential.

When completed, we’ll have a portrait of this vital segment of American Jews. If you have any questions, please write to us at Synagogue 3000.


Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Writing in The Forward, my old schoolmate Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove rightly notes that

[W]hile Judaism may be a religion of deed and not creed, a generation that does not invest its energy into the question of Jewish belief is a generation that will find itself without the life-sustaining aquifers necessary to keep it vital.

He points out that without theology, kashrut, circumcision, and Israel are, respectively, a diet, a medical technique, and another problematic Middle Eastern country.

And without theology, the synagogue is just another old boys’ or old girls’ club, or perhaps just another preschool.

Larry Hoffman has started the conversation (PDF download). Anyone want to join him and Elliot?

(Thanks to Jewschool’s LastTrumpet for the heads-up.)

Socialized through Gregarious 42