How to Energize American Jewry

Is it possible to create a dynamic Judaism that engages individuals at significant stages of life’s transitions?
How can we build an American Judaism that has meaning for our children?
Is it possible to find common ground to realign Jewish commitment to Israel?
Is it possible to create affordable Jewish Day Schools to which everyone can send their children?

I have taken on these and other major obstacles facing American Jewry today, a Jewry adrift and possibly on an overall downward trajectory due to community wide lack of shared purpose, focus and mutual concern.

“Scott Shay is a community leader, visionary and activist offering ten practical and achievable planks to energize and refocus our Jewish community”

Casting away conventional wisdom and political correctness and armed with extensive research concerning the pressing issues of our day I discuss and offer solutions in a pragmatic and doable fashion. You will be challenged and invigorated by this fresh perspective on:
  1. Defying the convention notion that Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the end of one’s Jewish education rather than a launching pad to create new rituals for engaging Jews at every stage of life.
  2. Fixing our Hebrew Schools (and creating new models) so that we effectively promote in our youth knowledge and the love of Judaism and the Jewish people.
  3. Exponentially expanding the number of students attending Jewish Day Schools by restructuring Day School funding and making it affordable to many more families.
  4. Creating a new cultural norm by offering and making affordable a variety Israel trips and learning opportunities to all young people.
  5. Tackling the issue of late marriages, low birthrate, intermarriage and Patrinlineal Descent.
  6. Fulfilling the sacred mission of the Jews to be a “light unto the nations” through fulfilling the mandate for social action, a personal commitment to ethical behavior, and tzedakah.
  7. Educating today’s Jewry on the current external threats from far left and radical Islamic anti- Semitism which has been growing at a worrisome pace.
  8. Challenging the religious movements to re-think their role in contemporary America and in Israel.

Finally, I provide American Jewry with a “to do” list of reasonable and achievable activities to promote this Jewish renewal.  

Each plan in this platform is essential for the effective renewal of American Jewry, and every plan fortifies the others. We must do everything in our power to revitalize American Jewry and make it great. In order to achieve this goal, we must act with creativity, courage, persistence, leadership, passion and a clear vision of how to successfully revitalize American Jewry.

In order to help us be creative, we must bring Jews together from across the spectrum, as well as inviting Jews from outside current institutions to adapt rather than create new organizations de novo. In order to build a solid platform for the renewal of American Jewry, we need personal, familial, congregational, institutional leadership, courage to make difficult decisions and the willpower to implement bold changes. In order to renew American Jewry we must be persistent; we must think long-term- starting with a twenty year perspective- and follow through with changes we implement. American Jewry sorely needs leaders who are visionary, creative, courageous, persistent, charismatic, and most of all leaders who will place the needs of Clal Yisrael ahead of parochial needs of their own particular organizations. We need wide spread passion to make these platforms successful and a clear vision of the American Jewish future we desire. Since we have not adequately prepared for our future, I have created these platforms to help us focus on putting our future at the top of today’s agenda. If we do, the future indeed will be bright

For a specific “To Do List” for American Jewry, please see Chapter XIII in my book “Getting our Groove Back: How to Energize American Jewry.”

© Copyright 2008, Scott Shay
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